Sustainability and the Struggle for Hegemony in Australian Architectural Education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Purpose: Influential advocates of education for sustainability suggest that most
formal education teaches us how to be unsustainable. Can this criticism be levelled at architectural education? This paper explains how the power relations and strategies that lead to the dominance and subordination of ideologies in architectural curricula influence the subordination of the sustainability agenda. Ideological positions within the contested fields of architectural education and sustainable development are described, and the dimensions of ideological resistance manifest in the values (ethos), structure (eidos) and implementation (praxis) of Australian architectural curricula are explained.

Research Design: Using critical discourse analysis and curriculum mapping, this
study focused on the influence of the concepts of ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable design’ on discourses in architectural education in general, and Australian architectural curricula in particular, over the past 30 years.

Findings: Sustainable design curricula are currently marginalized in Australian
architecture programs. This marginalization has been historically constructed.
Hegemonic strategies that reproduce such marginalization include: universalizing traditional architectural strategies as ‘sustainable design’ strategies, decoupling progression in design from progression in non-design subjects, and offering ‘stand-alone’ subjects without praxis. The research has identified strategies of hegemonic struggle that affect the relative dominance of ideologies in Australian architectural education and the positioning of sustainable design curricula within this contested field. In the processes, a methodology for understanding the influence of ideology in curriculum has been developed.

Originality: Research in the fields of sustainability education and sustainable
design education has commonly investigated their marginalization in terms of
integration. Conclusions of such investigations have often identified ideological
conflict as a potential barrier but have left this under-investigated. Contemporary international studies have not considered curricula as manifestations of a history of ideological struggle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Trends in Education for Sustainable Development
EditorsWalter Leal Filho
Place of PublicationFrankfurt, Germany
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-653094538-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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