Teaching sustainability in Norway, China and Ghana: challenges to the UN programme

Teaching sustainability in Norway, China and Ghana: challenges to the UN programme

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Nina Witoszek

Pages: 1-14 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1307944


The article compares how the UN-initiated education for sustainable development (ESD) has fared in three seemingly dissimilar countries: Norway, a wealthy, ‘post-materialist’ liberal democracy, Ghana, a developing democratic country, and China, a fast catching-up, centrally- steered economy. The study – based on an analysis of national ESD programmes, schoolbooks and qualitative interviews with teachers and students – discusses some of the pivotal reasons for the decline in ESD schooling in all three countries. It also explores surprising ‘archipelagos of pedagogical innovation’, as shown by one of the high schools in Ghana. Our conclusions are that, apart from specific, cultural and political contexts which influence ESD, students’ socio-environmental literacy in the examined countries has been affected by an ever more pervasive competitive and neoliberal mindset. Further, in all three cases, the agenda of ‘sustainable development’ suffers from a ‘narrative and mythical deficit’: a lack of a mobilizing story, the absence of which reduces the attractiveness of sustainability ideals and inhibits their empowering potential.

Keywords: Education for sustainability, comparative curriculum studies, modernity, environmental values




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