Transformative education: towards a relational, justice-oriented approach to sustainability

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Zack Walsh
  • Jessica Böhme
  • Brooke D. Lavelle
  • Christine Wamsler

Purpose: This paper aims to increase related knowledge across personal, social and ecological dimensions of sustainability and how it can be applied to support transformative learning. Design/methodology/approach: The paper provides a reflexive case study of the design, content and impact of a course on eco-justice that integrates relational learning with an equity and justice lens. The reflexive case study provides a critical, exploratory self-assessment, including interviews, group discussions and surveys with key stakeholders and course participants. Findings: The results show how relational approaches can support transformative learning for sustainability and provide concrete practices, pathways and recommendations for curricula development that other universities/training institutions could follow or learn from. Originality/value: Sustainability research, practice and education generally focuses on structural or systemic factors of transformation (e.g. technology, governance and policy) without due consideration as to how institutions and systems are shaping and shaped by the transformation of personal agency and subjectivity. This presents a vast untapped and under-studied potential for addressing deep leverage points for change by using a relational approach to link personal, societal and ecological transformations for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1587-1606
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 11.12.2020

    Research areas

  • Anti-oppression pedagogy, Contemplative pedagogy, Eco-justice, Relational ontology, Sustainability education, Systems thinking
  • Ecosystems Research