Transactional investigations of learning in view of sustainability transitions

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2026
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Environmental education and extension
  • Social sciences
    • Civic learning and community development
    • Informal learning
    • Methodology of pedagogical and educational research
    • General pedagogical and educational sciences not elsewhere classified
    • Microlevel instructional sciences
    • Social change
  • Engineering and technology
    • Sustainable development
learning sustainability transitions Sustainable Food systems sustainable mobility plastics pragmatism
Project description

Today, severe socio-ecological problems increasingly disturb our customary ways of behaving. As our changing environment emerges as a crisis that disturbs our habits, we are faced with the challenge of finding new ways of inhabiting the world. In this context, ‘learning’ is often seen as vital for transforming our society into a more sustainable direction. The LESTRA project’s key question is how can learning fruitfully contribute to sustainability transitions (STs).

This project’s objectives are 1) to develop a new analytical and conceptual framework for investigating the connections between learning processes, the transformation of habits and customs, and (potential) STs; 2) to identify the key conditions for learning to contribute to STs; and 3) to develop a roadmap for future research in diverse settings and contexts. Achieving a breakthrough requires us to successfully connect the process and outcomes of micro learning processes to the emergence of macro societal transitions.

Transactional pragmatism provides valuable inspiration to investigate the learning that takes shape in response to sustainability problems that are increasingly disturbing our habitual ways of acting. It will be used to develop a novel analytical and conceptual framework by building on earlier work in environmental and sustainability education research, didactics and sustainability transition studies.

The newly developed analytical toolbox will be applied to empirical data collected in three case studies on sustainable food systems, sustainable mobility, and a sustainable way of handling plastics. The analyses focus on identifying key patterns of how learning through engagement with sustainability problems results in the consolidation, enrichment or (trans)formation of habits and customs, assessing and categorising the outcomes of learning episodes in terms of their potential to contribute to STs, and analysing (changes in) the socio-technical systems in the three cases in order to identify and describe potential STs in-the-making. Synthesis should result in successfully tracing the connections between the learning process, outcomes of learning and (potential) STs. Building upon this, we will develop hypotheses and a research agenda as a roadmap for future research.