Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 931–941 | Cite as

Building new foundations: the future of education from a degrowth perspective

  • Nadine KaufmannEmail author
  • Christoph Sanders
  • Julian Wortmann
Special Feature: Original Article The politics of making and un-making (sustainable) futures
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: The politics of making and un-making (sustainable) futures


Considering education in the context of making and unmaking sustainable futures, a growing relevance is attributed to the role of shared beliefs or mental infrastructures which shape the way people perceive crises and solutions. The currently dominant capitalist economic paradigm is seen as one such powerful belief that generates imaginaries which cannot accommodate sustainable futures. At the same time, in educational practice, social movements, and academic discussion, the perspective of degrowth has gained attention as an approach which challenges this paradigm. In this article, we address the role of education in processes of socioecological transformation in the context of degrowth. We do this from a perspective of practice, linking our experiences in non-formal education to academic discussions on education and sustainability. The aim of this article is to contribute to a pedagogy of degrowth as one path within a complex search for ways to imagine and support sustainable futures, which address root causes of the current crises. Analysing these crises as crises of conviviality, resulting from imperial modes of living and producing, we sketch the framework for sustainable futures marked by world relations of interconnectedness and solidarity. Relating a theory of transformative learning to a critical-emancipatory understanding of education, we propose two interlinked aspects for pedagogy of degrowth: creating spaces for reflection and emphasizing the political in educational settings. We discuss our practical experience as learning facilitators in non-formal educational contexts. As a cross-cutting challenge, we will touch upon the role of strengthening psychological resources in education for a degrowth society.


Economic paradigm Imperial modes of living Transformative learning Reflective learning processes Politicization of education Psychological resources 



