Händer håller en planta i solsken

Research Exchange for Sustainable Development


In a collaborative project between three Swedish universities and two South African ones, young and senior researchers in science and technology didactics have discussed their research on how sustainable development can be integrated into teacher education.

By bringing together students and researchers from different parts of the world in online seminars and networking meetings, opportunities are created to compare and discuss research questions regarding sustainable development. The aim is to increase understanding of how different countries address and manage sustainability challenges, and to contribute to shaping future international research projects in science and technology education.

The climate crisis sets new demands

The climate crisis is an example of a global issue that sets new demands on teachers and teacher education to integrate science and technology education for sustainable development (STESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED).

During 2023, five joint seminars were conducted online, and the collaboration concluded with physical meetings in Sweden and South Africa. Three coordinators on the Swedish side and two coordinators on the South African side have served as organizers and mentors. From Sweden, four doctoral students participated, and from South Africa, two master's students, one doctoral student, and one postdoc.

Portray of Phemelo Mokalane, a master's student at North West University in South Africa
Phemelo Mokalane, master's student at North West University in South Africa

One of the participants is Phemelo Mokalane, a master's student at North West University in South Africa, who is investigating learning and teaching strategies and how they can lead to critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and self-directed learning in physics and chemistry education.

Knowledge needed to make sustainable decisions

– People who understand science could make responsible and wise decisions that do not endanger life due to human activities such as pollution, oil spills into the sea from mines, deforestation, and all other activities that threaten nature. Then, knowledge in problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking is also needed to educate professionals who are not driven by greed, self-interest, or political mobilization.

Phemelo Mokalane believes that the exchange with the other participants in the project is important for him as a young research student, because by presenting his work to other researchers and receiving feedback and good advice, he can improve his research.
– It has also helped me to make better presentations, which I believe is crucial for being able to share one's research with the rest of the academic community and the world.

Within the framework of the collaboration, the participants have:

  • Compared and discussed research questions in students' research projects in Sweden and South Africa regarding the integration of science and technology education for sustainable development (STESD) in teacher education.
  • Compared how sustainability challenges are addressed in the two countries.
  • Discussed the design of future collaborative projects.

The exchange is part of a longer collaboration and has financial support from the South Africa-Sweden University Forum (SASUF), the Foundation for Internationalization of Higher Education and Research (STINT); the Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), within the South Africa-Sweden Bilateral Scientific Research Cooperation program.

Publication within the project:
Rocksén, M., Vhurumuku, E., Svensson, M., Mushayikwa, E., & Msimanga, A. (2022). Science and technology teacher education in the anthropocene: Addressing challenges in the north and south (Routledge research in STEM education)