Key competencies: Reconciling means and ends in education for sustainable consumption

Daniel Fischer, Matthias Barth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Sustainable consumption is a focal point of interest in the interplay of school-based health promotion and sustainability. It calls for alternative ways to satisfy the objective needs of current society and future generations whilst respecting "planetary boundaries". Action is called for that protects and safeguards environmental conditions that allow all humans to live a good and healthy life. In the pursuit of sustainable consumption, education is widely ascribed a pivotal role as an instrument for disseminating more sustainable consumer behaviors. However, beneath this seemingly consensual surface the questions of which sustainability objectives are appropriate in an educational engagement with consumption issues and how they can be pursued is the subject of controversial debate. This controversy is addressed in this chapter. In a first step, it suggests the development of key competencies as a valid and legitimate objective that addresses both individual and societal needs. The authors systematically derive a framework of key competencies for sustainable consumption and discuss the framework's application to educational practice. Secondly, the chapter addresses the question of how formal and informal learning settings need to be designed in order to promote the acquisition of such competencies among students. A participatory whole-school approach to changing the “culture of consumption” in educational organizations is presented that was developed, implemented and evaluated in a transdisciplinary 3-year project. The chapter concludes with a discussion of synergies between the sustainability and health agendas for the emergence of innovative schools for the twenty-first century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSchools for Health and Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research and Practice
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789401791717
ISBN (Print)9789401791700
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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