Editorial: The role of the human dimension in promoting education for sustainable development at the regional level

Dlouhá, Jana
White, Rehema, M.
Petry, Roger
Reeves, Andrew
Lozano, Rodrigo
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Peer reviewed
The Frontiers in Sustainability Research Topic “The role of the human dimension in promoting education for sustainable development at the regional level” is comprised of nine articles. This theme was developed in collaboration with editors representing Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from different regions of the world. In general, RCEs provide a framework in which regional networks of higher education institutions (HEIs), public, private, and civil society organizations play the role of critical partners in the implementation of sustainable development appropriate to regional contexts. The RCE concept is internationally accepted and has been used since 2003. Currently there are 190 RCEs around the world that strive to bridge formal and non-formal education in their respective regions to create an integrated and contextualized agenda on how learning for sustainable development can be better implemented to achieve more sustainable societies and ecological integrity. The involvement of diverse regional actors within an RCE, and the nature of the learning processes that underpin their activities in practice, serve as a model for how to shape ESD in general. However, the growing network of these regional associations with its potential global impact raises many questions. Not only do RCEs offer a new approach to regional development, driven by the sustainability focus of the RCEs, but they also challenge the traditional role of HEIs in generating the knowledge necessary for development processes. To answer some of these questions, the papers in this Research Topic discuss the processes of learning in different regional contexts and their transformative effects. These processes have the potential not only to influence the current environmental, social, and economic situation in different regions, but also to bring innovation to the education system. The papers often focus on the agency of social actors (institutions, networks, and individuals), their shared visions, and their roles and activities carried out in a local/regional context to achieve desirable common goals—the social capital they collectively generate. The research in this Research Topic thus emphasizes the human dimension of these processes, where the exchange of ideas about the future and critical thinking are essential preconditions for change—as opposed to the (often overestimated) focus on technology. An important keyword is innovation: in a safe social environment with supportive relationships, new solutions to persistent problems can emerge, and new perspectives driven by creativity can provide space to ask fundamental questions.
open access article
Dlouhá, J., White, R.M., Petry, R., Reeves, A. and Lozano, R. (2023) Editorial: The role of the human dimension in promoting education for sustainable development at the regional level. Frontiers in Sustainability. 4, 1281269
Research Institute
Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)