Special issue of IRE features case studies of non-formal and community learning for sustainable development

20 December 2017

This special issue on non-formal and community learning for sustainable development presents and analyses a wide range of non-formal Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) practices from different parts of the world (Western Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and Southern Africa). It should be noted that the distinction between formal and non-formal learning is at times artificial and can be critiqued from a sustainability perspective which tends to call for boundary-crossing and making connections rather than distinctions. It is with this in mind that the contributions to this compilation should be read. Some of them are more descriptive and “critically reflexive”, while others are grounded in empirical research, or both.

The first three articles cover cases of the implementation ESD in cities from developed countries – two from Germany and one from Japan. These are followed by three case studies on learning in community sustainability initiatives addressing specific challenges – youth participation in a sustainability project in Colombia; the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance ecological literacy in Chile; and sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in southern African countries. The seventh article focuses on learning in the network of the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL).


Critical case-studies of non-formal and community learning for sustainable development

by Arjen E.J. Wals, Yoko Mochizuki and Alexander Leicht


  1. How education for sustainable development is implemented in Germany: Looking through the lens of educational governance theory?

by Inka Bormann and Jutta Nikel

  1. Mapping a sustainable future: Community learning in dialogue at the science–society interface

by Matthias Barth, Daniel J. Lang, Philip Luthardt and Ulli Vilsmaier

  1. Social learning as a key factor in sustainability transitions: The case of Okayama City

by Robert J. Didham, Paul Ofei-Manu and Masaaki Nagareo

  1. The difference biocultural “place” makes to community efforts towards sustainable development: Youth participatory action research in a marine protected area of Colombia

by Jennifer McRuer and Margarita Zethelius

  1. Promoting community socio-ecological sustainability through technology: A case study from Chile

by Claudio Aguayo and Chris Eames

  1. Transgressing the norm: Transformative agency in community-based learning for sustainability in southern African contexts

by Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Mutizwa Mukute, Charles Chikunda, Aristides Baloi and Tichaona Pesanayi

  1. How transformational learning promotes caring, consultation and creativity, and ultimately contributes to sustainable development: Lessons from the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) network

by Victoria Wyszynski Thoresen

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