Southern African Journal of Environmental Education

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Elements of Social Learning Supporting Transformative Change

David Lindley


The body of literature on social learning is enormous, with differently framed ontologies and epistemologies aligned to multiple perspectives of learning in a social context. These have grown out of the many academic disciplines which have seen the value of social learning. This paper highlights the need to be aware of these multiple perspectives, and draws on the work of Lotz-Sisitka, Mukute and Belay (2012) to argue that there is a need to understand, and engage deeply with, the antecedent perspectives on social learning and to avoid ontological collapse in social-learning research in environmental education research and practice. It provides a broad-based understanding of transformative social learning by simply defining social learning with a socially critical orientation, and distilling key elements of social learning important to supporting social change. A recommendation is made for interventionist researchers and practitioners to use a theoretically sound, ontologically congruent methodology to support their social-learning research and implementation.

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