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Southern African Journal of Environmental Education

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Editorial: Understanding Collective Learning and Human Agency in Diverse Social, Cultural and Material Settings

Lausanne Olvitt, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Jeppe Læssøe, Nanna Jordt Jørgensen

Abstract


The significance of environment and sustainability education research and practice, and its potential contribution to a sustainable future for humanity, is conveyed by the International Social Science Council (n.d.), which explains:

People everywhere will need to learn how to create new forms of human activity and new social systems that are more sustainable and socially just. However, we have limited knowledge about the type of learning that creates such change, how such learning emerges, or how it can be scaled-up to create transformations at many levels.

Here, the important shift is towards considering what social systems, forms of knowledge, learning processes and questions of justice are associated with perpetuating or halting the decline of Earth’s bio-geo-chemical systems. This edition of the Southern African Journal of Environmental Education contributes three research papers and a themed Think Piece collection to these international deliberations about the role of education in enabling transformations to sustainability. Collectively, the articles highlight how relationality and the formation of human agency in socio-cultural and material settings in past–present–future configurations underpin all environment-oriented learning processes. The three research papers constituting the first part of this volume offer glimpses into how current unsustainable socio-cultural and material configurations might be transformed to address social inequalities and damaged people–nature relations. The Think Piece collection, introduced by Lotz-Sisitka, Læssøe and Jørgensen later in this editorial, focuses on how learning can foster and contribute to the development of change agents and collective agency for climate-resilient development.






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