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CEALS – Centre for Excellence in Action Learning for Sustainable Development

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)


The vision of CEALS is to strengthen the capacity for educating candidates able to contribute to sustainable societies by using action learning. Three NMBU faculties within the areas of agroecology, teacher education, and landscape cooperate in this proposal. The core idea of CEALS is to establish a dialogue space where students and teachers meet stakeholders in a space of shared action, where all participants enhance co-learning while collaborating on handling complex and dynamic sustainability challenges.

Strengths and weaknesses:

The vision of CEALS, to have teachers and students work together with different stakeholders with real-life problems in transdisciplinary community, is commendable. The proposal includes good ideas and features for an important transdisciplinary approach.

Documentation of excellence in educational quality is provided, although more recent documentation of existing excellence could have been included. The provided input factors are solid. There are real strengths in agro-ecology with an international standing and international networks. Approaches to student feedback are systematic and frequent. It is positive that student engagement and ownership is relatively strong in the learning experience. Student achievement, retention and outcomes are good.

The need for a transdisciplinary approach to sustainability education is well explained and clear. It is laudable student and stakeholders have co-developed the plans. The links with teacher education and the transdisciplinary approach are promising. There is a strong focus in dissemination on participatory engagement and student involvement.

The centre has good ideas, but the vision and plans are not yet fully articulated resulting in a disappointing overall picture. More evidence of how the proposed approach has impacted student learning and improved practises is needed. Additional information on how this proposal takes action learning to the next level would have been welcomed. How the students are co-creators and the student role in determining the step change needed more explanation.

It is not entirely clear what the links currently are with teacher education. The balance between the disciplines is not convincing. It might have been possible to include a broader range of cross-disciplinary actors and more collaboration internally and externally. The plans and methodology for evaluation are insufficiently developed.

Points to consider:

  • The currency of the evidence of documented quality
  • Going from where to where? What are the most important milestones and why? Address key steps in an action plan including baseline
  • How can internal, national and international partners be involved?

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