Understanding Environmental Sustainability through Serendipitous Learning and Meta-Learning

By Nancy E. Wright.

Published by The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 1, 2014 $US5.00

Despite ongoing discussions of environmental sustainability, its true complexity and diversity remain elusive. Especially unclear is the concept of environmental sustainability as an ongoing, non-linear, and often untidy process of stops and starts, reversals, and trade-offs, rather than an ultimate goal to be achieved worldwide. This article presents six countries that exemplify these complexities, despite—or perhaps due to—the fact that they are not usually the primary subjects of attention in sustainability dialogues. The selection for these countries results from what educators have identified as "serendipitous learning," in this case, learning based on "snapshot" studies, as well as from what educators have identified as "meta-learning," i.e. learning how and why one learns what one learns. Accordingly, the article presents an exercise that enables learners to discover these countries in the context of sustainability processes, as well as allowing them to reflect on the way in which learners assess potential or actual environmental sustainability in countries that are more prominent in relevant discussions. The aim is to present and promote serendipitous and meta-learning as a means of broadening interpretations and, therefore, bring about a better understanding of environmental sustainability and its complexities.

Keywords: Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Environmental Education, Serendipitous Learning, Meta-Learning

International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 20, Issue 4, November 2014, pp.99-109. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 1, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 691.419KB)).

Prof. Nancy E. Wright

Adjunct Professor, Political Science, Long Island University-Brooklyn, New York, NY, USA