Sustainable Development Events and Projects

Pattern Laboratory Workshop on

Pedagogy for Sustainable Development

at Gotland University, Sweden

By Dada Shambhushivananda


About 65 researchers, practitioners and educationists interested in Pedagogy of Sustainable Development gathered in Visby, Gotland, Sweden on November 4-5th, 2009 in order to share, reflect and discover the functional and dysfunctional patterns underlying the field of education for sustainable development. It was hoped that this grand exercise will unravel useful knowledge and augment the efforts of ESD practitioners in order to hasten the movement towards a sustainable world. The scholars and action researchers gathered from over 40 countries and it was the second international workshop held in Sweden by GAP International. This workshop was supported by SIDA and hosted by SWEDESD of the University of Gotland. The earlier international workshop held last year under the auspices of GAP International had taken place in collaboration with The Centre of Neohumanist Studies, Ydrefors, Sweden.

In the Gotland workshop, over 50 case studies were shared from over 30 countries and this rich information was processed through elaborate exercises of analysis, reflection, synthesis and mind mapping. The generic problems were deduced from the insights of the workshop participants and a focus group continued to work with raw data provided by the participants thereby unfolding some generic patterns confronted by the practitioners of ESD.

Besides, the participants also went back with a rich feedback and reflections on their respective projects and an enlightened perspective of the problems faced by ESD practitioners around the world.

The Pattern Laboratory methodology utilized the triple loop learning process for deepening both individual and collective learning. The first loop utilized group process to discover generic problems from a review of live case studies. The second loop learning process utilized reflection process to go deeper in to the causal connections and interrelationships and thereby unfold the possible functional and dysfunctional elements in ESD initiatives. The third loop learning focused on finding ways as to how we could share the insights and knowledge deduced from collective reflection process. It was obvious to all present at the workshop that an integrative intelligence emerges in a situation when many reflect together. The process of describing patterns emerging from the workshop participants was continued by the follow up facilitators workshop held on November 6, 2009 at the same venue. The e-classroom set up by SWEDESS will be the focus of on-going online interaction among all participants.


Functional patterns are solutions to problems and the knowledge of dysfunctional patterns is crucial if we are to avoid replicating common mistakes. If ESD initiatives around the world are to make a long lasting impact towards creating a sustainable world, it is imperative that we improve our collective learning process. This workshop has paved the way for utilizing a new methodology of Pattern Laboratory for furthering an interactive learning process. In the future, Pattern Library will be able to host all the knowledge that will emerge from similar international, regional and local workshops.