Detailed Program of the Conference

Parallel sessions - A.9.2 Education for Sustainability [EFS] As A Ground for Innovation Both in Methodology and Knowledge. A Strategic Alliance for Transformative Education Between Schools and Community
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
2:15pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Giovanni Borgarello
Session Chair: Michela Mayer
Session Chair: Giovanna Del Gobbo
Location: Room 2

Session Panels:
A.9. Education for Sustainability [EFS] As A Ground for Innovation Both In Methodology And Knowledge. A Strategic Alliance for Transformative Education Between Schools and Community

External Resource:


Sonia Massari1, Francesca Allievi2

1Roma Tre University, Italy; 2JAMK University, Finland

In the current context of increasing environmental challenges, it becomes of uppermost importance to prompt the younger generation towards a more sustainable way of living, fostering those attitudes and skills which can better contribute to a more sustainable society. A major role in this sense is played by the issues related to food, which is intrinsically connected to all SDGs (UN, 2015; SRC, 2016). Food sustainability is complex, including malnutrition (which further includes hunger, under-nutrition, obesity, etc.), food loss and food waste, as well as water stress in agriculture, decreasing biodiversity, and many other problems linked with the production, distribution, and consumption of food. The food system also includes a variety of agents with views and priorities that are often contradicting each other: only by keeping in mind how everything and everyone is interconnected (Ukaga et al., 2010), we may find the necessary dialogue and shared solutions towards a more sustainable direction. To support this process, higher education can offer the possibility to gain not only knowledge on these issues, but even more, to develop the right attitude and mindsets to approach sustainability with critical and creative thinking, acting upon collaborative learning dynamics. The case presented here uses the Food Sustainability Index (FSI) as a starting point for an educational module aimed not only at gaining knowledge on the major paradoxes of food sustainability but also at developing systemic thinking through empathy. Focusing on empathy is particularly relevant because it increases the possibility that an individual will care and act toward another’s suffering (Owoimaha-Church, 2017): by activating the empathic recognition of other people’s and nature’s inherent value, it becomes easier to understand, locally and globally, how sustainability needs to include all life forms (Massari et al., 2021). The FSI is a composite index attempting to measure food systems’ sustainability at the national level. It is made by the weighted sum of 89 qualitative and quantitative metrics (BCFN and EIU, 2018), which span over food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges. In its third edition in 2018, it assessed 67 countries from all over the world. The availability of such a large database for so many countries and on such a wide range of societal problems, made the FSI the ideal starting point to develop an educational module, named FSI Edu toolkit, to teach the complexity of food sustainability issues in higher education curricula. The module is composed of five parts, namely a theoretical lesson, two collaborative workshops, and one knowledge-assessment questionnaire to be delivered at the beginning and at the end of the module. The toolkit includes a set of materials( also for distance learning). So far, the FSI Edu has reached nearly 600 students in universities around the world, both in the setting of face-to-face and online classes, from faculties including Hospitality Management, Engineering, Nutrition, Food Studies, Design Studies and Food Science.


Giorgio Salza, Giovanni Borgarello

Comune di Torre Pellice, Italy

Learning is not merely an individual but a collective process. Beyond the fact that one always and in any case learns within relationships and thanks to relationships [Sielig, 2001), and that each one needs others and a context to learn (we always learns through interposed discourse as Galilei said in the Dialogue above maximum systems): above all, certain learnings are either collective and lead to collective transformations (of communities / societies, organizations, territories) or they are not. This seems to be true especially for what concerned to the processes of building sustainable societies and economies, the great challenge and the great horizon of the next thirty / fifty years. But what does it mean to learn as a community? For what kind of sustainability? Which methodological and organizational devices need to be activated? Through which processes of reflection, documentation and evaluation is it possible to bring out and enhance results? For some years now, in an Alpine Piedmont area, a sort of "territory / laboratory" due to its ancient and long tradition, several processes have been designed and concretely implemented in which social, educational and sustainable territorial development dimensions are closely integrated. Starting from the analysis of some of these experiences, we intend to focus on the first methodological lines relating to how to activate and make lasting community processes aimed at sustainability. In this context, the notions of community and sustainability will be discussed first, which require complex gazes and definitions: community understood as a network of local relations, which is not given but must be built; sustainability understood as recognition, care and enhancement of common goods (resources, networks, local milieu) by Local Territorial Systems. The methodological analysis will also focus on the descriptions of specific methods such as the Future Lab [Jungk R., Mullert N., 1996; Pellegrino V., 2019] and the Laverack matrix [Laverack G., 2018], and on specific contexts of community construction such as the Community Educational Pacts, which can represent the framework within which to activate long-term co-planning between territory stakeholders, schools and other non-formal education agencies.


