Young People's "Sustainability Consciousness" Effects of ESD Implementation in Swedish Schools
Sammanfattning: The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development is approaching its end and it is important to investigate the effects of the efforts to implement education for sustainable development (ESD) nationally, before decisions on forthcoming efforts are made. There are few investigations of the effect of ESD implementation that take a broad approach. In order to measure the educational effects of ESD implementation broadly and inclusively, I introduce the concept of sustainability consciousness (SC), which will be operationalized into the research through a Likert scale questionnaire. This licentiate thesis contributes new knowledge on the implementation of ESD in the Swedish school system as reflected in young people’s SC. Two studies have been conducted. In the first study, I investigated the effects of ESD implementation by a comparison of SC between students in schools with an explicit ESD approach and control schools without an explicit approach. In the second study, I investigated whether the perceptual dip among adolescents found in the field of environmental education was also present in the economic and social dimensions of their SC in addition to the environmental one. The total sample included 2 413 students in 6th, 9th and 12th grades of the Swedish schools system. Results of the two studies indicate that the implementation of ESD in the Swedish compulsory school system does not seem to have been particularly successful as there are only small positive effects of an explicit ESD approach in 6th grade and even a small negative effect of an explicit ESD approach in the 9th grade. Furthermore, the dip in adolescent 9th graders’ SC is confirmed. This indicates that different age groups tackle the effects of the prevailing traditional sustainability teaching in different ways, which suggests that ESD in schools need to be adapted to different levels.
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