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Focusing on the challenges of the transition to responsible, sustainable lifestyles, this book examines developments over the last decade in relation to:

- the creation of awareness of consumer citizenship, civic involvement and environmental stewardship

- research, projects and publications on education for responsible living

- the creation and implementation of relevant teaching methods and materials

- policies on education for sustainable consumption and lifestyles

- global processes for education on sustainable development

The articles deal with topics related to policy support, institutional approaches, educators, young people, and local communities. They draw attention to successful initiatives and reflect upon what still needs to be done. The book also looks at the roles that central actors such as PERL (The Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living) play in this process.





Responsible Living: Concepts, Education and Future Perspectives

Focusing on the challenges of the transition to responsible, sustainable lifestyles, this book examines developments over the last decade in relation to:
the creation of awareness about consumer citizenship, civic involvement and environmental stewardship;
research, projects and publications about education for responsible living;
the creation and implementation of relevant teaching methods and materials;
policies on education for sustainable consumption and lifestyles;
global processes for education for sustainable development.
The articles deal with topics related to policy support, institutional approaches, educators, youth, and local communities. They draw attention to successful initiatives and reflect upon what still needs to be done. The book also looks at the roles central actors such as PERL (The Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living) play in this process.
Robert J. Didham, Declan Doyle, Jørgen Klein, Victoria W. Thoresen

The Route to Responsible Living: Doubting, Discovering, Daring and Doing

Dramatic changes have characterized many decades, but the transformations of the past thirty years have forced individuals as well as governments and businesses to question many of the choices people make and to revise existing definitions of human prosperity and happiness. Climate change, life-style related illnesses, and environmental degradation are growing concerns which have led to calls for greater collaboration and social justice and have fueled the search for alternative ways of living. “Development”, implying unlimited material and economic growth, is no longer the panacea it once was believed to be. “Social responsibility” now encompasses a far wider set of people affected by a person’s lifestyle choices than in the past. “Sufficiency”, the condition where one’s basic needs are met, has yet to become more equitable than minimal survival for many and luxury existence for a select few. There have been many participants in the processes of rethinking and reorienting the path humanity is following. The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) has made significant contributions. This article looks at the evolution of concepts related to sustainable development. It reflects on some of the developments within education connected to sustainable development and it examines briefly available evidence of changes in behavior. The results of this limited research and other more extensive investigations indicate that while a paradigm shift appears to be taking place, there is still a continued need for transformation of our inner lives and outer conditions in order to achieve a more dynamic coherence between the material and non-material aspects of life leading to responsible, sustainable living.
Victoria W. Thoresen

Advancing Norms and Policies

Ethics in Sustainability Education

Underlying many sustainability challenges are fundamental ethical issues of equity and responsibility concerning the behaviour of individuals, communities, businesses and nations. Resolving these challenges requires changes in human and institutional behaviour at all these levels. Using a systems perspective, it is possible to derive a set of ethical principles for sustainability. An increasing recognition of the importance of this ethical component is reflected in educational materials for responsible living and accompanying values-based indicators and activities. There are still significant obstacles to the incorporation of this dimension into educational systems that need to be addressed with care. Other partners, both religious and secular, can be involved constructively in this process. Given the urgency of responding to challenges such as climate change and the difficulty in motivating people to change their lifestyles, ethical approaches to sustainable living need to be strengthened and diffused widely in the years ahead.
Arthur Lyon Dahl

Learning for Sustainability

A Systemic Approach to Behaviour and Beliefs
Human capacities and beliefs tend to lead us to construct systems that are inherently unsustainable. With the modern capability of humankind to extract more and more resources globally, resources are rapidly depleting and the effects are escalating. The human capacity for reflection and conscious action seems not to have kept pace with the capacity and desire to use more and more resources. Further, the emerging problems appear to be global, not solvable locally. This gives rise to a feeling of disempowerment that is a basic dysfunctional belief system. It may lead either to paralysis of decision-making, or too rushed action in which each stakeholder lobbies for their own solution and competes with others. This is part of the challenge of sustainable development: to bring back the sense that action, especially cooperative action, can bring results, also in the context of the need for transformational rather than marginal change. A second key challenge is to enable much more effective learning from experience. This paper documents an action research journey that took its departure point in this second challenge, expanded to include consideration of dysfunctional belief systems (patterns), and converged to prioritize a key question: how to design a process that will significantly enhance learning from experience, in the short and long term. The resulting methodology—a workshop format and toolbox—are the major focus of this paper. It can be used in any context, though conceived for initiatives for sustainable development. It has been designed to support conscious decisions of where and how to act, including an improved capacity to choose for transformational change.
Marilyn Mehlmann, Miriam Sannum, Andre Benaim

