Purpose – To distinguish sustainable development education from environmental education and stress the importance of problem-based interdisciplinary learning to sustainable development education.
Design/methodology/approach – A range of published works relating to sustainable development education are critiqued, an introduction to complexity theory is given and related to sustainable development education, and a case study is provided to demonstrate an example of incorporating sustainability into course delivery and to demonstrate problem-based interdisciplinary learning.
Findings – Our discussion supports our claim that reconciling sustainability and development requires a complex interdisciplinary approach beyond that found in some areas of traditional environmental education.
Research limitations/implications – Our literature search is not exhaustive and focuses on sustainable development education. A much greater body of literature relating to environmental education exists.
Practical implications – Our discussion and case study suggests practitioners designing and teaching sustainable development related programs should incorporate an interdisciplinary approach and allow for problem-based applied learning to take place.
Originality/value – This paper distinguishes sustainable development education from environmental education and suggests practical courses of action for initiating sustainable development education in a meaningful manner.