Between green consumerism and civic action – A case study of the solutions to environmental problems brought up in Swedish upper secondary education
Sammanfattning: Education is considered to be one of the most important tools for enabling the transition to a sustainable society, and it is commonly agreed that education for sustainable development (ESD) should be pluralistic, democratic and promote critical thinking. However, there are indications that education might be dominated by green consumerist approaches to solving environmental problems. If this is the case, it is highly problematic, since research has shown that green consumerism is not a reliable way to create a sustainable society. Some argue that a better way forward would be for people to engage for the environment in their role as citizens, rather than as consumers. This thesis investigates the prevalence of these two approaches in teaching and among students in Swedish upper secondary education through a case study of a class in Malmö, also looking into the feelings that the students have towards environmental problems. The theoretical framework includes literature on myths about sustainable consumption, the privatisation of responsibility, and emotions towards environmental problems. The findings indicate that the green consumerist perspective is dominant, but also that the teachers are aware of the problematic aspects of it, and that students do acknowledge the importance of civic engagement when the topic is brought up. Findings regarding the students' emotions are somewhat ambiguous. In conclusion, there seems to be a need for further highlighting the possibility of civic engagement in schools.
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