This paper explores potential tensions in transformative learning and environmental and sustainability education (ESE) between, on the one hand, pluralistic approaches, and, on the other hand, promotion of societal change to address urgent issues. We stipulate that design of ESE inevitably contributes to a bounding of the plurality of facts and values that are acknowledged in a given learning process. Based on a frame analysis of the Swedish Green Flag initiative, we argue that such bounding by design
is a key aspect of how ESE practitioners handle tensions between pluralism and urgency, either consciously or unconsciously. Given its inevitability and importance, we assert that bounding by design is insufficiently theorized in ESE literature, which might partly explain that practitioners perceive pluralistic ideals as challenging. In the empirics, we discern three justifications for bounding by design: (i) certain facts or degree of scientific consensus; (ii) objectives decided by elected bodies; and (iii) decisions taken by student and teacher representatives. We point to the theory of libertarian paternalism and a typology of democratic legitimacy as conceptual tools that can guide further scrutiny of pluralistic ESE and support practitioners in undertaking conscious and transparent bounding by design.
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