Chapter, 2023

The Twinning of Bildung and Competence in Environmental and Sustainability Education: Nordic Perspectives

In: Handbook of Curriculum Theory and Research, 978-3-030-82976-6, 978-3-030-82976-6

Series: Springer International Handbooks of Education ISSN 2197-1951, 2197-196X, Pages 1-16

Publisher: Springer Nature

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-82976-6_9-1

Contributors (1)

Carlsson, Monica (Corresponding author) [1]


  1. [1] Aarhus University
  2. [NORA names: AU Aarhus University; University; Denmark; Europe, EU; Nordic; OECD]


This chapter explores the twinning of Bildung (political and democratic formation) and competence in the action competence (AC) concept, highlighting its assumptions regarding what constitute appropriate forms of learning, action, and change in justifications of curricular content and teaching and learning approaches and potentials and constraints in terms of guiding educational practice. It is drawing on conceptualizations of AC in key theoretical texts within environmental and sustainability education (ESE), as well as on the concept’s use in a set of Nordic guidelines for ESE practice. Its conceptualization as an educational ideal is well aligned with notions of active democratic citizenship in Nordic educational policies and curriculum frameworks and is referring to both a non-affirmative and a transformative approach to education. On the one hand, underlining that education is not about shaping children and young people in line with a preexisting or given society; on the other hand, emphasizing the potential of education to transform and change subjectivities. The use of the concept in the Nordic guidelines illustrates different understandings of AC, validating the introductory description of the concept as a vehicular educational idea that can be taken up in different ways in pursuit of various ends, its hermeneutic, and contextual flexibility allowing it to balance different interests within educational research, policy, and practice. Its use in the guidelines can furthermore be described as framed by an adaptive approach, referring to forms of learning, action, and change that do not challenge existing frameworks or rationales in schools.


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