Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 987–1002 | Cite as

Sustainability in environmental education: new strategic thinking

  • Helen KopninaEmail author


Recently environmental education (EE) literature has been supportive of pluralistic rather than goal-oriented learning. Researchers argue that sustainability is not fixed but socially constructed and that sustainability issues should not be represented as indisputable targets. Countering this trend in environmental education research, this article argues that unsustainability should be treated as a concrete challenge that requires concrete solutions. The author will argue that there is a need for clear articulation of (1) what (un)sustainability is; (2) what are the key challenges of (un)sustainability; and (3) how the sustainability challenges can be meaningfully addressed. This article will outline a number of helpful frameworks that address obstacles to sustainability, ranging from population growth to unsustainable production and consumption practices. Solutions include investment in family planning to counter the effects of overpopulation, and alternative production frameworks, such as Cradle to Cradle that differs from the conventional frameworks. This article will conclude with the broader reflection that without goal-oriented critical learning explicitly providing sound models of sustainability, open learning may never permit transcendence from unsustainability. This article will develop a number of comprehensive frameworks targeted at solutions to sustainability issues both from ethical and practical perspectives.


Circular economy Cradle to Cradle Education for sustainable development (ESD) Environmental education Sustainable consumption 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Researcher/Lecturer and Sustainable Business Program CoordinatorThe Hague University of Applied ScienceThe HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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