Knowledge, learning and societal change for sustainibilty

Blackmore, Chris (2013). Knowledge, learning and societal change for sustainibilty. In: Freedman, Bill and Rogers, Deborah S. eds. Global Environmental Change. Handbook of Global Environmental Pollution (1). Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 951–958.




What are the roles of knowledge, learning and societal change in making transitions to sustainability, and how are these concepts related? The viewpoint that individuals, groups, and potentially societies, can learn their way to sustainability is explored here. Knowing and learning about sustainability do not necessarily lead to action even if it is desired, because individuals’ and groups’ abilities to act are often constrained by other societal factors. Yet some kinds of learning do appear to be more likely to lead to multi-stakeholder, multi-level changes than others. In recent years, researchers have come to understand how learning for sustainability might be enhanced, with a particular focus on the kinds of social learning that lead to collective and concerted action. Much remains to be understood about how this kind of learning might affect the societal level. There are many different kinds of knowing and learning, and it is important to be able to recognise them and their roles to be able to understand what is most relevant in a particular situation.

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