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Educating for Sustainability: Curriculum Reform in the Age of Environmental Crisis
1  University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada

Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
Abstract: In the the present global environmental crisis people who contribute most to its causes are not the people who reap most of the resulting harms. The former tend to be well educated and hold positions of power or at least high levels of personal consumption. This points to a failure of education systems and institutions that cannot be ignored in the light of their potential to help and their responsibility to do so. In spite of numerous efforts to render education more conducive to sustainability, the problems are still widespread and time is running short. Extending on previous work, this paper presents the priorities for a curriculum that focuses on sustainability as foremost imperative. To make the case for the important role of education, a survey of determinant factors is presented that contribute to the counterproductive behaviour causing the crisis. The connection to education involves key ideological content of the hidden curricuum. I argue that through this connection education at all levels has contributed to environmental injustice by omission and commission, referring to education in Canada as a case in point. Major ideological culprits include Cornucopianism and anthropocentrism. As those failings involve mostly affective learning outcomes in implicit form, they can only be addressed by a transdisciplinary curriculum that emphasises and explicates values, beliefs, and attitudes toward sustainable living and the restoration of damaged systems. The goal is to prevent the reproduction of counterproductive ideologies by educational means and to help learners around the world to actively change their lives.
Keywords: Education for sustainability, hidden curriculum, affective learning outcomes, ideology, cornucopianism