How can Education for Sustainability create systemic change

This chapter reports on an inquiry that investigated the current impact and how to increase the impact of an active citizenship education program that contains key elements of education for sustainability: imagining a better future, systemic thinking, critical thinking and reflection, participation in decision-making, and working in partnerships. While it is argued in the literature that education for sustainability programs that contain these elements will be transformational for participants and that graduates from these programs will be able to influence systemic change, the study found that graduates could not influence systemic change. To increase the program's impact a model for creating the conditions for systemic community change was developed. This model focuses on building the adaptive capacity of communities and is informed by complex systems leadership, public administration and soft power theories. To determine how to increase the systemic impact of the active citizenship program, the program was analysed through the lens of this model. The chapter argues that while education for sustainability programs cannot in isolation create systemic change, education for sustainability programs have an important role to play as one component in an ecosystem of initiatives for creating systemic change.

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