Perhaps the most important issue in our time is how to sustain our planet’s resources, while developing wealth and well-being for a growing population. This monumental task has been defined in the concept of sustainable development (SD). During the last few decades the world communities have agreed upon addressing SD through international treaties. As a response Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been launched as an answer to cope with sustainability. However, empirical studies are a missing link in the discourse around ESD, where decisions and implementation strategies are heavily based on policy recommendations and gut feelings by practitioners. We used data from 2413 students in grades 6, 9, and 12 from 51 schools across Sweden to study the effectiveness of ESD. In line with the current debate on the definition of ESD, we quantified the extent to which teaching can be labeled as holistic and/or pluralistic. Through a series of descriptive analyses and the estimation of structural equation models, our results indicate that ESD can indeed impact on student outcomes in terms of their sustainability consciousness. The results of this study reveal the key role ESD plays in addressing SD, paving the way for a more sustainable future.
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