David W. Hicks

Teaching for a Better World: Learning for sustainability

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Key influences

I began my professional career teaching geography in UK secondary schools before moving into teacher education in the mid-70s. This was at Charlotte Mason College of Education in the Lake District where I was the geographer in an environmental and social studies team. It was at this time that I met Robin Richardson and was much influenced by his radical work in global education.

Following this I did an MSc and PhD with Paul Smoker who ran the Peace and Conflict Programme at the University of Lancaster. For the former I reviewed the nature of global perspectives in UK initial teacher education and for the latter explored the nature of racism in UK geography school textbooks.1 During the late 70s I was the first education officer for the Minority Rights Group based in London.2

Arising from this research and my interest in teacher education I set up two national initiatives in the 80s at St Martin’s College of Higher Education, Lancaster (now part of the University of Cumbria). These were the World Studies 8-13 Project and the Centre for Peace Studies.3,4 During that decade this global education project worked with some fifty Local Education Authorities, half of the then total in England and Wales.

In 1990 I set up the Global Futures Project based at the then Institute of Education, University of London in order to help students and teachers think more critically and creatively about the future. This project later moved to Bath Spa University where I became professor in the School of Education. At Bath my research and teaching focused on the Education Studies degree with particular responsibility for modules on Education for Change, Education for the Future and Education for Sustainability.5,6 Since then my work has focused principally on issues of sustainability, climate change and the shift to a low-carbon future.7


1. Walford, R. (2001) Geography in British Schools 1850-2000, chapter 9 - Radical Responses, 1975-85, London: Woburn Press

2. Hicks, D. (1981) Minorities: A teachers’ resource book for the multi-ethnic curriculum, London: Heinemann Educational

3. Hicks, D. (1990) World Studies 8-13: a short history 1980-89, Westminster Studies in Education, 13: 61-80

4. Hicks, D. (1991) The Centre for Peace Studies: 1980-89, Westminster Studies in Education, 14: 37-49

5. Hicks, D. (2006) Lessons for the Future: The missing dimension in education, Victoria BC: Trafford Publishing

6. Hicks, D. (2013) A futures perspective and Education for sustainability in: S. Ward (ed) A Student’s Guide to Education Studies, 3rd edition, London: Routledge

7. Hicks, D. (2014) Educating for Hope in Troubled Times: Climate change and the transition to a post-carbon future, London: IOE Press

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