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Special Issue
Transgressive Learning and Transformations to Sustainability.
Dear Colleagues,

To transgress means to ′step beyond′, to ′overstep′, ′to go beyond a boundary′ or ′to go against the grain′. Importantly, transgression may also occur via care, caution and compassion, i.e. transgression that is mindful and ethically responsive. Transgression necessarily includes learning encounters with that which is not yet there, disruptively or seamlessly emerging via a process in open systems. When we connect transgression to the realm of learning, we may reach a more radical form of questioning and acting out what transformations to sustainability, or sustainable development could mean in diverse contexts, challenging that which has become normalized or that which is acted out as the (unsustainable) status quo.

In 2015, countries around the world ambitiously signed up to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The intention of the SDGs, if interpreted through the targets, is to mobilise significant societal resources towards enabling radical changes towards sustainability. Such radical changes are needed, for while sustainable development is not an uncontested notion, its current entrenchment in the modern paradigm may render its ability to address sustainability challenges limited, especially when viewed in the context of contemporary discourse on wicked sustainable development/sustainability issues. Sustainability issues are not disconnected from histories and contemporary enactments of colonial intrusion, neo-liberalism, amplified forms of commodification, patriarchy, dehumanization, nature–culture bifurcations, and social injustices—all of which need to be transgressed for real transformations to sustainability to emerge. They are also connected to contemporary educational theory and histories which are proving to be inadequate for engaging with the nature of wicked sustainability problems in the Anthropocene.

There are numerous dimensions and dynamics associated with 'transgressive learning' in the move towards sustainability. These relate not only to how sustainability is or is not framed as key concept for guiding learning, but also how transgression and disruption is framed as a component of learning. Highlighting some of the qualities of transgressive learning, researchers in the International Science Council research programme on transformations to sustainability ( are articulating such learning (t-learning) as including inter-alia, the pursuit of cognitive justice, solidarity building, metaphorical meaning making, social critique, optimal disruption, creating empathy, reclaiming knowledge(s) and cultures lost (amongst other features of such learning). Their work also shows that challenging societal contradictions and conceptual paradoxes and seeing these as fertile grounds for transgressive learning and disruptive capacity building offers spaces for expansive learning, transgressing norms, surfacing ′silent knowledges′, and navigating power dynamics.

In this Special Issue, we invite authors to consider transgression as a metaphor and Leitmotif for the kind(s) of learning that are needed if sustainability, social justice and more benign humaNature relations are to be realised. This may involve transgressing and engaging taken-for-granted theories and metaphors of learning such as acquisition, or participation; it may involve transgressing current structural constraints in education and learning systems; it may involve unlocking deep-seated systemic blockages that hold unsustainability in place. It may also involve challenging emerging notions of transgressive learning!

We invite research that covers theory building, methodology development, and reflections on transgressive learning praxis in diverse cultural, political–economic, and social–ecological contexts. We invite papers that represent the full scope of educational research including public pedagogy, informal learning, formal education, community education, social learning, comparative education, transdisciplinary higher education, e-learning and more. Via such contributions, authors contributing to this Special Issue might add to an emerging body of work on transgressive learning and transformations to sustainability, or they may reflexively engage with existing work articulating transgressive learning in order to clarify and substantiate understanding of processes of transgressive learning in transformations to sustainability. We invite submissions from empirical and philosophical/theoretical studies, preferably a combination of the two.

Prof. Dr. Heila Lotz-Sisitka
Dr. Stefan Bengtsson
Guest Editors
Inhaltsverzeichnis :

Hellquist, A.; Westin, M. On the Inevitable Bounding of Pluralism in ESE—An Empirical Study of the Swedish Green Flag Initiative. Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2026;

Bengtsson, S. Engaging with the Beyond—Diffracting Conceptions of T-Learning. Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3430;

Burt, J. Research for the People, by the People: The Political Practice of Cognitive Justice and Transformative Learning in Environmental Social Movements. Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5611;

Condeza-Marmentini, A.; Flores-González, L. Teachers′ Transgressive Pedagogical Practices in Context: Ecology, Politics, and Social Change. Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6145;

Phuong, L.; Tuan, T.; Phuc, N. Transformative Social Learning for Agricultural Sustainability and Climate Change Adaptation in the Vietnam Mekong Delta. Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6775;

James, A. Making (Non)Sense of Urban Water Flows: Qualities and Processes for Transformative and Transgressive Learning Moments. Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6817;

Mudokwani, K.; Mukute, M. Exploring Group Solidarity for Insights into Qualities of T-learning. Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6825;

Mohanty, S.; Ramaswamy, R.; Duraiappah, A. On the Design of a Youth-Led, Issue-Based, Crowdsourced Global Monitoring Framework for the SDGs. Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6839;

Macintyre, T.; Chaves, M.; Monroy, T.; Zethelius, M.; Villarreal, T.; Tassone, V.; Wals, A. Transgressing Boundaries between Community Learning and Higher Education: Levers and Barriers. Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2601;
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