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Transforming education in an era of climate change. From economic growth to degrowth discourses and cases of eco-logical practices in education.



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Kliampa, Anna 


This research explores socio-ecological transitions in education that seek to problematise mainstream ‘growthmanship’, or, put simply, economic growth policy discourse in education. Building on a growing literature stemming mainly from ecological economists, as well as social and climate scientists on the pressures posed on social and ecological systems by the unbridled expansion of the economic sphere, I examine the role of education policy, programmes and initiatives in this narrative and its capacity to respond effectively to these challenges. In this respect, I ask whether/how education is positioned within a) economic growth and b) climate change discourses.

To explore these questions, the research draws theoretically from a critical Foucauldian discourse analysis framework. In doing so, it historicises economic growth, sustainable development and education discourses and their contingent relations. Moreover, the thesis is informed theoretically by critical socio-economic theories of sustainability, like degrowth and other socio-ecological perspectives, which are considered resisting voices to mainstream economic growth models. Having as a starting point these power relations, the thesis draws attention to the complex (dis)continuities of these discourses and their implications for education within a climate change framework through an analysis of education policies and programmes at multiple scales; global, national and local.

Voicing innovative, alternative, and creative ways of making the education sector more sustainable, the thesis emphasises educators’ pedagogic practices at the analysis level. In this respect, my analysis reveals the contradictory character of environmental education where questions of natural space, materiality, and social context, weave its fundamental components. The degrowth and post-humanities theoretical frameworks at the analysis level expose the conflict-driven character of this topic, but also its potential to generate spontaneous, creative, pro-social and pro-environmental responses to modern problems through the field of education.

It has been the primary objective of this research to find ways to tackle the current socio- environmental issues through education. In order to achieve this, it is crucial to understand the interrelated nature of sustainability politics. We must continue to examine these issues by expressing diverse perspectives and analyzing their power dynamics.





Robertson, Susan


climate change education, degrowth, Education for sustainability, Foucauldian discourses analysis, multiple case-study research, post-humanities


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
ESRC (2099746)