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ERIC Number: EJ1094087
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-0095-8964
Reviewing Strategies in/for ESD Policy Engagement: Agency Reclaimed
Lotz-Sisitka, Heila
Journal of Environmental Education, v47 n2 p91-103 2016
In this response article, I draw on critical realist perspectives to engage with the argument put forward in Bengtsson's study, which sees agency as an ontological necessity for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) policy engagement. Bengtsson supports a notion of the logic of contingent action over the logic of power as dominance, suggesting possibilities for agency and resistance. Although I do not in principle disagree with the agentive possibilities embedded in this aspect of the Bengtsson argument, it is the scope of the conceptualization thereof that I consider in this response. I start with considering the limitations of a Westphalian analysis of policy appropriations and agency for ESD, and argue that the Westphalian frame for policy analysis may be inadequate for capturing the significance of non-state actors and wider generative mechanisms such as informal normative structures, and private, economic power in the global political economy. Drawing on Fraser's (2008) concept of the transnational public sphere, I explore other potential possibilities for agency-centered appropriations or negations of, and/or resistance to ESD policy discourses, potentially expanding the agency-centered perspective referred to in Bengtsson's analysis and critique of policy making for ESD, or, at the very least, by offering a wider view of possibility for what he refers to as the "ineradicable moment of conflict, or antagonism." In particular, I broaden the notion of the transnational public sphere to be inclusive of Dussel's (1998) three concerns of transformation, namely; poverty and wealth inequality, environmental degradation, and narrow rationalities involving ongoing colonization of people, territories and resources. In doing this, I concur with Fraser, who suggests that the concept of the public sphere may well be "so thoroughly Westphalian in its deep conceptual structure as to be unsalvageable as a critical tool for theorizing the present" and suggest that public sphere thinking and associated conceptions of agency require expansion, which I offer from postcolonial and decolonization literature, critical realism, ontological experiences, and reflection on Environmental Education (EE) /ESD policy in the southern African region. Ultimately, I propose need for a more radical framework for EE/ ESD policy research that reaches beyond analyses of appropriations of policy within the Wesphalian state framework, and that moves beyond critiquing or seeking out resistance moments associated with the assumptions of trickle down effects from UN level policy, or analysis that is centered on the EE versus ESD debate. Such a framework requires a revitalized notion of agency involving commitment to collective, relational (including the socio-materially relational) and transgressive forms of agency for deep societal transformations all round. Overall, it seems that environmental education policy and praxis research conceptualized within a decolonizing transnational sphere frame appears to still be an open and as yet under-explored terrain.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa