Education for Sustainable Development: Challenges, Strategies, and Practices in a Globalizing World


Edited by: Anastasia Nikolopoulou, Taisha Abraham & Farid Mirbagheri

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    List of Tables

    • A1.1 Occupational Pattern: Scheduled Caste and Others 16
    • A1.2 Percentage of Landless and Near Landless Households among Scheduled Castes 16
    • A1.3 Land Ownership Background of Rural Labour Households 17
    • A1.4 Employment Rate 1999–2000—All India 17
    • A1.5 Unemployment Rate (Age 5 years and above) in Rural Areas 18
    • A1.6 Unemployment Rate (Age 5 years and above) in Urban Areas 19
    • A1.7 Poverty Social Groups in Rural Area 1993–1994 and 1999–2000 20
    • A1.8 Percentage of Persons Below-Poverty-Line by Household Type for Each Social Group 20
    • A1.9 Average MPCE of Rural Households Classified by Household Type, Social Group (in rupees) 1999–2000 21
    • A1.10 Literacy Rate of Scheduled Caste and Others 21
    • A1.11 Infant Mortality—1998–99 21
    • A1.12 Morbidity—1998–99 22
    • A1.13 Women's Health—1998–99 22
    • A1.14 Crimes and Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, 1981–2000 23
    • A1.15 Practice of Untouchability—Andhra Pradesh 23
    • A1.16 Social Discrimination: Orissa 24
    • A1.17 Economic Discrimination: Orissa 25
    • A1.18 Orissa, 1987–88 25
    • 4.1 Drop-out Rates of Tribal Students 72
    • 4.2 Enrolment Rates of Scheduled Tribes at Different Levels 72
    • 4.3 Pattern of Expenditure on Education Schemes 73
    • 4.4 Number of Beneficiaries for Different Schemes 74
    • 4.5 Pattern of Enrolment of Scheduled Tribes in Undergraduate and Postgraduate Courses 75
    • 4.6 Percentage of Scheduled Tribe Students Enrolled at Various Stages 76
    • 4.7 Impact of Reservations on Scheduled Tribes (STs) 76
    • 4.8 Work Participation of Scheduled Tribes, 1991–2001 77
    • 4.9 Performance of Schemes for Self Employment: Coverage of Scheduled Tribe Youth 78

    List of Figures

    • 3.1 The ‘Classical’ Representation of Sustainable Development with Its Three Pillars 51
    • 3.2 The International Conference of Thessaloniki (1947) Suggested the Position of Education as Basis of the Three Pillars 51
    • 3.3 The Tetrahedron of Sustainable Development as Evolution of Figure 3.2 52
    • 3.4 The Tetrahedron of Sustainable Development Where Governance is the Basis 52
    • 3.5 The Analysis of Governance and the Direct Connection between Democracy and Tolerance to Some of Its Components 53
    • 3.6 Components of Sustainable Development and the Means to Approach it (combination of Figure 3.4 and Figure 3.5) 54
    • 3.7 Implementing ESD through Relevant Perspectives 54


    We would like to thank Social Change for the permission to reprint Dr Anita Ghai's essay (Vol. 36, Number 3, September 2006). An earlier version of Dr Ravi Kumar's essay appeared in Social Change (Vol. 36, Number 3, September 2006). We would also thank The Bulletin of Oriental Philosophy, Japan, for the permission to reprint Dr M. Satish Kumar's essay ‘Reconciling Identity and Citizenship: A Case for Moral Cosmopolitanism in a Divided World’ (Vol. 22, 2006). We are grateful to Dr N. Balakrishnan, the deputy director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, India, for his encouragement and support for the conference ‘The Challenge to Globalization: Education for Tolerance, Democracy and Sustainable Development,’ which took place at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 20–22 January 2005, and resulted in the present volume of essays. Finally, we want to thank Professor Michael Hays for his insightful suggestions on this volume.


    AnastasiaNikolopoulou, FaridMirbagheri, and TaishaAbraham
    The Language of Universalism

    Two of the events that marked 1997 as an important year for education were the independent Earth Charter Commission and the Thessaloniki Declaration. After the 1992 Rio Summit failed to reach an agreement on how governments should protect the earth, the Commission undertook the task of drafting the Earth Charter, calling governments to commit themselves to the welfare of future generations: ‘Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life …. It is imperative that we, the people of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations’1. The significance of the Earth Charter rests on its bold use of a universal language that claims to embrace all, especially the marginalized and the poor. As Amartya Sen notes, the utopian connotations of this universal language can be traced 200 years back to its historical counterpart, the universal radicalism of the 1790s, when Mary Wollstonecraft's and Thomas Paine's writings, among others, triggered an unprecedented outpouring of populist fervour for emancipation of the oppressed—women, slaves, and workers: ‘It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world’ (Mary Wollstonecraft, 1996 quoted in Sen and Anand 1994). Even though this utopian universal language was soon superseded by nationalism, imperialism, and working class (male) emancipation rhetoric, it is doubtful that it ever disappeared. As Sen reminds us, the language of Wollstonecraft and Paine is actually a call for ‘human development’ (Sen and Anand 1994). Remarkably, this language returns now at the height of worldwide environmental and security crises to claim a universal emancipation as though it could, through its utopian trajectory, convince governments that only a moment separates the 1790s from the early 21st century and that we could turn the clock of modernity backwards and start anew a society whose priority is the happiness of all.

    The Thessaloniki Declaration, couched in a language similar to the Earth Charter's universalist rhetoric and drafted the same year the Earth Charter was created, was presented at the ‘International Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability’, organized by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Greece (December 1997).2 The Declaration places universalist language into the service of an educational imperative with demanding ethical aims. It is not governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or civil society that will be at the forefront of an alternative conceptualization of our relationship to modernity and the environment; only through ‘collective learning process[es]’ and ‘equal participation’ can we expect to instil among learners ‘[a] change in behaviours and lifestyles’. Education is an indispensable means to give to all women and men in the world the capacity to own their own lives, to exercise personal choice and responsibility, to learn throughout life without frontiers, be they geographical, political, cultural, religious, linguistic, or gender.

    The Declaration summons all educational forces, formal and non-formal, to put a stop to humanitarian crises:

    The reorientation of education as a whole towards sustainability involves all levels of formal, non-formal, and informal education in all countries. The concept of sustainability encompasses not only environment but also poverty, health, food security, democracy, human rights, and peace. Sustainability is, in the final analysis, a moral and ethical imperative in which cultural diversity and traditional knowledge need to be respected.3

    The Thessaloniki Declaration tried to unite two contesting discourses: the discourse of environmental education, especially as this had been defined in Tbilisi, in 1977, and the discourse of sustainable development, as was defined 10 years later in the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future (The World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).

