Workshop Advances Sustainable Development Through Design-Based Research Methodologies


Contextualising Design-Based Research (DBR) for Pacific Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) workshop and regional talatalanoa concluded last week, marking a significant step forward in integrating sustainability into Pacific education systems.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Oceania Institute at The University of Melbourne, The University of the South Pacific’s the Institute of Education (IoE), and the School of Pacific Arts, Communication and Education (SPACE).

The workshop aimed to enhance participants’ understanding of how design-based research methodologies could be tailored to suit the unique educational contexts of Pacific Island Countries.

Participants, including students and emerging researchers, were engaged in a series of interactive sessions that emphasised a ‘learn by doing’ approach. These activities were not only intended to impart knowledge but also to equip attendees with innovative data collection techniques. These methods were explored alongside Pacific methodologies such as ‘tok stori’ and ‘talanoa’, which are conversational techniques that facilitate community-based learning and knowledge sharing.

Rachael Chandra, a postgraduate student in Climate Change at USP said the two-day workshop had been enriching.

“I’ve gained hands-on experience on how DBR and indigenous research methods complement each other through talanoa sessions and World Café with a diverse group of people,” she said.

“A key takeaway for me was to learn how DBR is integrated with Pacific methodologies such as the Kakala Research Framework.

“Armed with this knowledge, I am inspired to become a true Pacific researcher by using Pacific methodologies to develop innovative research so that I can give back to my community.”


USP postgraduate student Rachael Chandra at the Regional Talatalanoa last week.

One of the key outcomes from the workshop was the deepened understanding of existing strengths within Pacific schools and communities. Discussions highlighted how these strengths could be leveraged to advance sustainability goals, with a particular focus on harnessing traditional knowledge and cultural values.

This approach is seen as pivotal in ensuring that educational practices are not only effective but also resonate deeply with the community values and lifestyles.

PhD student Holomesi Finau during the Regional Talatalanoa last week.

A USP PhD student Holomesi Finau highlighted how the workshop propelled dialogue around education sustainability.

“Education for sustainable development (ESD) is like painting a picture that will inspire the rising generation of the Pacific to become sustainable in their approach to education,” Mr Finau said.

To sustain momentum and foster continuous dialogue among participants, an online community of practice was established. This digital platform will serve as a hub for ongoing discussions, allowing participants to share ideas, resources, and further develop the concepts introduced during the workshop.

The success of the workshop highlights a growing recognition of the importance of localised, context-sensitive approaches to education.

The workshop was supported with funding from the University of Melbourne;  an engagement grant from the Oceania Institute, as well as an Asia and The Pacific Profile Initiative grant from Chancellery International.


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