ESD and Assessing the Quality of Education and Learning

Education is an essential component of three global development agendas, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Education for All (EFA) and the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is argued that focus on the quality and relevance of education can assist in the current process of renewing the three agendas. During the last decade, ESD-based approaches and initiatives have shown to be able to produce quality learning outcomes, in formal school systems and other learning settings. Two examples of effective ESD-inspired initiatives with teacher educators in Southern Africa and with multi-stakeholder city team in Southern Asia are described and their essential transformational features identified. Proposals by the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) are an attempt at being more responsive to the quality dimension of education by broadening learning domains. However, high-stakes (international) testing instruments are not necessarily aligned with the needs of relevant and quality education. The transformational ESD features show what can be done to make educational testing and assessment more inclusive, appropriate and useful.
Frans Lenglet

Creating Meaningful Life for a Responsible and Sustainable Future

Major environmental problems at the present time can readily generate many unpleasant feelings in anyone digging into the roots of the current world situation. However, this paper tries to emphasize an alternative way. Humans are subject to determinism but retain a capacity to choose an attitude against their situation in life and themselves. The paper builds on Viktor Frankl’s existential analysis and logotherapy. Frankl states that life itself posses a question concerning the meaning of life and each of us has to individually answer to life by answering for life; he or she has to respond by being responsible. The study showed empirical evidence and theoretical explanations for a principal idea that by creating meaning of life each individual can perceive the chance for a responsible and sustainable existence. The results supported our assumption that experiencing a sense of meaning in daily life to higher degree leads to increased pro-environmental intentions and actual behaviours. Results showed that a meaning of life partly mediate the impact of pro-environmental intentions on pro-environmental behaviours. The study not only provided new important data for closing the value-action gap, but it also illuminated some possible pathways toward developing education for responsible and sustainable living.
Gregor Torkar

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Living

Harnessing Social Media
The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) (2005–2014), sought to promote a more sustainable world through different forms of education, training and public awareness activities with four overarching goals, that is, to promote and improve the quality of education, to reorient the existing education programmes and to raise public awareness and understanding of the concept of sustainable development (UNESCO 2012). This chapter focuses mainly on public awareness activities and in particular harnessing of new information and communication platforms such as social media, for the purposes of developing an enlightened, active and responsible citizenship, locally, nationally and internationally as envisaged in the objectives of agenda 21.
Martin Nkosi Ndlela

Transforming Learning Environments and Educational Approaches

Enriching Responsible Living Curricula with Transdisciplinarity

This chapter tenders a new approach for enriching responsible living curricula predicated on transdisciplinarity. It weaves together four large ideas to support the argument that learners can make more responsible life choices if they are exposed to a transdisciplinary-informed curriculum: transdisciplinary knowledge, transdisciplinary habits of mind (cognitive skills), transdisciplinary learning (iterative cycle), and the transdisciplinary learning approach (including the four pillars of education needed for the 21st century). The entire discussion is grounded in Professor Dr. Basarab Nicolescu’s approach to transdisciplinarity: Multiple Levels of Reality mediated by the Hidden Third (to reconcile conflicting perspectives); the Logic of the Included Middle; and, knowledge as complex, emergent, embodied and cross-fertilized.
Sue L. T. McGregor

Making the Invisible Visible: Designing Values-Based Indicators and Tools for Identifying and Closing ‘Value-Action Gaps’