    Taking the notion of environmental education out of its ‘outdoors’ and ‘nature’ context and uniting it with the notion of sustainable development was not an easy task. Since World War II, ‘sustainable development’ has been identified with economic progress. By placing the notion of sustainable development in the context of environmental education and a broader universalist discourse, the Thessaloniki Declaration succeeded, without detaching the definition from its previous economic connotation, in expanding sustainability's universalist, historical, and ethical dimensions. The Declaration proposed, in a sense, a new definition for sustainable development by linking it directly with education. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) could be addressed through economics, politics, and culture, despite epistemological and ideological differences.

    As a response to documents such as the Thessaloniki Declaration and the Earth Charter, we decided to plan a conference ‘The Challenge to Globalization: Education for Tolerance, Democracy and Sustainable Development’. We found these documents to be challenging, yet remote from the current realities of tertiary education, with its insular view of research and growing emphasis on corporate-oriented technology. After a series of meetings in Cyprus in 2003 and 2004, facilitated by Taisha's appointment as a visiting professor at the University of Cyprus, in Nicosia, we three agreed to organize a conference on education and sustainable development in Delhi.

    In January 2005, ‘The Challenge to Globalization: Education for Tolerance, Democracy and Sustainable Development’ was held at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, in New Delhi, India, under the encouragement of its Deputy Director, Dr Balakrishnan, who hosted the conference. Through Taisha's resourceful energy we were able to attract scholars and activists from diverse disciplines, in the hope of generating a discourse to tackle the problem of education and sustainable development from multiple disciplinary perspectives. This conference resulted in the present volume of revised essays as well as a growing awareness of the necessity to continue similar initiatives in Delhi and in other areas in the world4 and to give educators and activists opportunities to address sustainable development from multiple disciplinary and institutional perspectives.

    In the same year, the United Nations declared the beginning of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD 2005–14). The website of UNESCO emphasizes the integrative character of DESD:

    The overall goal of the DESD is to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. This educational effort will encourage changes in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations.5

    The DESD announcement seemed to signal that. At last, the moment had arrived for an international organization such as UNESCO to put the utopian universalism and holistic philosophy of the Thessaloniki Declaration and the Earth Charter into practice or at least to call on governments to make this reality palpable by placing educational reform at the forefront of their agendas.

    The DESD also promises that a new beginning may yet be possible, despite the criticism that UNESCO-sponsored conferences fail to deliver. The World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien (1990), for example, has been criticized for leading the Indian government to further lower the status of the teacher, marginalizing the role of women's education and offering no substantial opportunities for educating poor children. Jomtien and the Dakar Framework (2000), argues Anil Sadgopal, offer evidence of how market forces, while claiming to promote literacy skills, in effect reserve ‘critical thinking, creativity, scientific temper, analytical abilities, sense of history or philosophy, aesthetic appreciation and other such educational attributes…for the privileged few’ (Sadgopal 2003: 6). The implications for education for sustainable development necessitate a careful reconsideration of how globalization and the commodification of education put pressure on international conferences and hinder them from fulfilling their promises. As Krishna Kumar states, globalization has brought previous theories of education under enormous stress, rendering questions of equality, ‘dignity of individuals, and room for social justice exceedingly difficult to handle’ since for many, education in a globalized society signifies a desperate means to find a job in a competitive market' (Kumar 2005: 7).

    Konai Thaman, UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education and Culture at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands, singles out three areas in which UNESCO and other organizations need to work hard if they want to salvage trust and faith in educational initiatives, especially in regions where empowering educational practices are most urgently needed. International initiatives, Thaman argues, will fail if (a) they don't operate in the language of the culture they address, (b) they don't disassociate themselves from the cultures and languages of colonial and imperialist traditions, and (c) they downplay regional and local memories and traditions (Thaman 2002: 236).

    Culture, language, memory—these three threads hold the key, argues Thaman, in bridging the internationalist discourse of sustainable development with cultural difference, preserving the latter's distinct identity. Neither the reduction of poverty nor human rights can be achieved when one turns his or her back on the cultural, linguistic, and historical specificities that comprise the memory and daily experiences of people in the world. To ignore the cultural and historical specificities of a region, village, or ethnic community would mean that education for sustainable development is just a pretext to further marginalize and disempower the poor by robbing them first of their identity and then of their resources.

    Sen suggests that although the ‘demand for sustainability’ is, in fact, ‘a particular reflection of universality of claims—applied to the future generations vis-à-vis us’, it is important that ‘in trying to prevent deprivation in the future we must not ignore the deprived people of today’(Sen and Anand 1994).

    The Economics of Nature

    Kevin Watkins and Riccardo Petrella point out the dismal prospects of international conferences and their inflated (in their view) promises to radically reduce illiteracy and poverty in the world. Since the 1970s, it has become apparent that the goals of international conferences such as Dakar (2000), Jomtien (1990), Rio (1992) and Tbilisi (1977) are unreachable. Watkins notes that there is little evidence that by 2015 governments will achieve the goal they set at the World Education Forum (2000: 2) in Dakar, Senegal, to reduce the number of illiterate people in the world (Watkins 2000: 2). Petrella further argues that the treaty signed by governments in the Johannesburg summit in 2002 to halve the number of extremely poor people by the year 2015 (the 1.3 billion living on less than US$ 1 per day) is simplistic and couched in deceptive calculations (Petrella 2003: 133).

    What are the obstacles to achieving these goals? Is it, as Joseph Stiglitz suggests, a question of changing the mind-set of finance ministers and central bank governors, in whose hands many decisions of these international conferences arrive in the hopes of funding and further implementation. (Stiglitz 2002: 225)? Initiatives such as Education for All (Jomtien 1990) must also include the re-education of the holders of power, finance ministers, and governors towards developing a holistic vision. Such initiatives can further counter the desensitization process whereby the learner gets used to looking at poverty through abstract data and statistics without a sense of ethical obligation. Isn't our current global financial system proof of how past educational traditions placed profit above value creation?

    The educational system of wealthy nations does not suffer only from leaving millions of children without basic education and literacy skills, thus condemning them to a life of poverty; this educational system is itself suffering from a poverty of thought.

    The current education system, with its emphasis on scientific-technocratic advances in particular, is at the centre of our inability to grasp the whole. The technocratic mentality of the prevailing educational philosophy borrows from the need after World War II to promote economic achievements, something that led many to assume that by becoming experts in the narrow disciplines they serve, they would be able to grasp the whole. For the sake of scientific progress, tertiary education in particular became preoccupied with a disciplinary mentality leading to spatial claims and an explosion of specialization. This has given rise to 8,530 different disciplines, according to the UNESCO Symposium organized by the Division of Philosophy and Ethics in 1998, ‘Transdisciplinarity: Stimulating Synergies, Integrating Knowledge’ (UNESCO 1998). Daisaku Ikeda (2001) notes that while this emphasis on expertise has produced impressive results in the physical realm, it has also ‘created a condition in which the cords that once connected individual to individual, to say nothing of individual and nature, have been severed. Individuals groan in the small, enclosed, and lonely space to which they have been driven’ (Ikeda 2001: 127).

