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Special Issue in the making

Building on the work done during the 'Public Pedagogy and Sustainability Challenges' network meeting in Maynooth and the ECER conference symposium in Hamburg in September 2019, we are developing a special issue on this topic for the European Education Research Journal (edited by Katrien Van Poeck and Carl Anders Säfström).

The aim of the special issue is to progress theory development and research on public pedagogy with a focus on sustainability challenges and to address questions such as: How can education play a democratic role in addressing sustainability challenges? What are vital conditions or obstacles to make this possible? What does this imply for designing sustainability education practices? What are the theoretical, methodological and empirical implications of researching sustainability education as public pedagogy? Working with these questions, three important considerations are taken into account: 1) Sustainability challenges are severe and urgently require radical action; 2) Sustainability challenges can often be characterised as ethical and political challenges for which no clear-cut, uncontested solutions exist and 3) Education should not be reduced to an instrument to solve societal problems. The tension between these three assumptions bring about interesting issues for further conceptualising public pedagogy in the context of sustainability challenges. It raises questions as to what constitutes ‘the public’ in the face of sustainability issues, for instance, or what characterises public pedagogy as ‘pedagogy’ – and not, for example, communication or activism. A major challenge is how to relate the key concepts ‘public’, ‘pedagogy’ and ‘sustainability’. The special issue aims to progress the understanding of public pedagogy in the face of sustainability challenges by addressing key research challenges identified in this research network: the need for further conceptual clarification on the relationship between public pedagogy and sustainability issues, the need for empirical research on the topic and the need for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration.


  • Editorial (Katrien Van Poeck, Ghent University and Carl Anders Säfström, Maynooth University)
  • Risking a city that learns. University pedagogy as undefined study work (Jan Masschelein, KU Leuven and Maarten Simons, KU Leuven)
  • ‘There is no PLANet B’: Creating Sustainable Pedagogical Environments in Times of Ecological Crisis (Lovisa Bergdahl, Södertörn University and Elisabet Langmann, Södertörn University)
  • The inherent excess of education (Jonas Lysgaard, Aarhus University, Stefan Bengtsson, Uppsala University and Carl Anders Säfström, Maynooth University)
  • Investigating the relation between education and societal change in the face of sustainability issues: Exploring methodological possibilities and blind spots (Katrien Van Poeck, Ghent University, Leif Östman, Uppsala University, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University and Majella Dempsey, Maynooth University)
  • Repair tables, broken vacuum cleaners and posters: Tactics in navigational practices (Joke Vandenabeele, KU Leuven and Mathias Decuypere, KU Leuven)
  • Environmental social movements as public educators (Danny Wildemeersch, KU Leuven, Jeppe Læssøe, Aarhus University and Michael Håkansson, Stockholm University)
  • The Museum as Public Pedagogy – Aesthetic Experiences in a Transactional Space (Petra Hansson, Oslo University and Johan Öhman, Örebro University)
  • Sport as a public pedagogy practice and catalyst for societal change towards sustainable development: The case of political participation and bildung in a soccer NGO (Erik Andersson, Örebro University)


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