The development of a media-based learning and teaching resource that introduces and explores the interconnections among the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as they relate to pressing global and local issues through an interdisciplinary lens.
Produced at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (2019), this learning and teaching resource includes a series of fourteen videos, each entailing a dialogue with a specific focus on a single or pair of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) in the New Zealand context. Appropriate for students of all levels and disciplines, this resource has been designed to support a comprehensive and interdisciplinary introductions to the SDG's. Videos range from 10-20 minutes in duration. The videos can be used in any course at the University.
All content in these videos is the sole property of Victoria University of Wellington and Tonya Sweet.
The successfully completed resource, “Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability”, takes the form of a series of fourteen video dialogues entailing a targeted discussion about one to two SDGs, each with a duration of 10-20 minutes. This resource was trialled in a 2018 Tri 3 course (DSDN 183 Design Thinking for Sustainability) where it was implemented as on-line learning and teaching resource. The videos were associated with weekly journal assessments in which students were asked to write short reflective summaries in response to each video dialogue according to a set of loosely framed questions. As exemplified in the following feedback shared by students, the use of this resource was positively received:
“Watching the SDG videos for me was a huge help especially to see people talking about their personal thoughts and ideas helped me better understand each individual SDG but also how they link to one another. Writing these journal entries weekly then helped me to form my own ideas and opinions which I found was a really effective way to learn about the SDGs and create a personal connection to them while also thinking about the larger scale. There are so many things I can take away from this class such as better design ideas, better way to improve my everyday life to help do my part in achieving these SDGs but for me I think the most important thing I can take away is my confidence in the topic and Sustainable Development Goals which then also has allowed me to bring up these idea with friends and family helping make more people aware of what is happening in our world and how we can all help.”
“In terms of reflecting on the video journals overall, I think that the fact that the video was showing two people having a discussion allowed me to form my own views and reflections on the SDGs. As we know that there isn’t a straight forward answer to these wicked problems, having a discussion rather than a video that ‘teaches’, made it more engaging as well as providing me with the necessary space to think.”
The primary objective of the video series entailed enabling university students to access understandings and research evidence about the SDG’s through an interdisciplinary lens. This has been achieved through the generous participation of VUW staff, students, alumni, and community leaders who volunteered their time to engage in recorded discussions about their views on sustainability within a local, national, and global context. This aspect of the project is a clear indication of the commitment of staff and the Wellington community in their support for quality sustainability education, and exemplifies SDG 17: Partnership for the Global Goals. Participants in the video series include:
Prof Jonathan Boston - Professor of Public Policy, School of Government
Prof Alan Brent - Professor, School of Engineering
Ralph Chapman - Associate Prof, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Dr Simon Chapple - Director, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies
Dr Julie Deslippe - Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Dr Hedwig Eisenbarth - Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology
Dr Leon Gurevitch - Associate Prof, School of Design
Dr Stephen Hartley - Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Prof Rawinia Higgins - Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Māori)
Bethanna Marie Jackson - Associate Prof, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Prof Annemarie Jutel - Professor of Health, Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Dr Judy Lawrence - Senior Research fellow, NZ Climate Change Research Institute
Dr Hiria McRae - Senior Lecturer, School of Education
Dr Ramesh Rayudu - Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering
Prof James Renwick - Professor of Physical Geography, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Dr Christian Schott - PRME Coordinator, School of Management
Dr Amanda Thomas - Lecturer, Environmental Studies
Prof Brenda Vale - Professorial Research Fellow, School of Architecture
Andrew Wilks - Director, Sustainability
VUW students and alumni:
Kristin Li - alumni
William MacFarlane - student
Rosee Paton - alumni
Community leaders and business representatives:
Paul Barber - Policy Advisor, NZ Council of Christian Social Sciences
Kellie Benner - Trustee, Kaibosh Food Rescue
Bernadette Casey - Founder and Creative Director, The Formary
Laurie Foon - Wellington Regional Manager, Sustainable Business Network
Mike Mendonca - Chief Resilience Officer, Wellington City Council
Matt Morrison - Co-Founder, Karma Cola Ltd
Alexandre van Passen - Manager of Community Engagement
Please refer to the instructions tab of this case study to find out how you can use these resources in your teaching.
The project was funded by a VicTeach Grant.
