This sub-theme is co-convened by

Paul Vare, University of Gloucestershire

Clare Bentall, IoE/ UCL

Literacy and numeracy are important but their primacy has led to a narrowing of the curriculum often in response to governments overly prioritising the results of international league tables such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This sub-theme is concerned with our response to this phenomenon.

A narrowly focused curriculum is unlikely to prepare the next generation for a world of unforeseen challenges and rapid change. Globalisation, for example, may have raised living standards globally but gross inequalities within and between nations are corroding societies and communities. Meanwhile social inequality compounds environmental problems such as habitat loss, pollution, land degradation, ozone depletion and climate change, while making it harder to achieve peace. These issues are complex, non-linear and characterised by emergent phenomena. Termed ‘wicked’ problems, such intractable issues call for non-traditional, trans-disciplinary approaches to address them. Are such approaches reflected in school curricula? If we want to build resilience in young people, shouldn’t our curriculum be modelling the capacity for adaptation?

Re-thinking the curriculum presents its own challenges. What are the key learning outcomes we seek in different education and training contexts? Indeed, to what extent should a curriculum promote a precise set of pre-determined values and norms? Who should be involved in contributing to curriculum design and who or what should inform this? What is the role of the ‘local’ (and global) in such a curriculum?

We are keen to learn from those involved in the policy, philosophy and practice of curriculum development. In particular we welcome contributions that address the following areas:

  • Are there approaches or models of curriculum development that would best help us to promote responsible participation and peaceful social evolution?
  • Is it a menu of knowledge and skills that is required to promote sustainable development or something more emergent?
  • What practical experience of implementing a curriculum for peace, global citizenship and sustainable development can we share?
  • What research is there to help us develop such curricula?
  • What next steps should be taken towards such a refocused curriculum and by whom?


Read Paul Vare’s interview on the sub-theme