    Surely not all scientific thinking has evolved along these lines; yet it seems that the quantification and codification of poverty and disease is representative of a mode of thinking that, as Spariosu argues, is hierarchical and reductionistic rather than interactive and reciprocal. The technoscientific reduction of poverty to numbers and statistics, which prevails in tertiary, research-oriented institutions in particular, and emerges in international conferences, is an example. Numerical and statistical approaches to poverty, suggests Petrella (2003: 133), are not necessarily sending a clear message as to the need to re-examine our policies of sustainable development. For example, he points out that halving the 1.3 billion of extremely poor people ‘means that it is acknowledged that there will still be 650 million extremely poor people in 2014 living on less than $1 per day’. He further concludes that by 2015, the estimate of those who live with less than US$ 2 or US$ 1 will reach a total of 3 billion and 50 million, respectively.

    The extent of these staggering figures may be difficult to grasp because the poor seem to exist in a place remote from the daily experiences of wealthy nations. Surely, it is not the fault of the techno-scientific discourse bringing about a singular preoccupation with commercial and financial interests as opposed to caring about the environment and the poor. Yet the techno-scientific discourse, when cut off from the learner's sense of value and capacity for grasping the notion of sustainability holistically, is insufficient to conceptualize alternative communities of learning and living. Ikeda points out this problem through an example that might strike closer to home for those living in wealthy nations:

    The fact is that nearly 24,000 people die every day because of extreme poverty and the resulting lack of access to nutrition, clean drinking water, and basic medical care. The next hour will claim another 1,000 lives. To make a stark comparison, this toll is the equivalent of a passenger jet carrying 500 people crashing every 30 minutes. And in this case, three of four of the victim ‘passengers’ are children aged five or under. (Ikeda 2006)

    What Ikeda suggests with the example of the passenger jet crashing every 30 minutes is not that indices and statistical tables hinder our capacity to grasp the problem of poverty in its entirety. He means that these indices are not sufficient if they do not incorporate the perspective of value creation, but are simply read as abstract data. What these numbers do not address is the human being's tendency to use nature as a means for personal profit rather than as a resource that we all share with future generations. Nor do they address the need to change our personal lifestyles, learning habits, and systems.

    Since World War II, the idea of development has become equated with the idea of economic advancement, not equal distribution of economic resources. The notions of wealth and nature have, however, a much older relationship. Since the late 17th century, the idea of ‘wealth’ has implied economic as well as personal improvement. At the same time, the idea of ‘nature’ as ‘natural history’ provided a historical and ideological ground on which the middle class claimed its prerogative to assume a leading sociopolitical role, disregarding earlier beliefs in the divine right of kings. For the nascent bourgeoisie, moral and individual improvement went along with economic improvement, strengthening the belief that capitalism would activate the benign proclivities of individuals while suppressing their malignant ones. Such were the views of the cultural defenders of early capitalism such as Montesquieu and James Steurt, as Sen (2001) points out.

    The historicity of sustainable development needs to be understood further within the context of the articulation of value in the discourses of wealth and nature in the 17th century. Both of these discourses assumed their authority not by translating value for humanity's benefit but by translating (and transforming) nature into wealth (for example, metal to merchandise), servicing, in turn, theoretical and political aims. Michel Foucault (1970: 206, 255), who analyzes the linguistic emergence of these discourses in The Order of Things, focuses on the preoccupation of economists and natural historians with establishing the authority and mastery of their objects of inquiry by breaking down their components into their minutest detail: from ‘genera, families, sub-kingdoms’ to flow of money, rising and falling prices, growing or diminishing production. The linguistic codification and structuring of natural history and the discourse of wealth—through highly rigid, stratified, and taxonomic ways of analysis—reduced them into principles and facts, leaving out questions that ‘spontaneous’ (‘everyday’ language) might include, such as issues pertaining to social justice or ethics. As natural history and wealth depended upon ideas coded in a well tabulated space, their use for the service of humanity was taken for granted: ‘Natural history, since it must of necessity be a science, and the circulation of wealth, since it is an institution created by men and also controlled by them, are bound to escape the perils inherent in spontaneous language’ (Foucault 1970: 204). Any other language, notes Foucault, would render both of these discourses vulnerable to the ‘perils’ of a language open to diverse social, ethical, and political questions. To safeguard its authority, the language of wealth and nature had to be ‘exact and definite’ through ‘structure and character, value, and money’: ‘Where the disordered order of language implies the continuous relation to an art and its endless tasks, the orders of nature and wealth are expressed in the mere existence of structure and character, value, and money’ (ibid.: 204–05).

    What is of interest in this historical convergence between the two discourses of ‘natural history’ and ‘wealth’ is that they both emerged as scientific discourses. One could not speak about them ambiguously, spontaneously, or from personal experience. Their validity was exemplified in the linguistic codification and structuring of their objects of inquiry. Both developed highly rigid, stratified, and taxonomic ways of analysis, reducing their findings into principles and facts. By drawing on Foucault, we offer a glance at the epistemological, historical, and ideological complexities of the notions of economics and nature, notions that became central in the formation of modern Western subjectivities. The 18th century approaches to wealth and nature aspired towards the emergence of the beneficent and moral person of fortune who shares the greater part of his revenue with others. Yet, as Adam Smith was prone to diagnose, the case was often that the person would spend ‘the whole upon his own person’ and give nothing to the other (Smith 1993: 212). The celebration of industrialization and technology as the ultimate revolution in learning and well-being solidified further modern desire and consumer-oriented subjectivities, while privileging even further the domain of science research in education.

    However, the discourse of the economics of nature is not impenetrable and invincible. Since its emergence in the 17th and 18th centuries, it has been threatened from several fronts. The first time was during the late part of the 18th century when experience, personal narrative, and a utopian universalism dominated the radical public sphere for almost 40 years (1790–1830). Anticipated by the universalist language of Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Paine, and others, the late 18th century public sphere, as Sen notes, was open to all, ‘irrespective of class, gender, race, community, or generationy. Like ours’, the world of the 1790s was characterized by ‘enormous inequities of contemporary living conditions and real threats to the prospects of human life in the future’ (Sen and Anand 1994).

