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Bang, Julie Rose, 2015. Trajectories to a sustainable future : environmental education form a critical perspective. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Climate change is one of the most significant current threats to civilisation and nature and
accordingly a vast number of approaches towards its prevention are undertaken around the world.
While some of these approaches are attempts at technical solutions, numerous agencies and
experts argue that behavioural change is needed in order to achieve any significant and long-term
results. Such adjustment require individual behavioural change in the young generations of today.
Inducing behavioural changes on individuals, by education or otherwise, is, however, extremely
difficult, if at all possible. With inspiration in the early Frankfurter School philosophers Adorno
and Horkheimer and their work Dialectic of Enlightenment, this thesis tackles the question of what
type of educational approaches that can be taken to truly offer a chance of having a real change
effect. While it is important to educate the young generations in the science behind climate
change, it is argued that in order to change their actual behaviour, the education must relate the
effects of climate change to their everyday life and that the discourse of individual responsibility
should be avoided. Current educational attempts are exemplified by the 2009 established Climate
Embassy of the Danish green think tank CONCITO, which trains young so-called Climate
Ambassadors to give lectures on climate change at Danish public schools and high schools.
Although the lectures given, importantly, make the students understand the consequences of
people’s current behaviour and make them understand that this behaviour is wrong, the education
might not yield actual behavioural change. It is argued that one of the reasons for this is that the
approach of The Climate Embassy, and generally of many such organizations, work within the
rationality that the problems should be fixed within the current understanding of the structure of
society: capitalism, population of consumers, et cetera. Although a final solution to this very
complex problem is not reached, the idea is presented that instead of lecturing on and discussing
the restrictions that people must impose upon themselves within the current society, the focus
should be kept on discussing what type of values in an ideal world, utopia, that the students would
like to live in under the considerations of climate change. As proposed in this thesis such
discussions should emerge from a critique of the contradictions, which the students find in their
reality between every day life and societal structures surrounding them. Taking this set out can
lead to entirely new ideas and the approach might make the students not see the imposed
suggestions as restrictions where stepping outside these cause guilt feeling, but goals that would
actually lead to a more favourable life.

Main title:Trajectories to a sustainable future
Subtitle:environmental education form a critical perspective
Authors:Bang, Julie Rose
Supervisor:Hansen, Hans Peter and Klint Jensen, Karsten
Examiner:Alarcón Ferrari, Cristián and Hallgren, Lars
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2015
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM025 EnvEuro - European Master in Environmental Science 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:climate change, sustainability, education, critical theory, societal change
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Energy resources management
Social sciences, humanities and education
Deposited On:13 Jul 2015 09:17
Metadata Last Modified:13 Jul 2015 09:18

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