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International Review of Education

, Volume 63, Issue 6, pp 793–809 | Cite as

How education for sustainable development is implemented in Germany: Looking through the lens of educational governance theory

  • Inka Bormann
  • Jutta Nikel
Original Paper

Abstract

The United Nations (UN) Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aimed to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning around the world. The authors of this article address the implementation process of ESD in Germany during the UN Decade (2005–2014). By undertaking a meta-analysis of the findings of four related sub-studies they carried out during a three-year project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the authors contribute to the understanding of the process of transferring the concept of ESD within a multi-level education system. They investigated this process at two levels – the federal state (a sub-national entity in Germany) and the communal level. Drawing on educational governance theory, the authors unveil principles, norms, rules and procedures in the coordination of action within constellations of heterogeneous actors contributing to the implementation of ESD in their social entities. The outcome of the meta-analysis describes an emerging governance regime in ESD, taking into consideration the following features impacting the coordination of action being carried out by the actors involved: (1) the understanding of the normative concept of ESD as content of negotiation; (2) the perceived opportunity for actors to gain and increase appreciation within the field of ESD as an incentive for and driver of engagement; and (3) the dynamic quality of the set-up, rules and principles of the coordination of action, which renders these subject to situative changes. In the final part of the paper, the findings are discussed from the perspectives of the theory of transfer and the current empirical basis of ESD policy and governance.

Keywords

education for sustainable development (ESD) transfer, governance methodology policy implementation United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) 

Résumé

Réalisation de l’éducation en vue du développement durable en Allemagne sous l’angle de la théorie de la gouvernance éducative – La Décennie des Nations Unies (ONU) pour l’éducation en vue du développement durable (EDD) visait à intégrer à l’échelle mondiale les principes, valeurs et pratiques du développement durable dans tous les aspects de l’éducation et de l’apprentissage. Les auteures de l’article traitent le processus de réalisation de l’EDD en Allemagne au cours de cette Décennie (2005–2014). À travers une méta-analyse des résultats de quatre études secondaires afférentes, réalisée dans le cadre d’un projet de trois ans financé par le ministre fédéral allemand de l’éducation et de la recherche, les auteures contribuent à cerner la démarche visant à transférer le concept de l’EDD dans un système éducatif multi-niveaux. Elles ont examiné ce processus à deux échelons : l’État fédéré (entité infranationale en Allemagne) et le niveau communal. S’appuyant sur la théorie de la gouvernance éducative, les auteures dévoilent les principes, normes, règles et procédures intervenant dans la coordination de l’action menée par des constellations d’acteurs hétérogènes, qui contribuent à la réalisation de l’EDD dans leurs entités sociales. Le résultat de cette méta-analyse décrit un régime de gouvernance émergent dans l’EDD, qui tient compte des caractéristiques suivantes impactant la coordination de l’action menée par les acteurs impliqués : 1) le concept normatif de l’EDD interprété comme thème de concertation ; 2) l’opportunité perçue par les acteurs d’obtenir et de renforcer une reconnaissance dans le domaine de l’EDD, qui constitue une incitation à l’engagement et un moteur d’engagement ; 3) la qualité dynamique de la réalisation, des règles et des principes régissant l’action de coordination, qui rend ces derniers sujets à des changements situationnels. En dernière partie de l’article, les résultats sont présentés dans l’optique de la théorie du transfert ainsi que de la base empirique actuelle des politiques et gouvernances en matière d’EDD.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We cordially thank our project partners Thomas Brüsemeister, Kathleen Franz, Christoph Haker, Steffen Hamborg, Martin Heinrich and Maike Lambrecht (in alphabetical order) for their dedicated collaboration. The research presented here was supported by a grant from the German Federal State Ministry for Education and Research (BNE 007–BNE 010).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.University of Education FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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