Document Type

Journal Article


Cambridge University Press


Faculty of Regional and Professional Studies


School of Education (RPS) / Centre for Sustainable Regional Futures




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Wooltorton, S. J., Palmer, M. J., & Steele, F. (2011). A process for transition to sustainability: Implementation. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 27(1), 160-174. Available here

This article has been published in a revised form in Australian Journal of Environmental Education. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Australian Journal of Environmental Education


This paper reports the outcomes of the second action cycle of an ongoing project at Edith Cowan University (ECU) called "Transition to Sustainability: ECU South West" which is located in a small, single faculty regional university campus. The overall project has comprised three action research cycles, the first of which was the planning cycle which established the importance of building a community of practice with a learning stance for sustainability transition. It also highlighted the issue of a common definition of the term sustainability; of including cross-disciplinary perspectives; and of working with the local community. The second action cycle which was the first implementation phase, is the subject of this report. In this phase, we found that by not foreclosing on the meaning of sustainability, important aspects of sustainability were included. Although research participants initially expressed some concern about using an open understanding of sustainability, the problem of the meaning functioned to foster involvement in dialogue. In fact, these ongoing discussions around sustainability and the notion of a sustainable future formed the heart of this action cycle. However there were constraints associated with the subject of dialogue. These included problems of site communication, the maintenance of effective networks and issues around power and authorisation. We observed that each of these elements could work together in ways that enrich and/or obstruct a transition to sustainability. Finally, we found that lack of time hinders participation in sustainability transition projects because of its effect on authentic dialogue, thereby impacting upon the development of collaborative ways of working within the university. Our project is distinctively Australian in that it reflects an emerging movement in Australia to create social frameworks for embedding sustainability education activities. In our project, the transition process by which learning and change has been facilitated comprises the action research itself. (Contains 1 endnote and 1 table.)



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