– debate on education for sustainability

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"Sustainable Development is more than able" has been made possible by:

Anne Mette De Viser

Cover and drawings:
Per Marquard Otzen

Anders Thomassen and Anne Mette De Viser

Printed by:
Phønix-trykkeriet A/S, Århus, Denmark

Financial support:
The Danish Counsil for Adult Education, via the Danish Tips- and Lottofunds


In June 2002, Eco-Net published discussion booklet in Danish, ”Bæredygtig er mere end dygtig – et debatoplæg om folkeoplysning og uddannelse for bæredygtig udvikling (”Sustainable is more than able – a discussion paper on adult and general education for sustainability”). The booklet contains thirteen contributions on ideas, visions, and experience, the authors of which took part in an e-mail debate on the topic in the autumn of 2001. The present booklet presents extracts of their contributions, including their key points and conclusions concerning adult and general education for sustainability.

The booklet intends to highlight the potentials of adult and general education in terms of promoting a sustainable development in Denmark – and globally. It has been realised in many quarters, among them chapter 36 of Agenda 21, that change towards sustainability has to rest on a broad inclusion of all citizens – and that adult and general education are pivotal areas of intervention. This makes the sustainability project a major challenge for the entire education sector, and Eco-Net wishes to open up a broad discussion and experience sharing on how we are to enable the learning of principles and practices of sustainability in all forms of education and competence building.
Adult and general education for sustainability comprise three main areas of intervention:

  • Integrating sustainability into the subject-matter and the formative aspects of both existing and new educations,
  • Integrating principles of sustainability in pedagogy.
  • Integrating environmental concerns and sustainability into the physical framework and functional operation of education institutions.

This pertains to all forms of formal and non-formal education and competence building – right from compulsory education, tertiary education, universities and in-service training, to evening schools, folk high schools and more non-formal types of adult education.

The Earth Summit on Sustainable Development offers the opportunity of trying to place the realisation of education for sustainability on the international agenda, as more than pretty declarations of intent.

Denmark has a long-standing tradition of democracy and public education, also practiced in compulsory education and via our folk high schools and evening schools. We thus have some potential for launching a community education project on sustainable development. All the same, our results and experience in the field are rather limited.
There might be examples of – and experience in education for sustainability in other countries and cultures that we could learn from. Eco-Net intends to find out, and would therefore like to make contact with international organisations and associations interested in a dialogue, with a view to sharing our ideas and experience regarding adult and general education for sustainability.

Feel free to use the extracts in the present booklet for inspiration and to open up dialogue and debate. A debate on how to grow not just able – but sustainable…

Please contact Eco-Net, if you are interested in interchange and/or co-operation – or just want to know more.

august 2002

Anne Mette de Visser & Lars Myrthu-Nielsen
Project coordinator       Secretarial manager

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