Learning and Sustainable Development - A Conceptual Review of International Literature on Education for Sustainable Development

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Title: Learning and Sustainable Development - A Conceptual Review of International Literature on Education for Sustainable Development
Author: Koskela, Iida-Maria
Publisher: Finnish Environment Institute
Date: 2019
Belongs to series: Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 32/2019
ISBN: 978-952-11-5060-9
ISSN: 1796-1726
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/306566
Abstract: Sustainable Development is a contested concept, yet some major transformations towards a more sustainable world must occur to ensure global wellbeing within planetary boundaries. The United Nations’ Agenda2030 provides a global vision for pathways towards sustainability. For achieving its goals, learning and education are in a crucial role. This report is a conceptual literature review synthesising international and mainly peer-reviewed research on sustainable behaviour and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The aim is to explore what kinds of factors explain sustainable behaviour and how learning and education can further sustainability transformations. There are several factors that explain commitment to sustainable behaviour, including demographic factors (such as age and gender), internal factors (for example nature connectedness and self-efficacy), as well as external factors (such as cultural and social norms). There seems to be a positive connection between education and sustainable behaviour, yet higher income may also result in adopting individual behaviours with a negative environmental impact. Moreover, it is typical that people’s behaviours demonstrate a value-action, attitude-action, concern-action, or knowledge-action gap. The aim of ESD is to support developing the knowledges, skills, competencies and attitudes needed to live in an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable manner in the changing world. ESD has potential to drive sustainability transformations through providing meaningful learning experiences for people at all ages both in formal education from early childhood education to higher education and outside formal education systems in everyday life, at work, in communities and generally in the society. Pedagogical solutions that enable critical deliberation, experiential learning, authentic participation and multi-actor collaboration while maintaining hope seem to support implementing transformative ESD. However, individual learning experiences are undermined if the surrounding society does not support sustainable behaviour and sustainability transformations. Thus, the magnitude and urgency of the current local and global problems require a joint and continuous learning process, which involves all societal actors to collaboratively seek for sustainable solutions.


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