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Political dimensions of environmental and sustaianbility education reserach - postcolonial lens, global inequities, poverty in the “south”
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3386-3411
2015 (English)In: Education and Transition – Contributions from Educational Research, 2015Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

For many years there has been calls from international organisations (UNESCO) and national governments for education to be oriented towards social change, sustainability and preparing students for life in a global society. This has been described as a curricular global turn in national school curricula and international policies (Mannion, Biesta, Priestley & Ross 2011; Martin 2011). As educators we are encouraged to ‘globalise’ education or ‘think globally’ through ‘bringing the world into the classroom’ and promoting global issues and perspectives in the curriculum.

Within our field of research global development issues have been critically investigated and discussed. A number of debaters have described education for the environment as indoctrination and that such an approach to education has universalizing tendencies that seek to marginalise other approaches and turns education into a political tool (cf. Jickling 1992; Jickling and Spork 1998; Sauvé 1999; Jickling and Wals, 2008; Van Poeck and Vandenabeele, 2012; Sund and Lysgaard, 2013, etc.). Deploying feminist and postcolonial scholars, Noel Gough (2002) criticised the position that a culturally transcendent environmental science is possible and instead suggested ‘that “thinking globally” in science and environmental education might best be understood as a process of creating transnational “spaces” in which scholars from different localities collaborate in reframing and decentring their own knowledge traditions’ (cf. Sund and Öhman, 2014a)

Despite this, ESE is quite often treated as politically neutral and/or intrinsically good. We would like to turn your attention to the fact that policies[1], curricular reform and activities with the objective of developing global solidarity and building a sustainable citizenship very often foreclose the complex historical, cultural and political nature of these issues. These universal global perspectives tend to overlook and respect locally identified needs.

ESE educators cannot, therefore, hide behind ‘good intentions’. This is further exemplified when universal values and a universal ethics are connected to the Enlightenment and to Western culture. ESE then risks becoming problematic if it is to enlighten people in other parts of the world. We argue that the apparent rush to ‘globalise’ and/or ‘universalize’ would benefit from an unpacking of the assumption that global/universal is better and a reminder that the universal is always articulated in a particular context.[2]

[1] Examples are the Earth Charter (2000) and the Johannesburg Declaration (World Summit on Sustainable Development [WSSD] 2002). The WSSD borrows language from the Charter on the theme ‘Making it happen’: ‘We commit ourselves to act together, united by a common determination to save our planet, promote human development and achieve universal prosperity and peace’ (Paragraph 35, WSSD 2002).

[2] The contextuality of ESE-related issues and the importance of using non-western values and traditions to inform the development of ESE curricula is described by Wals (2009, 16), who underlines that: ‘Although both the challenge of sustainable development and the call for ESD is worldwide, there is a general understanding that the local realities and manifestations of ‘unsustainability’ are often quite different and deeply rooted in local histories and political and cultural traditions.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-33047OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-33047DiVA, id: diva2:957168
Conference
The European Conference on Educational Research, Sept 8th -11th, Budapest, Hungary
Available from: 2016-09-01 Created: 2016-09-01 Last updated: 2016-12-19Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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