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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Conditions for transformative learning for sustainable development: a theoretical review and approach

Bostrom, Magnus; Olsson, Jan; Singleton, Benedict E.; Svenberg, Sebastian; Uggla, Ylva; Ohman, Johan; Andersson, Erik; Berg, Monika; Gustafsson, Karin; Gustavsson, Eva; Hysing, Erik; Lidskog, Rolf; Lofmarck, Erik; Ojala, Maria


Continued unsustainability and surpassed planetary boundaries require not only scientific and technological advances, but deep and enduring social and cultural changes. The purpose of this article is to contribute a theoretical approach to understand conditions and constraints for societal change towards sustainable development. In order to break with unsustainable norms, habits, practices, and structures, there is a need for learning for transformation, not only adaption. Based on a critical literature review within the field of learning for sustainable development, our approach is a development of the concept of transformative learning, by integrating three additional dimensionsInstitutional Structures, Social Practices, and Conflict Perspectives. This approach acknowledges conflicts on macro, meso, and micro levels, as well as structural and cultural constraints. It contends that transformative learning is processual, interactional, long-term, and cumbersome. It takes place within existing institutions and social practices, while also transcending them. The article adopts an interdisciplinary social science perspective that acknowledges the importance of transformative learning in order for communities, organizations, and individuals to be able to deal with global sustainability problems, acknowledging the societal and personal conflicts involved in such transformation.


conflict; institutional; learning; social change; social practice; structure; transformative

Published in

2018, volume: 10, number: 12, article number: 4479

Authors' information

Boström, Magnus
Örebro University
Andersson, Erik
Örebro University
Berg, Monika
Örebro University
Gustafsson, Karin
Örebro University
Gustavsson, Eva
Örebro University
Hysing, Erik
Örebro University
Lidskog, Rolf
Örebro University
Löfmarck, Erik
Örebro University
Ojala, Maria
Örebro University
Olsson, Jan
Örebro University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre
Svenberg, Sebastian
Örebro University
Uggla, Ylva
Örebro University
Öhman, Johan
Örebro University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Publication Identifiers


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