Educational Research and Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Educ. Res. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1990-3839
  • DOI: 10.5897/ERR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 1960


How the concept of agency aids in teaching about sustainability

Athena Vongalis-Macrow
Faculty of Arts and Education, School of Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 28 May 2013
  •  Published: 23 September 2013



Sustainability education is becoming an integral part of education for all students.The paper revisits startling results from large scale international studies that show the dissonance between young people’s sustainability knowledge and the resistance of young people to put into practice. The reluctance to enact sustainability knowledge necessitates a review of current teaching practices as these raise important issues about current models of education and how sustainability is captured within education. Education about sustainability seeks to future proof our society through the teaching and learning of actions that ensure our collective long term future. For this reason teaching about sustainability incorporates a focus on social responsibility as well as individual responsibility. This paper examines the notion of agency as a critical component in the understanding of how behavior and actions are organized and integrated by students. Agency theory is highly sensitized towards these learner demands as it provides educators with ways to appraise and make judgment upon content as well as guiding learner’s actions. By developing a more refined understanding of agency, and incorporating this into educational practice around sustainability, it may be possible to develop more resonant sustainable actions through education.


Key words: Agency, pedagogy, sustainability, education