    Since the late 18th century, the scientific-industrial establishment has been challenged on several occasions, not the least being from within its own ranks (Spariosu 2005: 103). Has the time come to place science at the forefront of humanitarian concerns? Scientists must ask themselves what connection their learning has with the challenges that threaten humankind, argues Daisaku Ikeda (2001: 129). Certainly, many academicians resist being influenced by other-than-scientific imperatives, particularly those related to military and economic power. But while some academicians warn of the effects of chemical industry on human health or oppose a value-free education, there are still many academicians and institutions linked to potentially biased affiliations with large private pharmaceutical, chemical, and agri-food companies (Petrella 2003: 127–30). Market-driven scientific knowledge, claims Anil Sadgopal, lacks a ‘critical and holistic epistemo-logical relationship with social reality’ While its tendency to control nature and maximize profits rather than to ‘co-exist with nature’ renders it a threat to human welfare (Sadgopal 2004: 8).

    Education for sustainable development necessitates an ethical struggle to transform knowledge into what Ikeda calls a ‘propelling force for an eternally unfolding humanitarian quest’ (Ikeda 2001: 99). ‘This ethical struggle’ has now taken on an ever greater urgency, notes Petrella. ‘Academics must therefore exercise their responsibility in a forceful, clear, and uncompromising manner’ in the areas of war and injustice (Petrella 2003: 132). To disconnect its interests from private enterprise, financial capital, and world markets, higher education must reformulate a discourse that goes against a ‘denuded, aseptic’ philosophy and instead links knowledge to the fate of humankind. The calls of the Earth Charter and the Thessaloniki Conference for an ethical imperative that implies respect ‘for cultural diversity and traditional knowledge’ mark a breakthrough in the economistic discursive tradition of nature and wealth (The Thessaloniki Declaration 2002). Surely they are not the only discourses that attempt to de-regulate the historically reductionist discourse of the economics of nature. They are important because they have been sanctioned by international governments and NGOs, thus signaling that Western traditions of the economics of nature might be ready for a change.

    If maintained, this change in looking at economics, nature, and profit from a broader ethical framework could provide an unparalleled and historic opportunity for empowering people to take concrete action and resolve the issues they face (Ikeda 2001: 127). According to Masao Miyoshi (2001: 295), this is the first time in human history where ‘one single commonality involves all those living on the planet: environmental deterioration as a result of the human consumption of natural resources’. Education has now a common goal: ‘to nurture our common bonds to the planet’ (ibid: 295).

    The Politics of Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development is no longer only an attractive project to the developing world. It is now a necessity for the whole of humanity, including the advanced societies of the West. The holistic and inclusive nature of sustainable development encompasses a wide range of issues as interconnected parts of a whole and addresses the entire population of the globe rather than the conventional differentiating state-centric model. The pressing question of the environment, for example, and the serious challenges it poses require a cosmopolitan outlook and international solutions beyond the requirements of the current statist model.

    The conception and the establishment of the state over three and a half centuries ago in a continent ravaged by religious wars was an answer to a specific set of problems peculiar to that time and geography. It is hardly reasonable to assume that it can provide solutions to the question of governance everywhere, all of the time. Today, the most challenging threat to world peace, religious fundamentalist terrorism, can no longer be met by the state. Civilizational worldviews and not national outlooks, though over-simplifying in some respects, are increasingly more able to explain mindless violence committed by non-state actors internationally.

    State policies are axiomatically and philosophically shaped by concern for national interests where pedantic rationality forms the core criterion of policy making. In an era, however, when the interests of all communities are evidently interconnected, humanity as a whole and its constituent parts can only benefit from a holistic outlook pursuing international interests. The questions of environment, terrorism, drugs, migration, and so on can no longer be viewed as national or even regional concerns alone. They are international problems requiring international solutions, a task for which the state is ill-equipped. Its particularistic and pedantic trait, fundamental to its very existence, prohibits or at least limits states' capacity to engage in all-inclusive, non-discriminatory approaches to international life. Sustainable development is no exception. As an issue that requires a cosmopolitan approach and international cooperation, it needs dialogic communities committed to a global outlook and not infused with indifference or even hostility towards one another brought about by statehood.

    However, we may be a long way from a stateless world, where an alternative and more inclusive system of governance would replace sovereign statehood. Such a fundamental shift in political life and radical change in the status quo, would, in all probability, not arrive anytime soon or easily. In the meantime, sustainable development cannot be put on hold. We have to strive for the best we can achieve in the present conditions and under the rule of the sovereign state. Greater efforts would therefore have to be made to converge the local and the global; that would mean what is deemed to be in the national interest of the state should also be assessed in terms of international interests of humanity as a whole. In that endeavour we can be aided by some aspects of globalization, where the sharp edges of statehood are gradually eroded and a better harmony between the micro and the macro is brought about. However, the harmonization of the local and the global through globalization should not be achieved at the expense of the local. Diversity should not be sacrificed but preserved and in fact celebrated. Minimizing cultural differences in the world in order to boost financial benefits, that is, increase the relative gap between the rich and the poor, would not only not assist sustainable development but is in fact harmful to the cause. Thus, more investment in the developing world, greater transparency in financial transactions, more egalitarian approach to human communities, applying free market rules to agriculture, narrowing the gap between realist foreign and liberal domestic approaches, and promoting tolerance can be emphasized whilst the marginalization of the majority of humanity, based solely on insufficient purchasing power, should be avoided. The poor of the 21st century know what they are missing and are aware how some of those riches were compiled. They are cognizant of the exploitation that they and their land were subjected to for the prosperity that has now befallen a minority in the human community.

    However, there is also a serious need to engage the younger generations, particularly in the Islamic communities, in a culture of tolerance. The nature and the scale of violence committed, or the threat of its use, against innocent civilians are symptomatic of indoctrination by intolerant ideologies based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the faith. Although socio-political factors cannot be discarded altogether, the greater part of the cause must lie in the exposure of young fertile minds to terrorist propaganda. In that sense alone sustainable development faces a formidable challenge. Development cannot be based upon monopoly of understanding as is practiced by fundamentalist groups. Combating this ideology is not a military operation but rather a cultural affair. International cultural institutions such as UNESCO should take it upon themselves to promote policies that encourage tolerance of difference. As a suggestion perhaps some passages of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to basic freedoms can be posted on the first page of every school textbook throughout the world. That could be a simple but effective way of exposing young minds, throughout their primary and secondary education, to the importance of respecting the other(s).

    The world cannot continue along the path it is currently treading. Environmental pressures aside, the threat of terrorism, cultural intolerance, and the increasing frustration of the poor will lead to serious disruptions of global arrangements. There is a pressing need to engage the less well-off and the impoverished in world affairs, which would require in part some redistribution of the planet's resources and more equitable ways of addressing global issues. Those are the bedrock of sustainable development. In parallel, the younger members of the human race should be educated to respect one another. That respect can provide the basis for learning from and understanding one another and the world we live in. Failure can mean not just the continuation of the unjust status-quo but perhaps the decline and the possible demise of humanity altogether. Sustainable development therefore must be given every chance to succeed.

