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Learning Sustainability

This is an article collection in Sustainable Earth.

Learning is a relatively new concern in sustainability.  Much attention has been given to sustainability education, especially in tertiary education, but rather less on how people learn about sustainability and learn to become sustainable, especially from experience.

Sustainability has traditionally been defined with three pillars: social, environmental, economic.  We seem to have forgotten a fourth pillar, learning, without which none of the other three could ever constitute a solid element in sustainability.

The objective of this article collection is to examine and improve the learning of sustainability; it is to build, as it were, a fully sustainable concept of sustainability.  It is to develop and broaden the realization that learning is a crucial component of sustainability and to make explicit the practice of learning in sustainability for sustainability.  If the world (people, institutions, education, science, organizations, professional associations, research, industry, governments, etc.) pays insufficient attention to this pillar of learning, then sustainability will at best simply hobble along, at worst wither and even die, taking humanity with it.

We wish to examine how people and communities typically learn about sustainability, learn to become and be sustainable, learn to help others learn, learn about helping others learn, sustainability. We wish to examine, make explicit and improve what it is to learn sustainability – as a way of life, as second nature, just as we learn language, culture and maths, often from direct or vicarious experience.

We welcome articles from ordinary citizens, scientists, trainers, citizen scientists and learners, especially those who have learned from their experience of the Earth (e.g., through floods, adventure, tsunamis, exploration, earthquakes, field work, rescue missions, professional work, disasters, organizational work, travel, etc).  A wide range of structured experiential learning types is relevant, such as debriefing, simulations, Companion Modelling, role-play, internships, field trips, games, museums, school outings, activism, voluntary work, conferences, project work, etc.

Key themes:
•    Learning and sustainability
•    Experience and learning for a sustainable Earth
•    Experiential learning for sustainability
•    Ethical dimensions of experiential learning for sustainability
•    Processing experience of the Earth to turn it into learning sustainability

Please consider submitting an article proposal if you:
•    Are a sustainability or climate change workshop facilitator;
•    Are concerned or even passionate about making the Earth sustainable;
•    Are learning, or helping others to learn, about sustainability;
•    Consider that experience is an important way in which people learn sustainability;
•    Consider ethics to be important in learning (about) sustainability;
•    Are an environmental educator, using participatory learning methods;
•    Have a story to tell about helping the Earth to become more sustainable; or
•    Would like to share your own learning experience in sustainability.

Submission Instructions

Before submitting your manuscript, please:

  1. Read the Call for Papers of the Lead Guest Editor, and, which explains in greater depth the spirit and scope of this article collection;
  2. Send your Article Proposal to the Lead Guest Editor,, and
  3. Ensure that you have carefully read the submission guidelines for Sustainable Earth.

After your Article Proposal has been accepted, your complete manuscript should be submitted through the Sustainable Earth submission system. To ensure that you submit to the correct thematic series please select the appropriate thematic series in the drop-down menu upon submission. In addition, indicate within your cover letter that you wish your manuscript to be considered as part of the article collection on Learning Sustainability. All submissions will undergo rigorous peer review and accepted articles will be published within the journal as a collection.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies, including those pertaining to Collections. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

Lead Guest Editor

David Crookall, Université Côte d’Azur, France

Guest Editors

Melania Borit, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

Gillian Bowser, Colorado State University, USA

Margaret Brocx, Murdoch University, Australia

Eleanor Burke, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School & Harvard University Extension, USA  

Jaimie Cloud, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, USA

David Kolb, Experiential Learning Systems, USA

Chris Skinner, University of Hull, UK

Warren Thorngate, Carleton University, Canada

Charlotte Weber, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway, Norway 

Submissions will also benefit from the usual advantages of open access publication:

  • Rapid publication: Online submission, electronic peer review and production make the process of publishing your article simple and efficient
  • High visibility and international readership in your field: Open access publication ensures high visibility and maximum exposure for your work - anyone with online access can read your article
  • No space constraints: Publishing online means unlimited space for figures, extensive data and video footage
  • Authors retain copyright, licensing the article under a Creative Commons license: articles can be freely redistributed and reused as long as the article is correctly attributed

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  1. The world’s 2.5 billion poorest people - small farmers living at the far fringe of the developing world – and their billion or so slightly better off neighbors burn 10.5 billion metric tonnes (tonnes) of crop ...

    Authors: Michael Shafer
    Citation: Sustainable Earth 2020 3:18
  2. This paper recounts the two-year journey of an eight-member public Massachusetts high school environmental club that set out to decrease their local community’s consumption of single-use plastics. In the acade...

    Authors: Eleanor Burke, Christopher Ciano Collins, Lucy Bergeron and Kara Lavender Law
    Citation: Sustainable Earth 2020 3:15
  3. As a response to collective failure to move adequately towards sustainability, youth movements have grown. This article explores the experiences of one young climate activist, Elsie Luna. The article is the pr...

    Authors: Elsie Luna and Andrew Mearman
    Citation: Sustainable Earth 2020 3:4