Affolter C., Varga A. e Posch P. (a cura di), Environment and Schol Initiatives. Lessons from the ENSI Network – Past, Present and Future, EnSI, Vienna, 2018.

Borgarello G. (a cura di), Insieme per lo sviluppo sostenibile. Idee e strumenti per progettare percorsi educativi “green”, Pracatinat, 2015

Borgarello G., Educare al futuro. Un laboratorio sulla metodologia FutureLab, in .ECO dicembre 2020.

Brunod M., Moschetti M., Pizzardi E. (a cura di), La coprogettazione sociale. Esperienze, metodologie e

riferimenti normativi, Erikson, Trento, 2016

Galetto Claudia (a cura di), Curvatura green. Uno strumento per l’innovazione green delle competenze e

dei curricula nel territorio, IRES Piemonte, 2020

Genta R., Un sistema educativo locale, Erikson, Trento, 2016

Kaneklin C., Piccardo C., Scaratti G., La ricerca-azione, Cortina Editore, Milano, 2010.

Laverack G., Salute pubblica. Potere, empowerment e pratica professionale, Il Pensiero Scientifico, Roma,


Pellegrino V., Futuri possibili, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2019.

Sielig D.J., La mente relazionale. Neurobiologia dell’esperienza interpersonale, Cortina, Milano 2001.


Denis Francesconi, Evi Agostini

Faculty Philosophy and Education,University Vienna

Recent socio-economic and environmental crises, such as Covid-19 and climate change, have presented serious challenges to human systemic homeostasis, safety and continuity, and require prompt and adequate responses from human communities (Steffen et al., 2015; Walker et al., 2020). We present an empirical and conceptual analysis of FridaysForFuture (FFF) and its intended aim of effecting socio-economic change through the promotion of sustainable development.

FFF is a macro social movement that has received outstanding world-wide public recognition worldwide and gained visibility over the last three years. It is of great interest to educational research since it is largely composed of youngsters and seems to play a paideutic role in relation to societal innovation, being able to autonomously collect and share complex forms of scientific and ethical knowledge and enacting them in society to trigger collective awareness and agency. In contrast with formal schooling, FFF is a bottom-up movement, an emergent self-organizing network, a complex, nested and informal community providing pedagogical activities to peers and adults to promote social engagement (Kühne, 2019; Stratton, 2021). We define FFF as an enactive network due to its capacity to retrieve scientific knowledge and transform it into lived knowledge enacted in the real world. FFF aims to distribute such knowledge, mobilize large numbers of people and influence public discourse under an explicit though non-homogenous ethical umbrella.

Social movements are powerful arenas for learning how to initiate societal change, gain transformative agency, and develop critical thinking (Kajamaa and Kumpulainen, 2019). The motivational and interactional intensity of social movements is often seen as a desirable model for human learning and education in general (Sannino et al., 2016). However, relatively little rigorous research has been conducted on the mechanisms and processes of enactive, engaged learning within social movements (ibidem), especially within FFF. Our hypothesis is that FFF represents an innovative and valuable model for connecting schooling and activism, education and politics, embodied and virtual life, and individual and collective perspectives, and for promoting students’ agency as well as student-scientist collaboration on sustainable social innovation.

We adopt embodied and enactive cognition theory (EC) (Gallagher and Francesconi, 2012; Varela et al., 2016) and systems theory (Papachristos et al., 2013; Folke et al., 2005) as theoretical frameworks for analyzing the collective agency and pedagogical-ethical implications of FFF. In line with the theme of this special issue, we present data from a quali-quantitative study on FFF organization, dynamics and discourse and describe possible hints for the formal school system. In particular, after an introduction to descriptive data about FFF’s discourse, we look at possible forms of collaboration between FFF and formal educational institutions and discuss what schools could learn from FFF to promote students’ activism and collective agency in the sector of Educations for Sustainable Development (ESD)/Education for Sustainability (EFS).

We conclude by providing conceptual insights as the basis for further educational research and practical implementation.