    Globalization and Sustainable Development

    The title of our volume, Education for Sustainable Development: Challenges, Strategies, and Practices in a Globalizing World merits some elaboration. It asks the reader to take the everyday issue of globalization and link it to the seemingly disparate issues of education for sustainable development. In what way do the challenges, strategies, and practices of the latter arise within and even depend on the ongoing phenomenon of globalization?

    Since the largely economic discourse of globalization has been foregrounded over its other variables, it is best to address this aspect of globalization first before linking it to the field of education. Globalization is seen as an epoch-defining phenomenon both in its descriptive and in its prescriptive aspects. In its descriptive aspect it is seen as the international flow of capital, investments, and technological developments. The Transnational Corporations (TNCs) along with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Economic Forum are the main organizational conduits of policing this new economic order in the interest of the Western powers. Through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) these organs streamline world economies to align them to the changing needs of the new economic order. In its prescriptive aspect the so-called ‘developmental’ paradigm of globalization (and this despite the fact that large constituencies of people have been marginalized by the new economic world order) is seen as inevitable rather than as contingent upon capitalism. What has to be noted is that ultimately financial pressures determine both the descriptive and prescriptive aspects of globalization.6

    Global capitalism under the guise of distribution (in which mass consumerism is encouraged) creates an ostensibly democratic space that diffuses any resistance to it. Since the neo-liberal politics of globalization has identified the field of education as an important site for its contestation, it has commodified education by offering commercial benefits and employment opportunities and luring the state into its economic vortex.

    Ravi Kumar in his essay, ‘Market, Deprivation, and Education in the Age of Globalization’ states that this has resulted in the shift from welfare to market models in education by the state in India. What is disturbing about this shift, as Kumar delineates, is that ‘when the purchasing capacity of the majority remains low, it becomes difficult to buy education and therefore the majority of Indians—poor, dalits and the girl child—are getting alienated from education’ (Kumar 2005: 106). He is critical of Amartya Sen's position on globalization where Sen states that one cannot ‘reverse the economic predicament of the poor across the world by withholding from them the great advantages of contemporary technology, the well established efficiency of international trade and exchange, and the social as well as economic merits of living in an open society’ (Sen 2002). Sen insists upon a balance between the market and the state in the form of multiple institutions in society that should reflect it. Kumar asks what if the state itself has succumbed to neo-liberal market politics of globalization. He points out that the very rule of capital, which is always exploiting surplus does not allow for a human face to globalization as Sen seems to indicate.

    One of the crucial points to note about globalization and its system of interdependencies (in which the West is always privileged) is that it creates responsive models of development in the developing nations. These responsive models basically adjust to the demands placed upon them by the West for which they get short-term spin-offs with its allied ripple effects in limited spheres, which becomes self-perpetuating. Given this fact, what may be useful is to make interventions through a renewed and stronger state into this responsive model of development. The idea is to maintain a high growth rate but with distributive justice and without surrendering democracy. This will open up an alternative system that will be socially inclusive of all.

    Interestingly, since the 1990s, education has been made into an international issue. (In 1990 the first Global Conference on Basic Education in Jomtien, Thailand, which universalized basic education, followed the first Child Rights Convention (1989).) However, the evaluation made by the Education For All (EFA) showed that although progress was made in the field of education, the marginalized were still left out. The Dakar 2000 framework of action focused on this disadvantaged group and the United Nations in its Millennium Development Goals interlinked basic education and poverty reduction (Govinda 2003).

    Sen's book, Development as Freedom, is in many ways an elaboration on this idea. In his book he argues that sustainable development should not see poverty in an economic context alone but also as ‘capability deprivation’. He states that in a country like India for an individual to exercise freedom to develop his/her capabilities, there are other constraining social factors such as illiteracy, caste, and physical disability—to name three among others—that affect the conversion rate of money. That is, even if individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds get a high income, social factors such as caste prevent them from gaining the benefits that others from non-disadvantaged groups get. Sen insists that although poverty as income and poverty as ‘capability deprivation’ are interrelated, it is important to distinguish between them. What the ‘capability’ perspective does, according to Sen is that it shifts from (economic) means to ends ‘that people have reason to pursue, and correspondingly, to the freedoms to be able to satisfy these ends’ (Sen 1999: 90). Sen liberates development from ‘pure’ economics to ‘impure’ social factors, which forces ‘ethical considerations’.

    Education and sustainable development are not merely concepts but are intervening tools as well. Sen shows the role of education in alleviating poverty and in sustaining development by foregrounding caste, class, region, gender, and other markers that act as ‘glass ceiling’ in the development of the marginalized.

    Interestingly, Sukhadeo Thorat in his chapter, ‘Caste Exclusion, and Marginalized Groups in India: Dalit Deprivation in India’ underscores the point made by Sen on poverty and development. He states that social discrimination of the lower castes and the untouchables deprives these communities of educational and employment opportunities resulting in ‘high levels of economic deprivation and poverty’. He insists that for education to be sustainable it has to be seen in conjunction with other developmental sectors such as health, sanitation, and so on. For him the discriminatory caste politics also influence ‘private economic market’ that is very competitive and searches for highly educated and skilled workers. This further perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

    For Thorat, reducing ‘economic discrimination’ can be a good starting point for uplifting the community. ‘Re-adjustment’ of employment avenues for the untouchables, who have been traditionally associated with ‘socially degrading’ jobs, can provide ‘optimal labour’ for market efficiency. He says that the failure of the market to accommodate the lower castes—even when they have been qualified—should be countered by interventions made by the state through affirmative action programmes, particularly in the field of education since the literacy rates are the lowest among the Dalits. Apart from better productive possibilities this will also eventually break the cycle of social injustices against the untouchables, and more importantly, ‘minimize the potential for conflict’ between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ that is rapidly widening within globalization.

    Anita Ghai extends the argument of social and economic ostracization to the issue of disablity in her chapter, ‘Education in a Globalizing Era: Implications for Disabled Girls’. In the face of the fiercely competitive market of global capitalism, where market models are privileged over welfare models run by the state, Ghai argues that there is a shift in power from the public domain of politics associated with the state to the private realm of economics. Since in market models only the most skilled and qualified get selected for educational benefits and employment opportunities, the disabled remain unskilled and unemployed. Arguing that disability cannot be seen as singular but as plural since it interfaces with caste, class, religion, and gender, Ghai advocates an inclusive system of education that does not marginalize differences.

