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Ethics Teaching in Education for Sustainable Development
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4637-6903
2020 (English)In: Abstract Book: 22nd Annual International Conference on Education 18-21 May 2020, Athens, Greece / [ed] Gregory T. Papanikos, Aten: Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), 2020, p. 53-54Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is nowadays internationally regarded as an important aspect of the overall education of children and young people in the world (e.g., UNESCO, 2019, Education for sustainable development: Partners in action – Global action programme (GAP) key partners' report (2015-2018); https:// unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000368829). Importantly, it is included among the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (goal 4; https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/). Besides its content – sustainable development – ESD is also characterized by its emphasis on interactive and participatory approaches to education: "Designing teaching and learning in an interactive, learner-centred way that enables exploratory, action oriented and transformative learning" (UNESCO, 2019, "What is education for sustainable development?"; https://en.unesco.org/the mes/education-sustainable-development/what-is-esd). In this paper, we show how both these aspects of ESD – its content and approach to education – reveal the importance of ethics teaching in ESD as well as provide challenges with respect to such teaching.

Content: The object of ESD – the idea of sustainable development – is both normative and imprecise. It is normative because it is assumed that sustainable development is something that we ought to strive for. It is imprecise because the different concepts that together constitute the idea of sustainable development (such as 'needs', 'abilities' and 'the future'; see World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, Our Common Future, Ch. 2, §1; https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ content/ documents/5987our-common-future.pdf) can all be given different interpretations generating conflicting sustainability goals (weak or strong) (see, e.g., A. Dobson, 1998, Justice and the environment: Conceptions of environmental sustainability and theories of distributive justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Ch. 2). This means that ESD is never neutral. Instead it rests on implicit or explicit ethical assumptions. Hence, a comprehensive and reflective ESD requires that one reveals and discusses such assumptions.

Approach: The kinds of interactive and participatory approaches to education that are assumed in ESD are, arguably, as such suitable for the task of revealing and discussing ethical assumptions. However, this requires that an appropriate approach to ethics education is incorporated within ESD. Two potential problems present themselves at this point: (1) the most common way of teaching ethics – a theory-based approach – seems ill suited for this task; (2) in the context of ESD we need an approach to ethics education that is available also to teachers who are not experienced within the field of ethics (since most teachers involved in ESD arguably belong to this group of teachers). The challenge, hence, is to find an approach to ethics teaching in ESD that is (1) suitable with respect to both its content and its approach to education, and (2) available also to teachers who are not experienced within the field of ethics. We suggest a certain methods-based approach to ethics education (that we have previously developed in detail) as a promising candidate for this task.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Aten: Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), 2020. p. 53-54
Series
Education Abstracts ; 22
Keywords [en]
education for sustainable development, ESD, sustainable development, ethics education, teaching ethics, participatory education
National Category
Ethics Philosophy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-171531ISBN: 978-960-598-325-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-171531DiVA, id: diva2:1434821
Conference
22nd Annual International Conference on Education, 18-21 May 2020, Athens, Greece
Available from: 2020-06-03 Created: 2020-06-03 Last updated: 2021-05-25Bibliographically approved

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Samuelsson, LarsLindström, Niclas

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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