Like human rights, sustainable development may be regarded as a “regulative idea“ (Immanuel Kant). Regulative ideas don’t indicate how an object is made up but serve as heuristic structures for reflection. The goal of the University Course BINE is to encourage participants to deal as a “community of learners” with subject information on sustainable development (SD) and education for sustainable development (ESD) in a reflected way. The course offers five seminars plus regional mentoring meetings. Participants complete an action research study. The aim is to improve pedagogical research competences (mainly action research), to research and reflect on educational practice in teacher education in diverse educational subjects, and to implement sustainable development issues in the teacher education curriculum.
The interdisciplinary nature as well as the present and future relevance of the sustainability debate, with all its inherent dilemmas, uncertainties and confusions, may constitute fertile ground for educational innovation. It is of utmost importance to address the challenge of the vast complexity which results from sustainability and related uncertainties in order to retain a capacity for action without lapsing into simplistic dogmas. While on the one hand sustainability issues are used as a vehicle for innovation in education, they are also meant to trigger concrete sustainable social development processes.
The overall results of the evaluation of the course have shown that the BINE course offers an adequate instructional and learning strategy for the participants to construct the meaning of the complex issues of Sustainable Development (SD) and ESD by researching, reflecting and exchanging in the learning group focused on concrete examples. The course has proven to enable a learning community. It is a challenge not to simplify ESD and lose its potential to identify the inter-connections between the ecological, social, economic and cultural-political spheres more clearly and adequately. The action research process provides a basis for learning in order to further develop the participants′ concepts of ESD as well as research and implementation competencies.