    Shobha Sinha's chapter on ‘Literacy Instruction in Indian Schools’ hones in on cultural and social specificities in educational projects. She states that a distinction has to be made between literacy as a technical skill and literacy as something that is ‘embedded in a system of social functions and cultural processes’. She points out that although there is an increase in the rate of literates in the country (18.33 per cent to 64.8 per cent from 1951 to 2001 Census), in terms of absolute numbers keeping the increase in population in mind, there is no increase. This is further compounded by factors such as gender, caste, region, and disparity between urban-rural populations. Tracing the history of literacy teaching in India, Sinha argues that ‘poor pedagogy’ is largely responsible for a system that teaches ‘not to seek meaning while reading’. Quoting Paulo Freire, who saw education as a liberating tool rather than as a mechanical skill, Sinha says, one has to teach students to read the world and not just to read the word. It is being increasingly understood now that literacy has to be related to social learning. That is, ‘there is a need to recognize that there is not one literacy but many literacies’ (Diwan 2003: 304).

    Sadhna Saxena's essay, Empowering Pedagogy: Potentials and Limitations engages this issue. Her chapter discusses the experience of running a small pilot literacy programme Jan Shikshan Abhiyan in the late 1980s in 25 villages of Bankhedi block of Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh. This area had hardly any schools and even where there were schools, they were dysfunctional. Reading without comprehension was the most basic problem that the group encountered while conducting literacy classes in the region. This was mainly due to the fact that the sanskritized version of Hindi was privileged over the local language. This alienated the learner from his/her own local language and culture, which was seen as backward. Saxena argues that it is not linguistic ability that has created failure in the literacy programmes since most children by the age of five have ‘full command of the grammatical systems of their own language’. Rather it is the undervaluing of contextualized cultural readings that has done so. As Saxena states, ultimately it is the social context that moulds the content and pedagogical approaches have to take this factor into account.

    But these contextualized cultural readings should extend to other spheres of learning as well such as the portrayal of religious groups in history textbooks where an inclusive approach would reach out to the marginalized and the disadvantaged groups. Narayani Gupta's chapter, ‘Squaring National Pride with Tolerance: A lesson for School Textbooks’ talks about the kinds of challenges faced by the historian in writing history books in the context of South Asia. Given the various stages of the partition of the sub-continent, new problems of language, ethnicity, and religion were thrown up and history was re-written from biased perspectives by India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Gupta states that histories of the partitioned nations should be inclusive of the larger history of the sub-continent. This would forge ties for unity among its people across religious and cultural differences, and across borders.

    Teesta too argues that history as a subject has been used politically for sectarian ends in textbooks. In her chapter, ‘Indian School Textbooks’ she says most books on history reflect the ideological orientation of the ruling party. This includes the demonization of Muslims, the silence on India's partition, and a refusal to acknowledge the contribution of the Dalits, lower castes and tribes, and other minorities in official history. This is compounded by the hierarchical caste system in India. For Setalvad the equality project of democracy must include the rewriting of history of both pre- and post-independence India so that it is inclusive of India's different ‘life-worlds’.

    Underscoring the need for this holistic approach, Farid Mirbagheri in his chapter ‘Islam and Liberal Peace’ explains some key concepts of Islam against their media distortions. He distinguishes between two dominant schools of Islamic thinking: the Epistemic and the Jurisprudential in relation to the ‘Shari'a’ or the rules of Islam. If the first school is open to a pluralist and evolving human interpretation of the Quran within the changing historical and social contexts of human existence, the second sees God's words as perfect with the ‘clerical-hierarchy’ as the sole authority to hand down readings of the Quran; a reading immune to epistemology of knowledge. It is within these debates that Mirbagheri examines the links between Islam and liberal peace. He gives the example of the interpretation of ‘Jihad’ as indicative of the debates. The term ‘Jihad’ Mirbagheri states means ‘struggle’ in Islam. Since the Jurisprudential School in Islam sees peace more as an external condition, which may require the use of violence, Jihad is linked by this school to armed conflict. This is the lesser struggle, explains Mirbagheri. The greater struggle in ‘Jihad’ refers to the struggle within each individual to obtain peace, which is what the Epistemic School upholds.

    Contrasting Kantian and Hobbesian notions of peace as man-made and rational for security and development, with the Islamic notion of peace, as divine, Mirbagheri foregrounds the more inclusive approach in Islam towards peace. He explains that the word Islam means ‘surrender’, and the surrender is to God for peace. It is only when there is peace that human development can take place.

    Michael J. Scoullos in his chapter, ‘Education for Sustainable Development: The Concept and Its Connection to Tolerance and Democracy’ argues that when we speak of education for sustainable development we have to take into account Environmental Education (EE) with all its cultural and regional challenges by negotiating between the local and the global. This is where the role of tolerance comes in. Tracing the history of the concept of environmental education from the 1960s, Scoullos points out the changing strategies adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in order to make the concept a reality not only for the member states but also beyond them to other states as well. The thrust of the UNECE Scoullos states is for an inclusive framework. The prerequisite for any economic development is to create an awareness of preserving natural resources and environment protection.

    Archana Prasad in her chapter ‘Education for Sustainable Tribal Development’ illustrates the need for such an approach. She traces historically the various educational and development projects started for the tribals in India. She states that educational projects in the tribal region have ignored the connection of the tribal people with their natural resources. This has resulted in uneven development. Although after India's independence the state played a crucial role in the development of the region, with privatization and the withdrawal of the state from agriculture and social welfare the impact on the community has been disastrous. Prasad states that globalization continues to do what colonialism had done earlier by divesting the tribal people from their ‘rights to natural resources’ and offering them an education that is not culturally or socially specific to their regional needs.

    Janet Chawla's chapter, ‘Premodern Indigenous Practitioners' Dilemmas in a Postmodern Globalized World’ exemplifies the point by discussing the need to negotiate between indigenous knowledge forms and modern medicalization in the context of midwifery and childbirth in the Indian subcontinent. Basing her findings on the research of MATRIKA (an NGO that documents and interprets traditional midwifery), she argues that the assumption that western medicine with its scientific basis is better than ‘indigenous, culturally appropriate, affordable and sustainable’ ethno medicines leaves many poor people outside the ambit of any kind of medical assistance. Mediating between the ethno medical and the biomedical is important in preserving cultural resources for sustainable development.

    The shift from learning as skill to learning as practice is the thrust of Neelakanta Radhakrishnan in his chapter, ‘Global Ethical Options in the Framework of Development—Gandhian Perspectives’. In it he draws upon Gandhi's ideas on education for life knowledge. He argues how Gandhi's Nai Talim (New Education), which had the village children as its primary subjects, stressed on the holistic development of the body, mind, and soul. In this new educational endeavour, where manual and vocational training would be combined with knowledge of various subjects, both parents and teachers would have an important role to play. This would act as an effective antidote to the influence of the media where commercial values are propagated and it would also create an ethical framework within globalization to undermine its dehumanizing drives.

