Hope and fear in education for sustainable development

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Hope and fear in education for sustainable development

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Hope and fear in education for sustainable development
Author(s) Dahlbeck, Johan
Date 2013
English abstract
The focus of this paper is on enquiring after the functions and the effects of hope and fear in teaching materials produced for and used within the discourse of education for sustainable development in Sweden. Drawing on the ethical writings of Seneca, Spinoza and Nietzsche, I aim to investigate hope and fear as tools for governing the behavior of students in a contemporary setting. Understanding hope and fear, not as opposites, but as mutually constitutive and as interdependent emotions directed at past and future events, I look into some of the philosophical problems with attempting to gain control over external things rather than striving to control the evaluations and responses to these. I focus especially on understanding education for sustainable development as conditioned by possible rewards and punishments, making it genealogically linked to organised, sectarian religion in that the hopes and fears of people are being manipulated for the purpose of governing the way they live their everyday lives. The Swedish examples looked at in this paper are part of a global trend of strengthening the work with sustainable development in schools and preschools, making them of interest not only locally but on an international level as well. Method: Looking at a selection of discursive statements such as teaching materials, national and international documents referred to within these teaching materials and related projects such as peace education and cosmopolitan education, this paper is based on a form of discourse analysis looking to identify some notable genealogical continuities and discontinuities. I approach these statements in terms of what Agamben labels 'paradigmatic examples' as they serve to reveal some of the conditions of the discourse, indicating the rules and conceptual boundaries of the discourse of education for sustainable development. It also presents a brief review of some of the key texts of Seneca, Spinoza and Nietzsche with regards to the functions and effects of hope and fear as passive affects and tools for governing people's lives. Expected Outcomes: As the notion of sustainable development is directed at anticipating and predicting future events I conclude that the functions of hope and fear in the examples looked at can be somewhat paradoxically understood to be hindering action on the part of the student as focus is placed on controlling external events that may be claimed to be beyond the control of the individual. This risks leading to the construction of a docile rather than an active student, which is contrary to the aspirations expressed within the discourse of education for sustainable development. References: Dahlbeck, J. & De Lucia Dahlbeck, M. (2012). "'Needle and Stick' Save the World: Sustainable Development and the Universal Child", Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 33(2), pp. 267-281. De Lucia Dahlbeck, M. & Dahlbeck, J. (2011). "Evaluating Life: Working With Ethical Dilemmas in Education for Sustainable Development", Law, Culture and the Humanities, Available as early-view online. Nietzsche, F. (1996). Human, All Too Human. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Seneca (1969). Letters from a Stoic. London: Penguin Classics. Spinoza, B. (1996). Ethics. London: Penguin Classics. Spinoza, B. (2007). Theological–Political Treatise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Link http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/8/contribution/21083/ (external link to publication)
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Hope
Education for sustainable development
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Note ECER: Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research. 10-13 September, 2013, Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/15960 (link to this page)
Link http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer2013/ (external link to related web page)

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