Commentaries on the pedagogical ideas behind this case study, written by academics from the Centre for Academic Development
Learning Design and Application
The learning and teaching resource, Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability, entails a series of fourteen videos that establish a foundation of knowledge about the SDGs as they relate to regional, national, and global sustainability challenges. Through this resource, students are introduced to the principles of sustainability and the consequences of non-sustainable development at global, national and individual scales. By inviting engagement through these lenses, students are given the opportunity to reflect on their personal actions, taking into account their current and future socio-cultural, economic and environmental impacts. A point of distinction of this resource is their interdisciplinary approach to the introduction of principles of sustainability, whereby diverse perspectives are presented through dialogues between pairs of academics, local representatives from business and government sectors, and university alumni. This interjection of multidimensional viewpoints affords a more balanced and democratic frame of reference in understanding the SDGs, while also offering an interpretation of the goals in a manner that more accurately mirrors the complexity and universality inherent in the SDG framework. Importantly, through the dialogues, students are exposed to conflicting attitudes and viewpoints on topics of sustainability and are invited to consider and develop personal positions
Another key point of distinction of this resource is the prioritisation of the local context in discussing sustainability challenges as they relate to the SDGs. Although the dialogues between participants did not follow a script or prescriptive direction, in advance of recording the dialogues the participants were asked to reflect on the relevance of their assigned SDG in the context of Wellington, New Zealand. This context was evidenced in three ways across the video series. Firstly, being of the place, the participants naturally reflected mannerisms and language patterns reflective of Wellington, New Zealand. In the second instance, participants evidenced concepts by way of Wellington or New Zealand-based examples. Thirdly, many of the dialogues draw connections between sustainability, indigenous knowledge, and cultural values, including addressing specific considerations as they apply to New Zealand’s Māori population and the Treaty of Waitangi. Cultural concepts and indigenous values are introduced, including: Mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge of native New Zealanders; ‘the knowledge, comprehension, or understanding of everything visible and invisible existing in the universe’), Kaitiakitanga (guardianship, care and conservation of nature, people, and ideas) and Whanaungatanga (the close relationships and bonds that are formed through collective experiences, as evidenced through the interdisciplinary and collaborative learning and teaching environment). Through this place-based, contextualised lens, students are afforded with avenues of identification in understanding how sustainability and the SDGs relate to them personally.
Within the videos, the content delivered in the person-to-person dialogues are supplemented by an additional layer of information in the form of animated media. The animated content has three functions: to highlight the scope of sustainability goals and targets as they relate to the SDG framework, to highlight the connectivity and interdependence that exists between SDGs, and to illustrate complex concepts as they are raised. An example of the application of this animated content can be found in the first video of the series, Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability, SDG 1: “No Poverty”. As the two participants initiate their conversation about poverty as a sustainability challenge, an icon associated to SDG 1 appears. As the conversation evolves, and as poverty as a concept is defined, additional icons associated to newly introduced concepts – in this case, SDG 2 “Zero Hunger”, SDG 3 “Good Health and Well-being”, and SDG 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” – appear, interlinked to the SDG 1 icon by branching dashed lines. Following this, as more complex concepts on the topic of poverty are raised, simple hand-drawn images appear that depict the concepts narrated.
The application of these approaches to the video resource, Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability, supports internationally recognised dimensions attributed to global competence. As outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, target dimensions including “the capacity to examine issues and situations of local, global and cultural significance” and “the capacity to understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views” are core in achieving global competencies (OECD 2018). Within this framework, an equally valuable dimension entails “the capacity and disposition to take constructive action toward sustainable development and collective well-being” (OECD 2018). The development of this competency is supported by an embedded component of the dialogues whereby participants share examples of their everyday sustainable actions, and suggest strategies for the adaptation of sustainable behaviours and positive action. Accordingly, as a result of their engagement with this resource, students have the opportunity to gain knowledge about the SDGs in a range of contexts as well as to be compelled towards individual action.
As a means to assess student’s engagement with the video series, an assessment opportunity linked to this resource has been trialled in the format of weekly reflective journals. The journal-based assessment required students to write one summary for each of the videos assigned over the week. Summaries were expected to be 150-500 words in length in their response to two to three of the following questions:
Reproduce this in Your Own Teaching
This is a quick-start guide for using these interdisciplinary resources in your own teaching. If you would like additional support, contact one of our learning and teaching team
Consider how you want use these resources in your teaching.
Copy the required videos from the central Sustainability folder into your course folder to use in your Blackboard course.
Instructions on how to copy the videos in VStream
You might like to set this up as an reflective task/assignment or even assessment item for the students.
Instructions on how to set up a Journaling assignment
Suggested associated assignment:
This resource and associated assignment were trialled as a key component in a blended, 100-level interdisciplinary course.
Reflective journaling in response to online video resource: Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability. Weekly submissions in response to assigned videos (14 in total). Journals are a self-reflective tool that allows Students to post their personal reflections about the Course or discuss and analyse Course-related materials. Via Blackboard Journal.
Your journal is a place for you to reflect on the video series, Whakawhitinga kōrero: Dialogues on sustainability, and the concepts addressed regarding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For each video you are asked to write a summary (150-500 words in length) that responds to 2-3 of the following questions:
Make sure you have clearly communicated to your students that these resources are available within the course. Explain how you are expecting them to use them and why.
to use the individual videos as content in your course you can embed each video into a Blackboard content item.
Instructions on how to embed a video into Blackboard page.
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Contact one of our learning and teaching team to discuss these ideas further and for support using the technologies.