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Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard

Integration of ESE and SDG 4.7 into Scandinavian and Danish elementary schooling policy and practices

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This paper presents parts of the Danish contribution to the MESIN research project focusing on sustainability education in the Nordic countries with special emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 (Jónsson et al., 2020). This goal states that: “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.” (Rieckmann, 2017). Sustainable development thus becomes the turning point for addressing the rapidly growing complexity and challenges our societies face - from climate change and biodiversity loss to ecosystem degradation and persistent poverty and inequality. Complex global challenges that loads to complex local and national practices. This paper focus on the Danish elementary schools system and how sustainability perspectives are influencing it. The paper draws on a mapping exercise of the hegemonic struggles that try to create consensus on what sustainable development is and how it should be implemented (Bengtsson, 2014). This perspective sheds light on the complexity of exploring how dominant discourses struggle to define the meaning of what environmental and sustainability education is. Drawing on discourse analysis helps to operationalize or conceptualize which intentionalities that are included in the use of sustainable development and what environmental and sustainability education entails. The emphasis of this paper is on how value judgements are determined, and how this has a crucial influence on which standards win and essentially gain power (Bengtsson, 2014). Through a survey of relevant laws, regulations, national curricula and initiatives by both governmental and non-governmental agencies and interviews with key practitioners this project will identify opportunities and barriers concerning Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) in Denmark (Lysgaard, 2018; Rolls, Madsen, Roug, & Larsen, 2015). Examining the opportunities and barriers in the formulations and negotiations surrounding question of what ESE consists of (or should consist of) today, the paper identify the current gaps and challenges in the policy formulation process using Denmark as a case. Acknowledging that sustainability issues are increasingly characterised as problems without clear-cut solutions, the growing focus on sustainability has lead to an increasing number of NGO’s participating in the formulation of new ESE strategies (Leicht, Heiss, & Byun, 2018). With reference to the Sustainable Development Goals, it is explored how the connection between sustainability and education represent a battlefield of different institutional priorities and competing conceptions of education and its objectives (Rieckmann, 2017). The paper is a part of a transnational research project (MESIN), led by the Icelandic Ministry of Science and Education, why this paper is brought to life in collaboration between Nordic educational researchers, aiming to map progress towards UN SDG 4.7 in the nordic region (Jónsson et al., 2020). Metods 400w: Seen in relation to UNESCO’s key competences, the analysis will be informed by Scandinavian and Danish traditions for incorporating ESE into formal education as well as current international efforts to mainstream ESE into formal education (Lysgaard & Jørgensen, 2019; Mogensen & Schnack, 2010; Rolls et al., 2015). Data is collected by through both desktop research and collection of empirical material: (i) reading of the educational policies of the municipalities in which the schools are located and their own educational policies or visions, with an eye to aspects that might support UN Development Goal 4.7, and (ii) interviews with (a) principals in selected schools, (b) focus group interviews with teachers and (c) a focus group interviews with students. Further analysis will highlight trends, barriers and possibilities within the empirical material related to ESE and specifically SDG 4.7. drawing on Laclau & Mouffe’s notion of discourse and hegemony (Bengtsson, 2014; Laclau & Mouffe, 1985) Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings 300w: The MESIN project will be finalised during summer 2020. The expected outcome is an up to date critical understanding of the Danish trends, barriers and potentials within Danish efforts to implement ESE and more specifically SDG 4.7 into the Danish elementary educational system. This will form part of the more overall Scandinavian perspectives through the MESIN project and its transnational scope. Of interest is how the Scandinavian school systems can absorb learning from e.g. UNESCO perspectives on integrating ESE and SDG 4.6 into formal schooling and if good examples of promising practices could be drawn from the Scandinavian efforts and shared with interested international audiences. References: Bengtsson, S. (2014). Beyond Education and Society. On the Political Life of Education for Sustainable Development. Uppsala: Uppsala University Jónsson, Ó. P., Guðmundsson, B., Øyehaug, A. B., Didham, R. J., Wolff, L.-A., Bengtson, S., . . . Brückner, M. (2020). Education for Sustainable Development in the Nordic Countries: A Comparative Examination. Paper presented at the NERA. Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and Socialt Theory: Verso. Lysgaard, J. A. (2018). Learning from Bad Practice in Environmental and Sustainability Education: Peter Lang. Lysgaard, J. A., & Jørgensen, N. J. (2019). Uddannelse, Pædagogik og Bæredygtig udvikling. Copenhagen: Frydenlund. Mogensen, F., & Schnack, K. (2010). The action competence approach and the ‘new’ discourses of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria. Environmental Education Research, 16(1), 59-74. doi:10.1080/13504620903504032 Rieckmann, M. (2017). Education for sustainable development goals. Retrieved from Paris: Rolls, S., Madsen, K. D., Roug, T. I., & Larsen, N. (2015). Search for a sea change, one drop at a time; Education for Sustainable development in Denmark. In Jucker & Mathar (Eds.), Schooling for sustainable development in Europe. Dordrecth: Springer.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventECER 2020 - European Conference of Educational Research 2020 - Online
Duration: 23 Aug 202028 Aug 2020
Conference number: 2020


ConferenceECER 2020 - European Conference of Educational Research 2020
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