Rosa Tiziana Bruno

Università di Salerno, Italy

The connection between education and sustainability has been posited to have benefit for realizing a social development compatible with environmental protection. In order to verify this hypothesis work, it is necessary to start by studying the system of educational relations. The currently widespread educational paradigm is cognitive-rational and stems from a model of social relationship based on productivity. School output is conceived in terms linked to the rational needs of the productive world, and this generates micro-social behaviors of competition and oppression. On the contrary, the educational challenge launched by the UN requires a response based on the development of consciences in a dimension that considers the acquisition of skills necessary to live sustainable relationships. The real strength of ecological thinking lies in affirming itself as something new and different, distancing itself from selfish and aggressive impulses. And it is a challenge that can be won by activating all the components of adult education: schools, families, the associative fabric, the media. To build a sustainable world, it is necessary to become people in harmony with other human beings, aware that they belong to the same human community that is part of the natural world. This can only be achieved by looking for the most effective tools to transform the school into an educating community where everyone can feel in harmony with others and encouraged to actively participate. In the light of these observations, the proposal of a new socio-relational educational paradigm constitutes a concrete objective, to be developed in a dialogue between sociology and pedagogical sciences, to work on building sustainable relationships within the educational system, with concrete repercussions on other institutions: family, politics, law. Sociological intervention in the school is fundamental because sociology has the specific investigation and methodological tools necessary for studying the system of relationships in the school and for the elaboration of intervention strategies on micro-social and in the school-family relationship. This is what was experimented in a research conducted in agreement with the Department of Political, Social and Communication Sciences of the University of Salerno. The intervention, structured as action-research, implements for the first time the encounter between literature and nature by combining different educational techniques in symbiosis. The research started with the question: is it possible to introduce a system of relationships at school that promotes the development of sustainable ways of living? subsequantly experimenting with the introduction of a new didactic strategy, in a socio-relational educational paradigm. The novelty of the path, called Fiabadiario, consists in the use of narration as a mediation tool, combining classroom teaching with outdoor education, understood in its social richness: education in listening, dialogue, respect, sense of community. As research director I have carried out the path on children, adolescents, teachers and parents, in Italian public schools of all levels and in the pediatric ward of the Sacco Hospital in Milan, even at a distance. The results obtained reveal an encouraging prospect of change, in the direction of building sustainable relationships, through a fruitful dialogue with other disciplines.


Sara Brenda, Caterina Micolano

Feat Impresa Sociale srl, Italy

If education is a common good, training is a collective affair, a responsibility to be shared.

For a democratic governance of education, in a complex and changing society, it is necessary to think about the evolutionary processes of education that challenge Institutions, Academies, Research Establishment, Companies, Civil Society and each of us.

In this perspective, education is not a tool to allow people to conform to the needs of the context but rather a path that can offer the opportunity for everyone to acquire a global perspective and competences of action, participation, and innovation at the local level, in a frame of fundamental shared values, such as: respect for human dignity, social justice, cultural diversity and plural responsibility for a sustainable future.

The WE project supports this vision. It realizes a participatory process for the promotion of education for sustainable development and citizenship in a community, challenging schools asking them to set up a network, which immediately strengthens their partnership, and Asking to Town authority and to Universities to identify the most sensitive stakeholders, ready to collaborate.

The project starts with a teacher training course, encouraging them to think about themselves as changemakers in their community. The meetings are organized to deepen the knowledge of the territorial situation in relation to the sustainable development goals (cf. Annual reports SDGs) and of national and international documents concerning sustainable development and global citizenship. Another aim is to foster, with a research-action method, an approach to transdisciplinary knowledge and the development of multiple professional competences, including empathy, creativity, action and imagination of possible future scenarios.

Then, the so-called Community Hubs: multi-actor co-planning tables in which teachers, school principals, parents, university professors, representatives of institutions, companies, Civil Society, design sustainable development paths and social innovation initiatives for the whole community.

After the first experience carried out in 2019 in Mantova for the eight kindergarten managed by the City Council, Enel Italia and ANCI have decided to support and promote the WE project also in Palermo, Bari and in two other cities to be identified.

To date, 23 schools and 250 teachers, three municipalities, two universities and 40 stakeholders have been involved. The project engaged all the partners offering a new citizenship experience, implementing values ​​and practices of collaboration and solidarity, and showing a social model more sensitive to the community dimension, in which the school is the fundamental node of a widespread educational system.


Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good? UNESCO, 2015.

National Strategy for global citizenship, 2018 (

A Rounder Sense of Purpose (RSP) Erasmus Plus Project, 2015 (


Stefania Calicchia1, Daniela Antonietti1, Nadia Sbreglia1, Michela Mayer2

1Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Italy; 2Italian Association for Sustainability Science

The relationship between Education and Sustainability is clear for a long time, namely since UNECE remarked that sustainable development must be seen as a continuous learning process and defined Education as a prerequisite for achieving it (UNECE, 2005).