    It is the need for a moral vision and an ethical dimension to education that M. Satish Kumar also focuses on in his essay, ‘Reconciling Identity and Citizenship: A Case for Moral Cosmopolitanism in a Divided World’. He says in today's globalized world an overemphasis on science and technology as instruments that search for truth has de-humanized people. He underscores Daisaku Ikeda's ideas that good education leads to true humanity. Kumar locates his argument within the current debate on identity and citizenship that informs today's world. Globalization, he states, has fractured identities along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, and other such markers. Negotiating between the positions taken by the communitarian and liberal thinkers in which the former talk of the individual in relation to the community, and the latter talk of the importance of the individual's sovereignty and freedom with the state as its arbiter, he offers the de-politicized notion of ‘civic republicanism’ in which the individual can retain his/her identity and yet connect with people across class, race, and religion towards a global citizenship and without the impeding presence of the state. The ‘moral scope’ of this form of citizenship is vast since it combines individual goals with the larger good of all humanity. When such a paradigm of value-based development and growth is transferred into the realm of education, Kumar states, the returns are invaluable.


    1. The Earth Charter was created during the late 1980s and its manifesto was completed in 2000 under the auspices of the United Nations. It has been endorsed by organizations representing millions of people. Its aims are to promote ‘a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations’. The final text was aproved by UNESCO in 2000. The text is available on the Earth Charter website in 77 languages. Available online at

    2. For the Thessaloniki Conference see also the essay in this volume by Michael J. Scoullos, who was the principal coordinator of the Thessaloniki Conference.

    3. The Thessaloniki Declaration was drafted in December 1997, during an international conference held in Thessaloniki, Greece, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Tbilisi Doctrine and to reorient education for sustainability in the 21st century. The conference was attended by participants from governmental, intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the civil society at large from 85 countries. The International Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability was organized by UNESCO and the government of Greece, from 8 to 12 December 1997. The culmination of this event was the Thessaloniki Declaration—a charter for the future of education for sustainability (

    4. The second conference on education and sustainable development took place at the university of Cyprus, 15–18 November 2007. The conference, sponsored by UNESCO and the University of Cyprus, focused on the Mediterranean. The Education for All movement was launched by UNESCO at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien in 1990. 155 countries and 150 organizations pledged to provide education for all by 2000 and signed the World Declaration on Education for All.

    5. See UNESCO, Education for Sustainable development, United Nations Decade (2005–14), ‘Objectives’. Available online at

    6. For an overview of the various aspects of globalization see Dower and Williams 2002 and Scholte 2000.

    Diwan, Rashmi. 2003. ‘Learning for Sustainable Development: The Global Challenge and Opportunities for India’, Compiled by JosephineYazali. Globalization and Challenges for Education: Focus on Equity and Equality NIEPA. Delhi: Shipra.
    Dower, Nigel and JohnWilliams (eds). 2002. Global Citizenship: A Critical Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh, UP.
    Foucault, Michel. 1970. The Order of Things. New York: Vintage.
    Govinda, R.2003. ‘Basic Education. Making it Work for the Poor. Experiences from the South’, Compiled by JosephineYazali. Globalization and Challenges for Education: Focus on Equity and Equality NIEPA. Delhi: Shipra.
    Ikeda, Daisaku. 2001. Soka Education. Santa Monica: Middleway Press.
    Ikeda, Daisaku. 2002. ‘The Challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future’. Available online at (accessed on 7 April 2003).
    Ikeda, Daisaku. 2004. ‘Inner Transformation: Creating a Global GroundswellforPeace’. Available online at (accessed on 5 September 2005).
    Ikeda, Daisaku. 2006. ‘Extreme Poverty: The Gravest Violation of Human Rights’. The Japan Times, 14 December. Available online at (accessed on 25 August 2009).
    Kumar, Krishna. 2005. ‘Quality of Education at the Beginning of the 21st Century—Lessons from India’, Indian Educational Review, 41(1): 1–24. UNESCO doc.2005/ED/EFA/MRT/PI/24. Available online at (accessed on 18 May 2007).
    MiyoshiMasao. 2001. ‘Literature, Diversity, and Totality. Return to the Planet’, Comparative Literature, 53, Autumn (4): 283–97.
    Petrella, Riccardo. 2003. ‘The Global Knowledge Wall’, in GillesBreton and MichaelLambert (eds), In Universities and Globalization: Private Linkages, Public Trust, pp. 127–35. Laval: Universite Laval/UNESCO.
    Sadgopal, Anil. 2003. ‘Education for Too Few’, Frontline, 20(24). Available online at (accessed on 28 May 2007).
    Sadgopal, Anil. 2004. ‘Globalisation and Education. Resisting Appropriation and Distortion of Knowledge’, The People's Movement, (May-June). Available online at (accessed on 25 May 2007).
    Scholte, Jan Aart. 2000. Globalization: A Critical Introduction. New York: St Martin's Press, 2000.
    Scoullos, Michael. 2004. ‘Evolution and Progress in Key Issues of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)’, Soka Gakkai Quarterly, No. 38, p. 11.
    Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Sen, Amartya. 2001. ‘Culture and Development,’ World Bank Tokyo Meeting, 13 December. Available online at (accessed on 25 May 2007).
    Sen, Amartya. 2002. ‘How to Judge Globalism’, The American Prospect, 13(1) January 1–14. Available online at (downloaded on 21 June 2006). Cited in Ravi Kumar.
    Sen, Amartya and SudairAnand. 1994. ‘Sustainable Human Development: Concepts and Priorities’, Occasional Paper no. 9, pp. 6–10, Human Development Report Office, UNDP, New york. Available online at (accessed on 21 May 2007).
    Smith, Adam. 1993. Wealth of Nations. Book II, Chapter III, World Classics edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Spariosu, Mihai. 2005. Global Intelligence and Human Development. Towards an Ecology of Global Learning. Cambridge: MIT Press.
    Stiglitz, Joseph. 2002. Globalization and Its Discontents. New Delhi: Penguin.
    Thaman KonaiH.2002. 'Shifting Sights. The Cultural Challenge of Sustainability, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 3(3): 233–42.
    The Earth Charter, ‘The Earth Charter Initiative’. Available online at
    The Thessaloniki Declaration. 2002. Available online at on 31 December 2002).
    The World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    UNESCO. ‘Education for Sustainable Development, United Nations Decade (2005–2014), “Objectives”’. Available online at
    UNESCO. 1998. ‘Transdisciplinarity. Stimulating Synergies, Integrating Knowledge’, Division of Philosophy and Ethics, UNESCO. Available online at (accessed on 3 January 2007).
    Watkins, Kevin. 2000. The Oxfam Report. London: Oxfam.
    Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1796. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. p. 156. London: J Johnson.
  • About the Editors and Contributors


