In this briefing, Stephen Sterling points out that: progress towards a more sustainable future depends on learning, yet most education and learning takes no account of sustainability; progress toward orienting education towards sustainable development since the Agenda 21 agreement has been very slow; and education is largely behind, rather than ahead of, other fields in developing new thinking and practice in response to the challenge of sustainability. Sterling argues that while the emergence of environmental education, and latterly "education for sustainable development", are important trends, they are not sufficient in themselves to reorient and transform education - and yet time is short to realize such change. The fundamental tasks are to critique the prevailing educational and learning paradigm, which has become increasingly mechanistic and managerial, and to develop an ecologically informed education paradigm based on humanistic and sustainability values, systems thinking and the implications of complexity theory. An outline, with illustrative examples, of a transformed education that can lead to transformative learning is given. The author calls this "sustainable education": a change of educational culture that values, sustains and realizes human potential in relation to the need to attain and sustain social, economic and ecological well-being, recognizing that they must be part of the same dynamic. The book finishes with a chapter on change strategies, emphasizing the need for vision and design at all system levels.
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