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Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard

Reclaim “Education” in environmental and sustainability education research

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

  • Jonas Greve Lysgaard
  • Per Sund, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Mälardalen University, PO Box 325, Eskilstuna 63105, Sweden, Sweden
Introduction: this paper looks into the the nascent research area of Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) and argues that it needs a firm grounding in educational philosophy in order to focus more on education. The paper is based on experiences at two recent conferences focusing on research in this field. Issues related to content, attitudes and long-term aims dominated at these conferences, while learning processes were often taken for granted.

Objectives: This paper highlights the risk that, without a connection to educational philosophy, Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) research can result in normative statements that may essentially be regarded as mis-educative. All education is normative in the sense that it has a purpose. The normativity that is problematized here is the tendency to use ESE as a platform for prescribing how the knowledge that is acquired in school should be applied beyond the learning context. Change for the better, whatever this might mean, can be a noble cause, but it should not tempt researchers and educators to force distinct solutions and behavior change strategies onto students and members of the public. The purpose of this paper is thus to signal the need for more democratic and student participative ESE research by providing examples of connections between ESE research and educational philosophy.

Methods: In the paper, the role of education is briefly discussed as a prelude to reflection on some of the authors’ personal experiences at two recent Educational research conferences. This is followed by examples of how tendencies toward normativity and behavior modification occur and influence educational activities. Previous research initiatives incorporating insights from educational philosophy are presented, followed by an example of how more recent philosophical contributions can provide inspiration for the further development of ESE research.

Results: By looking at trends within current ESE research, especially as found at conferences such as WEEC, the paper exihibtis examples of tendencies towards Normativity and Behavior Modification and looks into how educational philosophy can remind us about the lure of Normativity. the paper also looks into earlier examples within the field of drawing on educational philosophy in order to strentghen the quality of the research within the field, and how this could be of releveance to contemporary research.

Conclusion: The argument of this paper relates to the importance of how the field of ESE continues to push important and necessary agendas, as demonstrated in Ardoin, Clark and Kelsey’s survey of future trends. Although central future topics might include community and the link between the social and ecological, urbanity and the digital age, these need to be linked to a more substantial interest in the educational process and the many philosophical strands associated with it. If this is not done, EE and ESD research could become a 'large fish in a small pond'.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year30 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015
EventWorld Environmental Education Conference: Planet and People - How can they develop together - Gothenbrug, Sweden
Duration: 29 Jun 20152 Jul 2015


ConferenceWorld Environmental Education Conference

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