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Segmented prizing: biopolitical differentiation in education for sustainable development

Journal article
Authors Beniamin Knutsson
Published in Compare
ISSN 0305-7925
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Keywords biopolitics; differentiation; education for sustainable development; inequality; lifestyle; prize
Subject categories Globalization Studies, Didactics, International education, Pedagogy, Educational Sciences


Prizes and awards have received limited attention in scholarly research. The present paper engages with the prestigious UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development, which annually honours three outstanding projects related to education for sustainable development (ESD). Drawing on biopolitical theory, the paper explores what this prize can tell us about the global community’s quest for sustainable development. While the award is global in scope and alludes to humanity’s joint responsibility for the planet, the analysis shows that the winning organizations approach rich and poor populations around the world in entirely different ways; assigning to them different roles, responsibilities and lifestyles. ESD discourse thus displays a remarkable ability to accommodate the lifestyle divide that separates rich and poor; suggesting that inequality has become effectively normalised. Ultimately it is argued that differentiating practices in the global implementation of ESD constitutes an urgent area of further research for comparative and international education.

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