Sustainability and Social Inequality in Nordic Early Childhood Education

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This paper aims to explore the challenges and openings related to addressing social inequality in early childhood sustainability education in a Danish context.
Addressing social inequalities has been considered a key dimension of sustainable development efforts since the emergence of the concept. Since the 1980s, the environmental justice movement in, for instance, North America and South Africa, has linked environmental problems to social justice, and from the 2000s calls for climate justice gained momentum in global climate activism agenda (see e.g. Haluza-DeLay, 2014). Lately, the French ‘gilets jaunes’ have brought to the attention of the wider European public that climate change policies (such as rising fuel prices) often have a social bias. Yet, in the Danish context, the interest for social inequality in relation to environment and sustainability issues has been limited (primarily with a focus on questions of unequal access to and ‘use’ of nature within the national population). Furthermore, within the Danish education system, the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and ecological) have until recently most often been treated as separate agendas. Based on an analysis of educational encounters involving students and professionals who attempt to combine social and ecological concerns, in the context of early childhood education, in this paper we explore, on the one hand, dilemmas and paradoxes for sustainability education and, on the other hand, openings for rethinking early childhood sustainability education in the Danish/Scandinavian context.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventECER 2019: 'Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future' - Hamborg, Germany
Duration: 3 Sept 20196 Sept 2019


ConferenceECER 2019


  • construction, environment and energy
  • children and youth
  • learning, educational science and teaching

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