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Preparing for the Ecocene:Envisioning futures for environmental and sustainability education

Journal article
Authors Arjen E.J. Wals
Peter Blaze Corcoran
Joseph Weakland
Published in Japanese Journal of Environmental Education
Volume 26
Issue 4
Pages 71-76
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Pages 71-76
Language en
Keywords environmental education, ESD, Ecocene, Anthropocene, post-humanism
Subject categories Pedagogy, Didactics, Learning, Environmental Engineering, Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


This contribution provides some insights in possible future developments in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE). Some challenges for the field are presented in light of a rapidly changing world that has homogenizing and polarizing tendencies. Four different movements and emphases within education, communication, and participation in relation to people and planet are distinguished: from nature conservation education (NCE), to environmental education (EE), to education for sustainable development (ESD) to environmental and sustainability education (ESE). These different ‘educations’ do not literally succeed one another. Rather, they often they run parallel. The authors observe a trend in some parts of the world towards convergence where both sense of place and the strengthening of relationships between people and people and the non-human and more-than-human world, as well as the questioning of deep rooted structures and hegemonic values, engaging multiple actors with sometime conflicting views and the crossing of boundaries between sectors and disciplines, are considered critical. The readers of this special issue are challenged to mirror these movements with their own histories and realities but also to imagine how nascent scientific, technological, social, and ecological developments might perturb, disrupt, and/or transform the field of environmental education in ways that allow for more sustainable futures to emerge.

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