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The role of education in transition towards a more sustainable world
Malmö högskola, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Nature, Environment and Society (NMS).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1730-4655
Malmö högskola, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Nature, Environment and Society (NMS).
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Within this conference’s overall focus on ‘Education and transition’, the network on Environmental and Sustainability Education Research (ESER) raises the question what research tells us about education’s role in building a more sustainable world. The proposed symposium will address this key issue in ESE research, thereby combining varied research focusses and national perspectives (Sweden, Denmark and Belgium) and paying particular attention to educators’ role in facing the challenges involved. The role of education in tackling societal problems is the subject of an ongoing scholarly discussion since such problems are often translated into issues that need an ‘educational solution’ (Simons and Masschelein 2006), pre-eminently in the context of sustainability issues (Postma 2004; Van Poeck et al. 2014). A sustainable world emerges then as a challenge that can be met by learning the proper solutions, desirable attitudes, correct behaviour, necessary competences, etc. Policy-makers as well as scholars argue for ‘learning our way out’ of unsustainability (Finger and Asún 2001) and for ‘transformative learning’ (Jackson 2011). However, critics argue, sustainability issues cannot be approached as if they were solely a matter of more or better education (e.g. Biesta 2012). Considering that these issues are often very uncertain and controversial (both in factual and normative terms) and drastically affect our planet and its inhabitants it is argued that, first and foremost, sustainability issues raise democratic challenges. Thus, research about education’s role in building a more sustainable world often addresses questions of democratic thought (e.g. Lundegård and Wickman 2012; Sund and Öhman 2014) and ESE practices reveal a certain entanglement of educational and political/democratic processes. The proposed symposium focusses on this ‘intersection of politics and pedagogy’ (Biesta 2012) in the light of sustainability challenges. In doing so, we explicitly aim to move beyond a dichotomist view on the tension between a (‘committed’ and ‘instrumental’) solution-oriented versus a (‘detached’, ‘idealistic’ and ‘relativistic’) democracy-oriented approach to ESE. In order to nurture the debate on this issue, we focus on what actually takes place in diverse educational settings and on the crucial role of educators in this respect. Highlighting different aspects of this common research interest and bringing together varied national perspectives, the contributors aim to progress the theoretical conceptualisation of education in relation to sustainability transition as a process in which the political and the pedagogical are intertwined. Hasslöf, Lundegård and Malmberg elaborate on ‘social change’ in ESD from a teacher perspective. Using theoretical frameworks of Laclau and Mouffe and Biesta, they identify teachers’ subject positions (as rational subject, responsible subject and the reconstructing subject) and emerging ‘myths’ through analyses of articulations in teacher colleagues discussions of important aims of sustainability in relation to ESD. Læssøe and Van Poeck focus on how ‘change agents’ in non-formal educational settings affect the kind of educational processes that can emerge within practices pursuing a more sustainable world. Drawing on empirical analyses, they reveal the diversity of roles change agents can play and put forward an ideal typology. Connecting the latter to educational theory (metaphors of learning, functions of education) and theories linking social dynamics and social learning, the authors elaborate on how change agents face entangled political and pedagogical challenges within non-formal educational settings. Östman, Håkansson and Van Poeck depart from the re-born interest in the political dimension of ESE and investigate possibilities and risks involved in introducing the political in pluralistic ESE practice. Drawing inspiration from Mouffe’s theory of the political and Dewey’s pragmatist theory, they empirically analyse diverse educational settings. They identify situations that could be educative depending on how the educator acts and conceptualise how a pluralistic and a political dimension come together in in ESE practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EERA-ECER , 2015.
Keywords [en]
environmental and sustainability education
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-11945Local ID: 27987OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-11945DiVA, id: diva2:1408991
Conference
EERA-ECER, Budapest, Hungary (2015, 8-11 September)
Available from: 2020-02-29 Created: 2020-02-29 Last updated: 2023-01-09Bibliographically approved

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https://eera-ecer.de/previous-ecers/ecer-2015-budapest/https://eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/20/contribution/36375/

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Hasslöf, HelenMalmberg, Claes

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