Conceptual and developmental perspectives on Sustainability and Education

Academic Paper, 2017

6 Pages, Grade: 1.5



By analyzing the relationship between sustainability and education, the authors developed a tool to support The Hanoi Tower Model of Excellence, an aspect of the Vietnamese education system. The paper presents a psychometric model of multiple talents based on a psychometric classification approach with several types of talent factors. This multidimensional model called “HTME” consists of a variety of relatively independent ability factor groups (predictors), and various performance domains (criterion variables), as well as personality traits and social environment factors that serve as moderators for the transition of individual potentials into excellent performance in various domains. Its application to guide instruction by using technology and a pilot study as a part of the HTME are presented.


In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) submitted the report ‘’Our Common Future’’ to the United Nations General Assembly. In this report the concept ‘sustainable development’ was defined as: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This definition sets out the two fundamental principles of intra-generational and intergenerational equity, and contains the two ‘key concepts’ of needs and limits. The concept of ‘needs’ demands that ‘overriding priority’ should be given to the essential needs of the world’s poor, both from the North and South. Poverty and the unequal distribution of resources, the growing population and its expanding consumption are considered as major causes of environmental degradation: ‘Sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to satisfy their aspirations for a better life (WCED, 1987, p. 44). The Report stresses that these goals can only be achieved if consumption patterns in the richer countries are readjusted. Secondly, the concept of limits recognizes that the current state of technology and social organization imposes limits on the ability of the environment to meet present and future needs, so we must moderate our demands on the natural environment [12].

According to the results of the UN Conference which are most recognized by the large public are the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the action program of Agenda 21. Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 is dedicated to promoting education, public awareness and training.

Ten years after the top conference in Rio de Janeiro, a new conference was organized in Johannesburg, which was intended to stimulate the member states to make efforts to revitalize the agenda of sustainable development and to meet the challenges which emerged since the UN conference in Rio. Despite the high expectations regarding the conference, no new big agreements were made and only a new implementation plan was developed. However, the foundation was laid for a UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from 2005 to 2015. This resolution 57/254 was voted the 20th of December 2002. The UNESCO received the responsibility to promote the Decade and to develop an implementation scheme. This document served as the basis to develop an implementation strategy, which allows policy makers to design an appropriate strategy for their own state.

II. Sustainable development and education

Kofi Annan stated that the biggest challenge in this century will be to take an abstract-sounding idea – sustainable development – and turn it into reality for the entire world’s people. Many would argue that this is essentially an educational enterprise. Building capacity for making decisions that consider the long-term future of economy, ecology and equity in society is a key task of education. In term of education ESD may be described as a continuous process that enables human beings to develop knowledge, skills, intelligence, creativity, wisdom, perspectives and values to motivate and empower people to work toward attaining such balance. In this process, the transition of individual potentials into excellent performance in various domains is very important [6].

Kofi Annan’ idea provided a typical example of what is referred to today as a “sustainability challenge”. Fortunately, there are also a growing number of international examples how to deal with such challenges in a sound way. Car-sharing cooperation e.g. started with small initiatives and developed to a nationwide organization is an example for the management of mobility. This example shows how initiatives of small groups can initiate innovation [6]. The same process could also be started by activities of schools and educational institutions.

Societies generally expect educational systems to prepare young people for their future professional life and/or continued studies. The educational system is seen as having a socializing role and is expected to contribute to preparing young people to take up their responsibilities in helping to shape the complex society in which we all now live.

So ESD requires at least a holistic approach and then sustainability challenges need to be approached at a systemic level.

Education is a very complicated system. In order to find the optimum solution for education, careful research and decent investment are needed. This paper will only provide with models and the way to approach the problem limited to the establishment of methodology, which will be a tool to support in studying and finding solution for Vietnamese education. The model consists of 3 layers. It is constructed from the components and many-sided relation (interaction) links. The kernel of the education system is a personality as a social individual with his own peculiarities of developing mind (see Figure 1).

In general, all the components, both of the same and of the different layer, all have impacts on each other reciprocally. This is a multi-sided relationship. However, we will study this interactive relationship with the purpose of understanding the influences on education, especially on personality as a social individual with his own peculiarities of developing mind. Different influences could be categorized into direct-indirect, main-supplementary, forward and backward.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig.1. The model consists 3 layers: (1) External layer include ecologic, economic and social systems served as environment. (2) Education system is surrounded by educational environment. (3) Personality as a social individual with his own peculiarities of developing mind.

Based on the triangle shape “developing mind”, we developed a sub model called Hanoi tower model of excellence. This model is seen as an example of multi-dimensional conceptions for sustainable development of human being who, in turn, controls the sustainability.

A. The Hanoi tower model of excellence

The Hanoi tower model of excellence (HTME) is an example of conceptions for sustainable development of human. It is a psychometric model of multiple talents. Like other multidimensional models of high ability (Gardner, 1983; Heller & Ziegler, 2001a; Heller, 2010; Sternberg & Powell, 1982), this multidimensional model called “HTME” consists of variety factor groups (predictors), performance domains (criterion variables), personality traits and social environment factors (moderators). The HTME, as a multidimensional model of high ability, includes excellence in terms of disposition for extraordinary achievements (in specific areas) (see Figure 2a & 2b). It was implemented in the faculty of Psychology and Education at the Hanoi National University of Education as a small project in Education funded by World Bank (Teaching, Research Innovation Grant –TRIG).

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Fig.2a. The HTME in short


Talent factors (predictors)

− Mind (language, mathematical, distributed, musical, spatial, spiritual, interpersonal, intrapersonal, etc). Each of them will be divided to assess.

Personality characteristics (moderators)

− Big five: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism (OCEAN)
− Creative problem solver: Fact Finding, Problem Finding, Idea Finding, Solution Finding, Acceptance Finding

Environmental conditions (moderators)

− School
− Family
− Peers

Performance areas (criteria variables)

− mathematics, computer science, etc.
− natural sciences
− technology, handicraft, trade, etc.
− languages
− arts, music (musical-artistic area)
− social activities, leadership, etc.


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Conceptual and developmental perspectives on Sustainability and Education
Vietnam National University Hanoi
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conceptual, sustainability, education
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Giap Binh Nga (Author)Tu Anh Nguyen Thi (Co-author)Hai Nguyen Xuan (Author)Ha Nguyen Thi Van (Author), 2017, Conceptual and developmental perspectives on Sustainability and Education, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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