Sustainable What? Higher Education, Social Justice and the ‘Sustainability Education’ Project
In the United Nations’ Decade for Sustainable Development, the Education for Sustainability (EfS) project has emerged as a strong presence in the higher education institutions (HEI) of the developed world. But what exactly does this project seek to sustain? The Brundtland Commission defined sustainability in terms of the need to preserve resources for future generations. How might this definition translate into sustainable education, and higher education in particular? This paper focuses on the nature (and culture) of the engagements of the EfS project with concepts of social justice and equity in access to post compulsory education. EfS is a growing intellectual and political movement in HEI in the developed world, attracting research dollars and generating considerable scholarship. EfS draws together some otherwise widely disparate disciplinary approaches especially chemistry, architecture, philosophy, sociology, engineering and education. This paper will interrogate the reflexivities of EfS in terms of the projects’ use of a social sustainability lens on its own goals and activities. Using c theoretical tools drawn from cultural studies and education I will explore presences and absences in the narrative of EfS.
Keywords: Education for Sustainability (EfS), Higher Education (HE), Reflexivity, Social Justice, Triple Bottom Line, Economic, Environmental, Social, Governance
Dr. Kathryn Rosemary Hegarty
Research Fellow, School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University