Exploring ‘Our Common Future’

Generalised Interests and Specialised Discourses
  • M. W. J. Spaul


This paper describes the early design thinking and experimentation of a long-term project in sustainability education, prompted by the WCED report on environment and development (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) and Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992). The opportunity for this project was provided by the author’s fortuitous involvement in the preparation of two, very different, undergraduate modules: a module on sustainable development, structured around the WCED report, initially intended for a group of planners; and a module which explores the potential of hypertext as a tool for the mass communication of complex ideas, initially intended for a group of multimedia designers. These two projects were brought together by a need to address some of the conceptual difficulties in the WCED conception of sustainable development; in particular, its ambitious multi-disciplinarity. This requirement prompted the question of whether the claimed revolutionary potential of hypertext to promote new, inter-disciplinary ways of thinking (see, e.g., Landow, 1992) could partially fulfill the educational requirements for thinking effectively about sustainable development. In sum, this experiment might be seen as a minor contribution to Chapter 36 of Agenda 21: an attempt to educate students in sustainable development by their reflecting critically on its fundamental assumptions—an interpretation, locally relevant to higher education, of a global need.


Sustainable Development Critical Theory Citizen Participation World Commission Participatory Planning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. W. J. Spaul
    • 1
  1. 1.Design and CommunicationsAnglia Polytechnic UniversityUK

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