Project-based Learning for Education for Sustainable Development


Nature has never taken centre stage in planning education, despite the direct link between urban nature and sustainability. This omission is problematic in many aspects as climate change puts more lives at risk and inequality widens. Not giving future urban planners the competence to work with nature could lead to them repeating mistakes from the past in urban land uses, urban form, and infrastructure. There is a need to change how we plan our cities and how we educate our future planners. This paper focuses on a case study – an undergraduate module using urban rivers as opportunities for Education for Sustainable Development. The rationale and design of the module is explained, including how the initiative evolved from a local community campaign to daylight a river section in Sheffield. The design of the teaching contents and pedagogical methods around redeveloping the river corridor and ensuring student engagement are also covered. Of importance were ways to facilitate knowledge exchange between academics, students, and community groups to provide a transformative learning opportunity for all –staff, future planners, and the community. There were challenges with the first implementation of the new module. Key strengths and issues are drawn from student module evaluation and focus group interviews. Reflections are discussed, for example, how to manage teaching resources and workload to ensure the module is sustainable; how to design assessments based on constructive alignment. The paper shines a light on place-based EDS for urban planning discipline and wider learning communities.


Ally Lu
Lecturer, Urban Studies and Planning, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


ESD, Riverscapes, BGI

Digital Media

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