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Opening up the black box of learning-by-doing in sustainability transitions

Written by Katrien Van Poeck, Thomas Block, Leif Östman.
Related to Sustainability Education, SEDwise.

In the face of persistent socio-ecological problems that prove hard to tackle with existing routines, the transition towards a more sustainable world is often described as a matter of ‘learning by doing’. Despite omnipresent appeals to ‘learning’ in sustainability transition studies, an exploratory review of literature shows that there is a lack of conceptual clarity on the topic. Furthermore, empirical research on learning in transition initiatives is rare. This article presents an analytical framework that facilitates theoretical and empirical research on learning in sustainability transitions. Pragmatist educational scholarship, in particular Dewey’s transactional perspective, provides useful inspiration for analytical tools that allow to open-up the black box of learning in sustainability transitions. Focusing on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional and material factors that influence learning and on how the mechanism of ‘privileging’ steers learning outcomes, this framework allows to investigate whether and, if so, how learning actually takes place in transition initiatives.

Full reference

Van Poeck, K., Östman, L. & Block, T. (2018). Opening up the black box of learning-by-doing in sustainability transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, (open access)

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