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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Resilience in learning systems: case studies in university education

Sriskandarajah, Nadarajah; Bawden, Richard; Blackmore, Chris; Tidball, Keith G.; Wals, Arjen E. J.


In this paper, we address the challenge of translating the concept of resilience into effective educational strategies. Three different cognitive dimensions (ontological, epistemological and axiological) that underpin assumptions held about the nature of nature, the nature of knowing and the nature of human nature are identified. Four case studies from higher education in the USA, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK are presented, which illustrate how learners can be encouraged to confront their ontological, epistemic and axiological positions and appreciate the positions of others. The cases all emphasize experience as the source of learning and explore how learning experiences can be designed to facilitate transformations at the individual level that might foster resilience at the social-ecological system levels. We argue that the epistemic dimension deserves greater attention among educators and that epistemic development is crucial for those working with social-ecological systems as a foundation for building resilience.


resilience; social-ecological systems; learning systems; social learning; experiential learning; epistemic development; environmental education

Published in

Environmental Education Research
2010, volume: 16, number: 5-6, pages: 559-573

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG4 Quality education

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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