Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 889–905 | Cite as

Searching for a crack to let environment light in: ecological biopolitics and education for sustainable development discourses

  • Annette Gough
Original Paper


This article traces the shifts in environmental education discourses from the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, to the 2012 UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, and beyond through a biopolitical lens. Each of the earlier shifts is reflected in environmental, sustainability and science education policies and curricula—but what of the most recent shifts at Rio+20 and in UNESCO’s (2014) Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development? The article examines how the ecological version of politics emerged and then became integrated into technocentric biopolitics and how this shift affected the shaping of environmental, sustainability and science education policies and curricula. In particular, the article analyzes the shifting biopolitical interfaces that have occurred between “natural environment” and “society”—from a goal of preserving the natural foundations of life to a focus on exploiting these foundations, modifying and transforming the environment through scientific and technological means—and the manifestations of this in Australian curriculum documents.


Biopolitics Environment Environmental education Sustainability Science education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationRMIT UniversityBundooraAustralia

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