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Research Article Open Access

The Feel-Good Story of the Decade


In the last twenty years, the term “sustainable development” has influenced ecological thought, consumption habits and structural practices in profound ways. As a fluid discourse al-lowing appropriation and contestation, it may mean anything from technological innovations preserving consumerist status quos, to deep changes in social and political structures. Against a background of imminent environmental crisis, the United Nations’ declaration of a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development legitimates the broad concept of sustainability; an as-semblage of grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organiza-tions have taken up the challenge to draw the world’s youth into the discourse. What “sustaina-bility” are they advancing, via what media and messages? What may be in the offing when the critical edge of the sustainability discourse precipitates turns to the participatory, the localized, the “green”? A measured critical response to the Education for Sustainable Development move-ment is called for. In this essay I will sketch out some of the questions a potential response might pose.

Michael H. Koch

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