Unlocking the Potentiality and Actuality of ICTs in Developing Sustainability-Justice Curricula and Society

By Makrakis, Vassilios | Knowledge Cultures, March 2017 | Go to article overview

Unlocking the Potentiality and Actuality of ICTs in Developing Sustainability-Justice Curricula and Society


Makrakis, Vassilios, Knowledge Cultures


ABSTRACT. While social justice is a frequently employed concept in the deconstruction and reconstruction of instructional practice in schools, sustainability-justice that, in addition to social justice, integrates environmental, economic and cultural justice, has not been so well discussed. This article explores a critical perspective of curriculum and ICTs potentiality and actuality in transforming education towards a sustainable-just society. The DeCoRe plus methodological approach has been developed and used in pre-service teacher education courses, with the aim to embed sustainability justice in school curricula. This process is highly enhanced through two major complementary trends, namely, Open Education Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW), that are shifting the old ways of knowing, being, living together, doing and sharing, as well as the spatial and temporal boundaries.

Keywords: ICTs; curriculum; sustainability justice; DeCoRe plus methodology

(1.) The Sustainability Crisis and the Issue of Justice

The world today is facing various problems which threaten its very existence in the not so distant future (UNICEF, 2015; FAO, 2014). The unsustainable economic path experienced throughout the 20th century has created tremendous social, economic and cultural disparities worldwide. Humanity is living a crisis of sustainability that includes not only environmental issues such as ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, but also economic and social issues, such as poverty, social inequalities, violation of human rights, unequal trade, gender inequalities, and recent migration on an unprecedented scale. Social, economic, environmental and cultural injustices prevail in human society and this constrains us to seek an alternative human development path that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (WCED, 1987: 43). More specifically, the asymmetries created by economic globalization in the last three decades, have not only widened the disparities between the developed and developing countries, the wealthy and poor people, but also within countries across the world (Peters, 2014). It seems that the gap between the rich and the poor, between the affluent and non-affluent countries, between the current and new generations, seems to be further widening. Despite the late interest in "green economics", in reality current global policies still prioritise capital accumulation, at the expense of the ecological recovery, social equity and people's well-being.

Along with the worldwide and outspoken quest for sustainability, there is much hypocrisy in the way past and current world leaders approach sustainability issues and problems. From one side, global leaders persist on neo-liberal economic growth models, with consumerism being addressed as a key factor to economic prosperity, and on the other side, they proclaim the urgency for tackling sustainability problems, such as climate change, where consumption behaviors and production practices are its key contributors. At the same time, advances in sciences and technology are seen predominantly from a pessimistic rather than an optimistic perspective. An international study (Makrakis, 2012a) found a strong and pessimistic connection between environmental consciousness and attitudes towards the role and impact of science and technology on society.

The sustainability crisis is a crisis of values that education at all levels has reproduced, maintained and perpetuated. Thus, it, seems that educational systems and learning experiences did not provide us with the knowledge, skills and tools to understand what is happening in the world, and how to transform oneself and society towards more sustainable, just futures (Makrakis & Kostoulas-Makrakis, 2013ab; Sterling, 2004; Huckle & Sterling, 1999). Huckle (2012) suggests that teachers should be introduced to critical social theory that seeks to explain the role of Web 2 technologies in the recent wave of capitalist development that precipitated economic and ecological crisis and their potential to bring about more sustainable alternatives. …

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