In our days, the perspective of ecological transition and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda make education crucial because what is needed is a transformation of how we think and act, and individuals need to be equipped with knowledges, skills and values that empower them to become sustainability change-makers (UNESCO, 2017).

In Italy, the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (Ministry of Environment, 2017) awards to education a transversal role, aimed to transform knowledges in competences and to promote a holistic understanding of the issues that are at stake.

The Italian EES system includes a lot of public and private subjects, mostly engaged in non-formal and formal education. So the demand for an ad hoc training for environmental and sustainability education is very much perceived at all levels.

The national training course “Environmental Education for Sustainability: competences learned, competences acted” has been developed in the context of an Institutional Agreement (2018 - 2020) between the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Ministry for the Environment (MATTM), recently changed in Ministry for Ecological Transition.

The project has been realised by ISPRA, with the collaboration of the Agencies (ARPA/APPA) of the National System for Environmental Protection (SNPA) and the support of experts of the Italian Association for Sustainability Science and of the Green University NGO of Bologna.


The focus of the course, that involved over 100 participants from all regions, was to promote an understanding of the competences for educators as ‘Change Agents’. Namely, the RSP twelve-competences Model has been proposed to participants as a practical instrument to support and evaluate their professional activity.

The training course was planned as a blended course, combining online lessons on the learning platform of ISPRA and face-to-face training Laboratories. Because of the sanitary emergency from covid-19, the face-to-face activities were changed in online Laboratories, trying to maintain an active learning approach, also by using the opportunities of digital means.


A Technical Report of the project was made by ISPRA and the elaboration of a book has been planned, in which will be also presented the results of the evaluation questionnaires filled by the participants and of the questionnaire on 'Educational Beliefs'. This was created with the aim to distinguish between a 'transmissive' and a ‘transformative’ view of the educational process, and to highlight changes in educational attitudes and behaviours over time.

Finally, for its experimental and flexible training approach, the course may be considered as a pilot initiative, eventually replicable both at national and at regional level.


UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, 2005

Education for Sustainable Development Goals: learning objectives, 2017

A Rounder Sense of Purpose - Erasmus project


Virginia Cobelli, Claudia Galetto

IRES Piemonte, Italia

The project A .P.P. VER - Learning to produce green represented an important opportunity to study and experimentation of practices for green education to be used as the basis for the realization of policies aimed at meeting the demand and the educational offer of green economy in the perspective of producing new jobs, innovating the traditional one and creating new collaborations and relationships on the territory, to achieve cultural changes, knowledge and skills for the sustainable development in line with the provisions of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the National and Regional Strategies for Sustainable Development.

The project was led by the Metropolitan City of Turin, implementing by IRES - Institute of Social Economic Research of Piemonte, the support of the Piemonte Region and partners were the Municipality of Pinerolo, the Consortium Training Innovation and Quality (CFIQ) of Pinerolo and the GIP FIPAN (Academie of Nice) . Held on between 2017 and 2020, the project involved in the design of the activities a plurality of actors of agriculture, industry, professional associations, foundations, institution and government, schools, vocational training and research agencies.

The project was based on the awareness that, to produce tangible results that bridge the "distance" between the training systems and the changes taking place in the territorial socio-economic system, it is not possible to limit oneself to the "desk" updating of contents in the school and vocational training courses or to consider the individual parts of the system.

In fact, one of the biggest challenges of sustainable development that all - state, institutions, businesses, organisations, citizens, ... - have to face in the near future, lies precisely in the fact that requires new keys to interpret reality and the constant search for suitable solutions to face its complexities, which require continuous learning by all the actors to contribute to change. To do this, it is necessary to consider and interact with the processes of change already underway and to promote an idea of ​​widespread learning , as a social practice, an active process that takes place within a socio-culturally and historically located participatory framework , which provides for and legitimizes the reciprocity of learning processes, which are never just one-way .

Thanks to the experimentation carried out by the project - which involved mapping the green productive realities, the evaluation of training needs, the curving of curricula of the educational system, the realization of green training, the facilitation of meetings between the different actors of the territory - it clearly emerged that a re-orientation that considers education and vocational training integral parts of the renewal of the socio-economic culture is fundamental, so that widespread and integrated action becomes a driving force for inclusive growth and development of the social and productive potential of the territories. Obviously, new questions have emerged that we need to understand how to answer, taking as a firm point that we must do it through the construction of partnerships inspired by a logic of networking, listening, innovation and sharing .