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Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1645-1660; doi:10.3390/su5041645
Article

Locative Meaning-making: An Arts-based Approach to Learning for Sustainable Development

1,*  and 2
1 Research in Art, Nature and Environment (RANE), Falmouth University, Woodlane, Falmouth TR11 4RH Cornwall, UK 2 Education and Competence Studies Group (ECS), Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, Wageningen 6706 KN, The Netherlands
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 February 2013 / Revised: 26 March 2013 / Accepted: 9 April 2013 / Published: 18 April 2013
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Abstract

The term sustainable development is often criticized for having lost credibility due to a lack of clear-cut delineation. The same holds true for education designed to foster sustainable development often referred to as education for sustainable development (ESD). This contribution agrees that the term suffers from a want of meaning, but argues that the persistent hunt for a definition—i.e., a fixed generic description—produces rather than resolves this deficit. What sustainable development means is context and time dependent and is therefore necessarily ambiguous, open-ended and dynamic. Hence, the success of ESD depends on the paradoxical imperative of reducing vagueness while at the same time maintaining ambiguity. This paper explores how this can be established and proposes a process informed by the arts.  Drawing from dialogic practices, site-specific theatre and a project conducted in a British village, this writing discusses elements that constitute a process of “context-based meaning finding”. It concludes that ESD essentially starts with and revolves around re-embedding SD in life and the act of living, engaging people in place through processes in which communities yield their own, context and time specific interpretations of sustainable development.
Keywords: sustainable development; education for sustainable development; UN DESD situational learning; contextual practices; site-specific performance; community sustainable development; education for sustainable development; UN DESD situational learning; contextual practices; site-specific performance; community
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Eernstman, N.; Wals, A.E. Locative Meaning-making: An Arts-based Approach to Learning for Sustainable Development. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1645-1660.

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