It has often been observed that even when people publicly espouse certain values, they do not inevitably perform the actions or behaviours that one would expect to be associated with these values. This has been termed a ‘value-action gap’. Academic research on the barriers to pro-environmental behaviour has served primarily to highlight the complexity of this area; but a problem-centred approach to learning, led by civil society organizations, has been shown to generate effective solutions. One example is the design and use of values-based indicators—statements that link generic or specific ‘values vocabulary’ to specific real-world referents such as behaviours or perceptions. In this chapter, we discuss the application of values-based indicators for the twofold purpose of reflection (inspiring teaching and learning) and evaluation (guiding organizational development). We first describe the EU-funded project within which values-based indicators were initially developed, and provide an overview of the processes leading to the initial design of a project evaluation toolkit (‘WeValue’) and the evidence of its usefulness for identifying and bridging value-action gaps in civil society organizations providing education for sustainability. The central section of this paper reports on a co-design project to develop a toolkit of values-based indicators for secondary schools, primarily for teaching and learning purposes. Finally, in the discussion section, we suggest a theoretical grounding for the use of values-based indicators to close value-action gaps; identify a new kind of gap that has not previously been described in the literature; and reflect on some of the wider implications of our work.
Gemma Burford, Elona Hoover, Arthur Dahl, Marie K. Harder

Green Flag Eco-Schools and the Challenge of Moving Forward

In this article we look at the Green Flag Eco-school approach in a time perspective. We make a distinction between internal and external time perspectives with the first focusing on the process inside the school and the second on changes in the surrounding world challenging but also opening for new ways forward for the educational approach. Based on a study of four experienced Green Flag schools in Denmark we identify problems with maintaining a dynamic process after the first years of establishment. We also identify problems with the involvement of the whole school and relate this problem of disintegration to the external time perspective where the environmental management approach has been challenged by request for more integrative approaches. In the final section we discuss whether it is possible to open for a more integrative approach to sustainability without losing the strong identity and concrete action orientation which have made the Green Flag approach successful. In line with the concept of responsible living we propose to do so by focusing on practices and products in the lived life as concrete points of departures for exemplary learning on how ecological, economic and socio-cultural issues always are inter-related.
Jonas Greve Lysgaard, Niels Larsen, Jeppe Læssøe

Envisioning Literacy to Promote Sustainable Wellbeing

Home Economics Perspectives
Sustainable wellbeing and development can be seen as the ultimate goal of all human activity. It challenges us to strive for holistic frameworks and integrated approaches to discover the core phenomena and processes embedded in our daily lives and guiding us as consumer-citizens interconnected with our numerous human roles. This conceptual and theoretical research will reflect on the concept of literacy and literacies, and inquire how these might extend our understanding of the complex phenomena of sustainability and wellbeing. Literacy can be defined as ‘a tool and a process to position, to build relations, and to communicate with our environment and the world’. These elements will be considered in relation to home economics/family and consumer sciences, and their positioning in changing societies and educational settings. Envisioning the future, including our future collective intentions, will guide the article, as will the rich resource base created under CCN and PERL’s efforts to promote responsible living.
Kaija Turkki

Building a Social Justice Pillar for Youth Career Development

A Qualitative Study
The qualitative study presented aims at gaining an in-depth understanding of: Structural barriers to socially just employment amongst 16–25 years old living in Catalonia (Spain); competences to be developed in order to lower them; how educational centers and specifically their career guidance practices can contribute to build-up such competences. Results obtained identify the economic model, the economic crisis, socioeconomic policies, social stereotypes and discrimination, social inequality, the educational system and inappropriate career development practices as main structural barriers to socially just employment. Communicative, methodological, personal, competences to live together aimed at lowering such barriers are described. Furthermore, strategies that educational centers can carry-out to build the identified competences are presented. When it comes to career guidance within educational centers, results obtained in the study show it is mainly perceived as an individual matching process to access an unjust occupational status quo. However, based on all results obtained, proposals are made to move towards a social justice career development approach aimed at empowering youth to be agents of socially just employment.
Carme Martínez-Roca, Màrius Martínez, Pilar Pineda

Empowering Youth and Local Communities


Are Food Convenience and Sustainable Consumption Mutually Exclusive?

