Since the 1980s the United Nations has called for a sustainable development, responding to the challenges of ecological crisis, global warming, and continuous social inequity. Within the sustainable development agenda environmental ethical values are addressed, formulated as concerns for human beings in the present and the future, and for the more-than-human world. These values are also central in UNESCO’s initiative of education for sustainable development.
This chapter is an empirical study based on observations of a class of tenth grade Norwegian students who are exposed to the challenge of sustainable development in moral education. I examine how the environmental ethical values formulated by UNESCO are recontextualized in the classroom. The analyses are informed by critical cosmopolitanism, with a sensitivity for the situatedness of the students in a web of relations.
In the particular lesson in which sustainability is addressed, carbon footprint plays a significant role, drawing attention to the students’ consumption patterns. In this way the issue becomes individualized and depoliticized, reflecting central tenets in neoliberalism. National concerns seem to add to this impact of hegemony.
Informed by a retrospect group interview, the article demonstrates the potential of bringing in the students’ web of relations in moral education, addressing both their global and local embeddedness. An educational practice is suggested, in which the environmental ethical values are disclosed and explored, involving the students’ situatedness, and mediating between the ethical and the political.