Special issue of IRE explores how adult education contributes to the development of sustainable societies
For more than two decades, the issue of sustainability has been part of international development discourse. With the adoption by the United Nations of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, sustainability became one of the most important factors in that discourse. Yet, as a concept sustainability remains amorphous. Do sustainable societies and economies already exist? And, if not, how can they be developed?
The guest editors of this special issue of IRE argue that while ‘sustainability’ as a core value already permeates public and private policy and practice, the recent global economic crisis revealed the fragility of these policies. They consider ways to place the concept of sustainability on a more secure footing. In particular, they consider the role that adult education and lifelong learning systems can play in helping to build more robustly sustainable societies.
The six articles presented in this special issue show that adult education has already contributed to societal sustainability, but could contribute much more in the future, provided it is not subjugated to economic rationales and ideologies.
This special issue was inspired by the Second Conference of the Network on Policy Studies in Adult Education (active under the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults, ESREA), held in Aalborg, Denmark, on 18–20 June 2014. The theme of the conference was ‘Interrogating Sustainability in Adult Learning Policy’, which had challenged participants to examine the place of adult education in sustainability.