Home Economics Literacy to the Rescue
This article offers an introduction to the literature on convenience foods as a growing phenomenon within contemporary lifestyles and on the emerging interest and practices in sustainable food consumption. Various factors influence the use of convenience foods, including time availability, values related to health and the natural environment, as well as cooking skills. Some of these factors also feature in choices and behaviours related to sustainable food consumption; although other factors such as knowledge, food labelling and belief in ones own potential positive impact also play a role. The importance of education for sustainable food consumption as a key strategy for improving individual and planetary wellbeing is outlined and the link with Home Economics literacy and particularly food literacy is explained. Building on the literature, and the discipline’s aims and practical application, suggestions are presented on how Home Economics educational initiatives can facilitate convenience in food preparation, whilst keeping in mind principles of sustainable consumption.
Suzanne Piscopo

A World at Stake—Global Citizenship, Justice, and the Role of Museums

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate museums’ potential for promoting global awareness and social justice. The paper presents and analyses a controversial Danish exhibition titled A world at stake. The travelling exhibition was based on the concept of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and designed as a full-scale board game covering an area of 250 m2, large enough for a class of pupils to take the role of live playing pieces. The exhibition was launched in 2010 by the Danish science centre Experimentarium, and circulated in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway until mid-2014. The target group was mainly pupils from primary and secondary schools. The exhibition was controversial due to its presentation of an unjust world in an unjust manner. The paper critically analyses the exhibition and its embedded pedagogy by drawing on the concepts of global citizenship and social justice.
Sigurd Solhaug Nielsen, Jørgen Klein

Social Learning for Sustainability

Advancing Community-Based Inquiry and Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Lifestyles
The pursuit of sustainable lifestyles is one that occurs simultaneously at individual, collective and societal levels. Education for sustainable development (ESD), and the offshoot education for sustainable lifestyles (ESL), has generally targeted individual learning and behaviour change. Although, there are several good examples of cooperative and collaborative learning for sustainability in both formal and non-formal educational initiatives. This paper examines the processes of social learning that occur in such collaborative learning cases. Social learning theory has evolved through three distinct phases. The first phase was grounded in the field cognitive psychology, and it provides an explanation of how individuals learn from society or social observation. The second phase developed from the field of organisational studies as an explanation of organisational learning and how collective learning is achieved through an amalgamation of the individual learning of group members. The third phase of social learning is currently evolving as a combination of ecological and educational perspectives, and it aims to explain how sustainability learning can occur collectively and as a society, i.e. for social transformation. In this chapter, a comparative evaluation of five case studies from the Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD in East Asia is conducted to identify what are the social learning processes present across the cases. The main features of community of practice theory are examined as the potential conditions for establishing an effective learning community. The comparative case evaluation demonstrates a high level of benefit in achieving effective social learning in such sustainability initiatives which contributes to smooth implementation of new initiatives as well as strengthening their overall efficacy and longevity.
Robert J. Didham, Paul Ofei-Manu

Envisioning as an Enabling Tool for Social Empowerment and Sustainable Democracy

The future is commonly acknowledged as important to investigate and discuss for the sake of society whereas we can, at the same time, acknowledge how public discourse in our contemporary societies is only offering poor, stereotyped and often negative visions of future. This paper reframes the evolution of attitudes towards the future in our recent history through technological positivism, acknowledgment of a complex and unknowable future, emphasis on marketing reactivity in place of anticipation, and increased development of dystopic visions of threatening unsustainable future. It will review the current situation where the future is omnipresent in media stressing its poor, uniformed, technology-driven form lacking creative imagining, accessible and attractive envisioning and rich public deliberation. The authors then build on a series of recent sustainable visioning activities (i.e. public cultural exhibition, digital interactive media, foresight visualisations for public authorities, projection exercises involving youths in schools and universities, etc.) to show how emerging practices involving designers skills to generate participative visioning processes resulting in concrete forms of anticipation accessible to all and likely to enable both formal deliberative processes and informal social conversations on the future, as well as empowerment of citizens in education for responsible living and democracy.
François Jégou, Christophe Gouache

Special Interview


Reflections on a Dedicated Partnership

An Interview with Victoria W. Thoresen
The following is an interview by Siri Wieberg Klausen with Victoria W. Thoresen who holds the UNESCO Chair for Education for Sustainable Living at Hedmark University College, Norway. Victoria W. Thoresen is the founder and director of The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) and of its predecessor, The Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN). CCN and PERL have concentrated on research and education about consumer citizenship, sustainable lifestyles and responsible living for more than a decade.
Siri Wieberg Klausen
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