Designing Field Exercises with the Integral Approach for Sustainability Science: A Case Study of the Heihe River Basin, China

  • Ricardo O. San CarlosEmail author
  • Heng Yi Teah
  • Tomohiro Akiyama
  • Jia Li


This chapter introduces one of the GPSS-GLI exercises, the Oasis Unit, which has been conducted annually in northwestern China. The unit aims to equip the students who take it with a wide knowledge base and leadership competency, and is thus strongly field-oriented. The Integral Approach proposed by Ken Wilber is applied when designing this unit, which provides an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary framework for synthesizing the complex problems of sustainability, as well as allowing the inclusion of methodologies from different academic fields. In the present chapter a practical implementation of the approach is showed and discussed, using as a case study the 2015 Oasis Unit within two contexts—(1) as a holistic framework for addressing sustainability problems, and (2) as a design approach for educational field exercises. Finally, the authors summarize the usefulness of the integral approach in designing field exercises based on the seven year long experience of the University of Tokyo in organizing the Oasis Unit.


Integral approach Sustainability science education Field exercise Heihe river basin 



A number of people have been part of the discussion for developing the field exercise unit conducted in the Heihe River basin. Especially highly acknowledged are the initiatives by Prof. Xin Li (Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences), Prof. Mingguo Ma (Southwest University ), Prof. Guangwei Huang (Sophia University), Prof. Takashi Mino, Prof. Eiji Yamaji, and Prof. Tomochika Tokunaga (The University of Tokyo) for the start-up of the field exercise unit. However, the authors take sole responsibility for any errors and the interpretation provided in this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo O. San Carlos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Heng Yi Teah
    • 1
  • Tomohiro Akiyama
    • 1
  • Jia Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Sustainability Science-Global Leadership Initiative, Graduate School of Frontier SciencesThe University of TokyoKashiwa, ChibaJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of International Studies and Regional DevelopmentUniversity of Niigata PrefectureNiigata PrefectureJapan

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