  1. Amsler S, Facer K (2017) Contesting anticipatory regimes in education: exploring alternative educational orientations to the future. Futures 94:6–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andreotti V (2012) Editor’s Preface “HEADS UP”. Crit Lit Theories Pract 6:1–3Google Scholar
  3. Andreotti V et al (2018) Mobilising different conversations about global justice in education: toward alternative futures in uncertain times. Policy Pract 26:9–41Google Scholar
  4. Arendt H (1958) The human condition. University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  5. Biesecker A, von Winterfeld U (2014) All inclusive?—Vorsorgendes Wirtschaften und neue Gesellschaftsverträge. In: Elsen S (ed) Social innovation, participation and the development of society. Bozen University Press, Bozen, pp 211–229Google Scholar
  6. Brand U (2005) Gegen-Hegemonie. Perspektiven globalisierungskritischer Strategien. VSA, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  7. Brand U (2014) Kapitalistisches Wachstum und soziale Herrschaft – Motive. Argumente und Schwächen aktueller Wachstumskritik. Prokla 44(175):289–306Google Scholar
  8. Brand U, Wissen M (2017) Imperiale Lebensweise. Zur Ausbeutung von Mensch und Natur in Zeiten des globalen Kapitalismus. Oekom, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  9. Brookfield SD (2000) Transformative learning as ideology critique. In: Mezirow J (ed) Learning as transformation: critical perspectives on a theory in progress. Jossey Bass, San Francisco, pp 125–148Google Scholar
  10. Brown W (2015) Undoing the Demos. Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Zone Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. D’Alisa G, Demaria F, Kallis G (eds) (2015) Degrowth—a new vocabulary for a new era. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Deriu M (2016) Konvivialität. In: D’Alisa G et al (eds) Degrowth. Handbuch für eine neue Ära. Oekom, München, pp 157–161Google Scholar
  13. Descola P (2011) Jenseits von Kultur und Natur. Suhrkamp, FrankfurtGoogle Scholar
  14. Eis A et al (2015) Frankfurt Declaration—for a critical-emancipatory Political Education. Accessed 24 Aug 2018
  15. Getzin S, Singer-Brodowski M (2016) Transformatives Lernen in einer Degrowth-Gesellschaft. Socience 1:33–46Google Scholar
  16. Göpel M (2016) The great mind-shift. How a new economic paradigm and sustainability transformation go hand in hand. Springer, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  17. Graupe S (2013) Die Macht ökonomischer Bildung. In: Frost U, Rieger-Ladich M (eds) Demokratie setzt aus. Gegen die sanfte Liquidation einer politischen Lebensform. Vierteljahresschrift zur wissenschaftlichen Pädagogik, Sonderheft, pp 85–112Google Scholar
  18. Graupe S (2016) Wirtschaftswachstum und Bildungswiderstand. In: Sánchez de Murillo J (ed) Facetten des Wachstums. Aufgang–Jahrbuch für Denken, Dichten, Kunst 13, pp 70–95Google Scholar
  19. Graupe S (2017) Beeinflussung und Manipulation in der ökonomischen Bildung. Hintergründe und Beispiele. FGW-Impuls Neues ökonomisches Denken 05, FGW, DüsseldorfGoogle Scholar
  20. Håkansson DO, Östman L (2018) The political dimension in ESE: the construction of a political moment model for analyzing bodily anchored political emotions in teaching and learning of the political dimension. Environ Educ Res. Google Scholar
  21. Håkansson DO, Kronlid O, Östman L (2017) Searching for the political dimension in education for sustainable development: socially critical, social learning and radical democratic approaches. Environ Educ Res. Google Scholar
  22. Harmin M, Barrett MJ, Hoessler C (2016) Stretching the boundaries of transformative sustainability learning: on the importance of decolonizing ways of knowing and relations with the more-than-human. Environ Educ Res 23:1489–1500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huckle J, Wals A (2015) The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: business as usual in the end. Environ Educ Res 21:491–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hunecke M (2013) Psychologie der Nachhaltigkeit. Psychische Ressourcen für Postwachstumsgesellschaften. Oekom, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  25. Illich I (1998) Selbstbegrenzung. Eine politische Kritik der Technik. C.H Beck, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  26. Jackson T (2017) Prosperity without growth. Foundatios for the economy of tomorrow, 2nd edn. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Jickling B (1992) Why I don’t want my children to be educated for sustainable development. J Environ Educ 23:5–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kollektiv ILA (ed) (2019) Das Gute Leben für Alle. Wege in eine solidarische Lebensweise. Oekom, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  29. Koller HC (2010) Grundzüge einer Theorie transformatorischer Bildungsprozesse. In: Liesner A, Lohmann I (eds) Gesellschaftliche Bedingungen von Bildung und Erziehung. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart, pp 288–300Google Scholar
  30. Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie (ed) (2017) Degrowth in Bewegung(en)— 32 alternative Wege zu einer sozial-ökologischen Transformation. Oekom, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  31. Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, FairBidung (2014) Beyond Growth. Leipzig/Berlin. Accessed 24 Aug 2018
  32. Kopatz M (2017) Ökoroutine. Damit wir tun, was wir für richtig halten. Oekom, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  33. Mezirow J (1990) How critical reflection triggers transformative learning. In: Mezirow J (ed) Fostering critical reflection in adulthood. A guide to transformative and emancipatory learning. Jossey Bass, San Francisco, pp 1–20Google Scholar
  34. Mezirow J (1997) Transformative Erwachsenenbildung. Baltmannsweiler Schneider, HohengehrenGoogle Scholar
  35. Muraca B (2007) Getting over ‘nature: modern bifurcations, postmodern possibilities. In: Kearns L, Keller C (eds) Ecospirit: religions and philosophies for the earth. Fordham University Press, New York, pp 156–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Narberhaus M (2016) Gesellschaftlicher Wandel als Lernprozess. Zeitschrift für internationale Bildungsforschung und Entwicklungspädagogik 39(1):23–26Google Scholar
  37. O’Sullivan E, Morrell A, O’Connor A (eds) (2002) Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning. Essays on theory and praxis. Palgrave, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Peukert H (2015) Bildung in gesellschaftlicher Transformation. Ferdinand Schöningh, PaderbornGoogle Scholar
  39. Plumwood V (2002) Environmental culture: the ecological crisis of reason. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  40. Prádanos LI (2016) The pedagogy of degrowth. Teaching Hispanic studies in the age of social inequality and ecological collapse. Arizona J Hispanic Cult Stud 19:153–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Prádanos LI (2018) Postgrowth Imaginaries: new ecologies and counterhegemonic culture in post-2008 Spain (Contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures, Band 19). Liverpool University Press, LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  42. Sanders C (2016) Mentale infrastrukturen revisited—analyse der Wachstumskultur. Politische Ökologie 146:132–135Google Scholar
  43. Schmelzer M, Vetter A (2019) Degrowth/Postwachstum zur Einführung. Junius, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  44. Scott W, Gough S (2010) Sustainability, learning and capability—exploring questions of balance. Sustainability 2:3735–3746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Selby D, Kagawa F (2010) Runaway climate change as challenge to the ‘closing circle’ of education for sustainable development. J Educ Sustain Dev 4(1):37–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sterling S (2010) Learning for resilience, or the resilient learner? Environ Educ Res 16:511–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tomasello M (2010) Warum wir kooperieren. Suhrkamp, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  48. UNESCO (2014) Roadmap for implementing the global action programme on education for sustainable development. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, ParisGoogle Scholar
  49. Vare P, Scott W (2007) Learning for a change: exploring the relationship between education and sustainable development. J Educ Sustain Dev 1:191–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. WBGU (2011) Welt im Wandel. Gesellschaftsvertrag für eine Große Transformation. WBGU, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  51. Welzer H (2011) Mentale Infrastrukturen. Schriften zur Ökologie 14. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  52. Wright EO (2010) Envisioning real utopias. Verso, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie e.VLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations