Eco-social sustainability and education (ESSE)


The quickening pace of climate change and the sixth wave of extinction have caused rapidly growing global concern. The wicked problems of our time are as much social as technical in nature and thus education is key in addressing and solving these problems. We must advance the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable us to move towards an ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable life.

Education that strives for eco-social sustainability provides everyone with opportunities to live a good life, in other words, it promotes planetary well-being.

An ecologically and socially sustainable way of thinking can be described as eco-social wisdom. A wise person is able to look at the interlinked phenomena in nature, economy, and society from multiple perspectives. Research in this area closely links with the study of the ecological concept of resource wisdom, on the one hand, and the philosophical and psychological research of wisdom, on the other hand. Therefore, the team is associated with the School of Resource Wisdom (JYU.WISDOM), a transdisciplinary multi-faculty research community of University of Jyväskylä), and collaborates closely with the research team Wisdom and learning of FIER.

Research in the Ecosocial sustainability and education team addresses, for example, the following questions:

  • How to develop teaching towards ecological, social and economic sustainability at all levels of education?
  • What kind of sustainability competencies should education foster?
  • How to advance collaborative problem-solving that aims at creating sustainable practices in educational communities and organisations?
  • How to assess the reaching of sustainable development goals in education?
  • How to strengthen human-nature relationship at different stages of their life?
  • How to advance global citizenship and planetary phronesis?

The multidisciplinary ESSE team comprises experts in the field of education, organisation and policy studies, philosophy and psychology. The team members are:

Hannu Heikkinen (team leader)

Elizabeth Anastasiadou

Terhi Ek

Eeva K. Kallio

Josephine Moate

Niina Mykrä

Terhi Nokkala

Antti Pirhonen

Päivi Tynjälä

Taina Saarinen

Maarit Virolainen

Anu Virtanen