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Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard

Environmental and sustainable action competence as a part of the folkbildning research field

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born into a distinct cultural and historical context, and that it is within this framework that their own personal drama of Enlightenment and bildning must be played out. On the other hand, it suggests that there is a collective as well as individual aspect to the experience of Enlightenment, and that it must be the goal of a society to create, though wise and farsighted policies, the conditions that will facilitate folkbildning or People’s Enlightenment (Borish, 1991). This concept has remained central to the development of Danish civil society initiatives for almost 200 years and is today in use to describe non-formal adult education, but also education focusing on youth and children. This includes the Folk high schools, with emphasis on general ‘Bildung’ and with no examinations, but also liberal education at evening schools, and sporting, youth and cultural associations. Folkbildning thus focuses on developing the individual’s competences to be part of a democratic society via subjects that often are not part of the formal educational system (Korsgaard, 2002). A central part of being a competent citizen in today’s Nordic societies is to be able to relate to and act upon issues linked to environmental and sustainability issues. These issues have been heavily mainstreamed during the last decade and has witnessed further acceleration into the public limelight with the arrival of the UN 2030 sustainable development goals (Leicht, Heiss, & (eds), 2018). The overall link between education, bildning and environmental and sustainability goals can often end up in a very technical discussion of specific change in behaviours and practices in order to lower CO2 emissions and the individual and societal carbon footprint. This often results in expert driven emphasis on education and learning as tools for implementing desirable behaviour modification and ensuring adaptiveness towards technological fixes. There is, however, also a strong and competing critical tradition for linking these issues with a more continental understanding of bildning, education and pedagogy. The notion of action competence has established itself as a central concept when arguing for a broader and more nuanced pedagogical and educational approach to environmental and sustainability issues and has remained strong in both Nordic countries and globally since the development of the concept at the Danish school of Education (DPU) during the 90s and 00s (Mogensen & Schnack, 2010). This concept draws on critical theory and the potentially emancipatory aspects of environmental education. Action competence is a strong voice against the lure of behaviour modification within environmental education in both formal and non-formal settings and has inspired education, curriculum and nationals policies in the Nordic countries and e.g. New Zealand, Australia, Germany and South Africa. The concept is closely related to folkbildning with its unquenchable focus on the intrinsic importance of each individual’s norms, values and actions. Thus an explicit notion of environmental and sustainability action competence, in the light of e.g. UNESCOs 8 competences for education for sustainable development goals (UNESCO, 2017), could be explored as a path of linking the important and vibrant tradition of folkbildning directly to more nuanced understandings of the challenges and educational potentials that challenges such as global warming, climate crisis, environmental issues pose to us all as individuals and citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearMay 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Event8th Nordic Conference on Adult Education and Learning: Sustainable adult education and learning in organisational settings - Danish School of Education, København NV, Denmark
Duration: 13 May 201915 May 2019


Conference8th Nordic Conference on Adult Education and Learning
LocationDanish School of Education
CityKøbenhavn NV
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Dannelse/demokrati/værdier, Livslang læring

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