In 2017 Western Sydney University embarked on an institutional 21st Century curriculum renewal and transformation program. A flagship initiative of this work was to develop and deliver a cross-disciplinary signature sustainability learning experience accessible for undergraduate students and at scale. The result was a new Global Sustainability sub-major approved late in 2018 and an interactive online ‘curiosity pod ’called ‘Sustainability Bootcamp’ SB developed as a ‘taster’ for students. The aim of this pod is to introduce the core concepts of sustainable development and the SDGs through worldviews, systems awareness and future thinking. The pod was also designed to be accessed as a resource for academics to incorporate into their current programs as well as a standalone extra curricula activity. The Sustainable Futures team managed the pod development with the pedagogical framework informed by Education for Sustainable Development principles and led by a School of Education academic. A team of research and teaching academics, professional staff, community partners and student interns supported and contributed to the work using a ‘partnership pedagogy’ approach.
The SDG framework was used to clearly articulate to all students the importance of the global goals firstly from a personal and discipline perspective and then to start to think about systemic connections with other disciplines. Students can self-direct their learning by exploring an interactive SDG wheel (with Australian and Western Sydney data) that clearly identifies how the SDGs relate to each other. The case studies profile inspirational local initiatives and research across Western Sydney and include diverse issues such as the fashion industry, urban heat, refugee resettlement, pollinators and local food systems and how Australia is tracking against the SDGs. The SDGs are explicitly mapped to each case study. The pod includes lists of local initiatives and community groups that students can connect with and take action. The pod was reviewed by student reviewers over December 2018 and also an academic peer review. It’s first at scale offering to the university community was in 2019 and in 2020 the pod has been piloted as a Professional Development opportunity. The SB undergoes a cycle of continuous review and improvement.