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Whole School Approaches to Sustainability

Education Renewal in Times of Distress

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  • Open Access
  • © 2024

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  • Provides a comprehensive treatment of the emerging whole school approach to sustainability challenges
  • Offers a systemic and relational approach to educational innovation that spans different levels of formal education
  • Includes contributions from different geographical and socio-cultural contexts
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Sustainable Development Goals Series (SDGS)

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About this book

In response to urgent global sustainability challenges, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education have been prioritized in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 under SDG 4.7. There is a growing awareness that treating concepts such as global citizenship, sustainable development, climate urgency, and health and well-being as separate subjects or topics to be added to a curriculum is ineffective as they are highly interconnected. Additionally, this approach is problematic as schools already have an overcrowded curriculum.

This edited volume brings together a range of scholars and reflective practitioners from across the globe who are investigating and enacting a whole school approach (WSA) in education for sustainability. While the WSA and related approaches, such as those advocated by EcoSchools, are becoming more popular, there is a lack of understanding of their underlying principles and the different manifestations in diverging socio-cultural contexts at different educational levels. This collection of chapters provides a deeper understanding of the WSA, while also addressing its effectiveness, possibilities for upscaling, professional development needs for WSA practitioners, interlinkages with more conventional curriculum requirements, expectations of students and parents, and more.

This is an open access book.


Table of contents (24 chapters)

  1. Principles, Perspectives, and Challenges

Editors and Affiliations

  • Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands

    Arjen E.J. Wals

  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway

    Birgitte Bjønness, Astrid Sinnes, Ingrid Eikeland

About the editors

Arjen Wals is a Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University where he also holds the UNESCO Chair of Social Learning and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, he is a Guest Professor at the Norwegian University for the Life Sciences (NMBU). He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Gothenburg University in Sweden. 

Birgitte Bjønness is an associate professor in science education at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Her research interests include sustainability education, health and wellbeing in schools, inquiry-based learning, and action research in education.

Astrid Sinnes is a professor in science education and vice rector for sustainability at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Her expertise is on sustainability transitions in education.

Ingrid Eikeland holds a Ph.D. in science centre education based on the dissemination of controversies. The last four years she has managed the university–school partnership at the Norwegian University of Life Science. 


Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Whole School Approaches to Sustainability

  • Book Subtitle: Education Renewal in Times of Distress

  • Editors: Arjen E.J. Wals, Birgitte Bjønness, Astrid Sinnes, Ingrid Eikeland

  • Series Title: Sustainable Development Goals Series

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Education, Education (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2024

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-56171-9Published: 23 June 2024

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-56174-0Due: 24 July 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-56172-6Published: 22 June 2024

  • Series ISSN: 2523-3084

  • Series E-ISSN: 2523-3092

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIX, 332

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 23 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Education, general, Sustainable Development, Climate, general

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