130515 Education for sustainable development Ability and Disability Studies

130515 Reflecting on Education for Sustainable Development through Two Lenses: Ability Studies and Disability Studies
Gregor Wolbring , and Brigid Burke
in Sustainability 2013, 5, 2327-2342; doi:10.3390/su5062327

The call for papers asked us to cast a critical eye on the practice and purpose of sustainability-focused education, and its successes and failures, thus far. We approach this task in this paper through two lenses that have not yet been very visible in the education for sustainable development (ESD) discourse. One is the lens of disability studies which is the inquiry around the lived reality of disabled people; the other is the lens of ability studies which among others investigates (a) which abilities are seen as essential in a given context; (b) the dynamic of how an ability expectation consensus is reached, if it is reached and (c) the impact of ability expectations. We conclude that (a) no consensus has been reached within ESD discourses as to the process of how to identify essential abilities and as to a list of abilities seen as important and (b) that disabled people are invisible in the formal and informal ESD discourse. We expect the paper to be of interest to disabled people, ESD scholars, teachers of ESD in different educational settings, students of ESD training, NGOs involved in ESD as well as policy makers involved in ESD.