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Cand.theol. Ole Andreas Kvamme

Recontextualizing environmental ethical values in a globalized world. Studies in moral education.

In this PhD thesis I study recontextualizations of environmental ethical values in moral education. The three considered values, claimed by United Nations and UNESCO within the Sustainable Development Agenda, are the concerns for present and future human beings and for nature – in this thesis expressed as the more-than-human world. In two of the included papers I explore how the values are recontextualized in a Norwegian educational context, respectively in education policy and curriculum documents during the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005– 2014), and among 10th grade students engaged in moral education facing the challenges of sustainability. In the third paper I study the school strikes for the climate, analyzing a selection of Greta Thunberg´s speeches. The extended abstract situates the studies within the historical context of globalizations in the era of the Anthropocene and positions the thesis within the research field of moral education. Moral education is in a Norwegian school context addressed in a particular school subject, but is here also conceived of as a dimension in all education, even transcending formal institutions.

A central problem is the relationship between universal values and particular contexts, explored from the perspective of critical cosmopolitanism. Qualitative research has been carried out, involving document analysis, classroom observations, and interviews. A reflexive methodology has been adopted, acknowledging the significance of interpretation in research practices.

A decisive finding in the first study is the withdrawn position of the values of future generations and the more-than-human world, in both policy documents and the curriculum, with the objects clause as a significant exception.  A conspicuous element in the second study is the consistently individual perspective placed on the ethical challenges. The students’ local and global situatedness is not explored, neither is global justice. The hallmark of the school strikes for the climate turns out to be the students´ appropriation of the value of future generations, conceived of as a cosmopolitan claim, by which the adult world is held accountable.

This research has been carried out at Department of Teacher Education and School Research, University of Oslo.


Published Mar. 6, 2020 8:59 AM - Last modified Sep. 18, 2020 7:06 PM