    Anastasia Nikolopoulou is currently the Dean of the School of Humanities and an associate professor in the Department of English Studies at the University of Cyprus, where she teaches courses in theatre and cultural studies. She received her Ph.D from Cornell University. She co-edited (with Michael Hays), Melodrama: The Cultural Emergence of a Genre (St Martin's Press, 1996, 1999) and (with Savas Patsalides) Melodrama: Ideological and Aesthetic Transformations (University Studio Press, in Greek, 2001). In addition to her ongoing research on 19th-century theatre and culture, she has a growing interest in matters related to education and issues of peace, particularly in the ideas of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Daisaku Ikeda—whose work she has reviewed in the Greek-Cypriot Press. She is the recipient of two UNESCO Participation Program Awards (2007 and 2009) that enabled her to organize interconnected conferences on education for sustainable development in Cyprus.

    Taisha Abraham is an associate Professor, Delhi University. She received her Ph.D from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her publications include a critical edition of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (2008), Introducing Postcolonial Theories: Issues and Debates (2007), Women and the Politics of Violence (edited, 2002), Feminist Theory and Modern Drama (edited, 1998), and Female Empowerment: Impact of Literacy in Jaipur District of Rajasthan (co-authored, 1995). She is at present the general editor of Shakti series that focus on global issues and women in South Asia.

    Farid Mirbagheri completed his secondary and tertiary education in the UK. He graduated in International Relations from Keele University, England, where he also earned his Ph.D in the same field. He currently holds the Dialogue Chair in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Nicosia. Editor of the Cyprus Review, an internationally refereed journal by the University of Nicosia and the University of Indianapolis for seven years, he now serves on its advisory board. He is also an associate editor of Global Dialogue. He has written Cyprus and International Peacemaking (UK: Hurst & Co and USA: Routledge, 1998). His other publications Historical Dictionary of Cyprus (Scarecrow Press) and War & Peace in Islam (Palgrave) are due out in 2009 and 2010 respectively.


    Janet Chawla graduated from the University of California, Riverside, and earned a Masters of Theology degree with the Jesuits at Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious Studies in Delhi. She initiated and taught ‘Gendering God: The Goddess in the Indian Traditions’ at that institution. Janet taught natural childbirth classes in Delhi from 1980–95. As an activist, health educator, researcher, and founder-director of the NGO, MATRIKA, she has introduced a religio-cultural perspective to work on dais. She has written numerous articles for the popular press, scholarly journals, and contributed to academic collections. Her edited collection, Birth and Birthgivers: The Power behind the Shame focuses on birth in India. MATRIKA's website ( details their research and cultural aspects of birth.

    Anita Ghai teaches at the Department of Psychology (Jesus and Mary College) in New Delhi, India. She researches in the area of disability focusing especially on education, health, sexuality, and gender. She is the author of (Dis) Embodied Form: Issues of Disabled Women (New Delhi: Haranand, 2003/2006); The Mentally Handicapped: Prediction of Work Performance (with Anima Sen, New Delhi: Phoenix, 1996). She is on the editorial board of Disability and Society (Routledge); Disability Studies Quarterly (Society for Disability Studies); Disability, Education and Culture(Sage); and Scandinavian Journal of Disability (Routledge). Her distinctions include a U.G.C (University Grant Commission) deputation as a teacher fellow and career award from Indraprastha College (2000). She was appointed by The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability, Government of India, to be a member of the local guardian committee for south-west Delhi. She has been recently elected as a President of Indian Association for Women Studies (IAWS).

    Narayani Gupta retired in 2004 from the Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She was a visiting faculty, teaching the history of architecture at TVB School of Habitat Studies, New Delhi, 1991–94. Gupta is a founder-member of the Conservation Society of Delhi, 1982, and a member of the Delhi Urban Art Commission (2005–08). She is on the Editorial Board of Planning Perspectives (Birmingham), Urban History (Cambridge), and The Book Review (Delhi). Gupta was the chairperson of the team that prepared Social Science textbooks for Classes 3–8 for government schools in Delhi (2003–04) and of the group that prepared a new curriculum and textbooks of history for the national-level NCERT (National Council of Education Research and Training) (2005). Her publications include Delhi Between Two Empires, 1803–1931 (1981), an edited version of T.G.P. Spear's Delhi, Its History and Its Monuments (1997), and articles on Indian urban history and architectural conservation.

    Ravi Kumar works as assistant professor at Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He completed his Master of Philosophy on ‘Modernity and its Critics: An Analysis of Select Texts of Gandhi, Marcuse and Foucault’ and his Doctorate on ‘Dynamics of Identity Formation: The Political Economy of Backward Castes in Bihar.’ His publications include Global Neoliberalism and Education and its Consequences, (co-edited, Routledge, The Crisis of Elementary Education in India (Sage Publications, 2006), and The Politics of Imperialism and Counterstrategies (Aakar Books, 2004). His other work includes a volume on status of untouchability in Bihar entitled Dahleej Tak… Gawain Bihar Mein Chuachut par Taaza Adhyan (Hindi, 2005). His areas of interest include identity politics, sociology of education, and political sociology. He is also an editor of the web journal Radical Notes (

    M. Satish Kumar is the Director, India Initiative at Queen's University Belfast. He is based at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology. He previously taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and University of Cambridge, UK. He was the recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Fellowship to Cambridge and was awarded the Bhoovigyan (Earth Scientist) National Leadership Award for contributions to Population, Environment & Development Studies (India, 2002). His research focuses on colonial and postcolonial spaces in India. He has edited two books, Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies of India, with S. Raju, and S. Corbridge, Sage Publications, (2006), and Globalisation and North East India: Some Developmental Issues (eds) A. Dubey, M. Satish Kumar, N. Srivastava, and Eugene Thomas, Standard Press, New Delhi (2007). He has contributed to national and international academic books and journals in India, UK, and Japan.

    Archana Prasad is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Jawaharalal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is the author of Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-Modern Tribal Identity (Three Essays Collective, 2003), Environmentalism and the Left: Contemporary Debates and Future Agendas in Tribal Areas (LeftWord, 2004), and has edited a collection Environment, Development and Society in Contemporary India: An Introduction (Macmillan, 2008). She finished her doctorate from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in 1994, and was a Rockfeller Fellow at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University, untill 1996. She has been actively involved in the People's Science Movement and the women's movement. She is a member of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and played an active role in the campaign for passing the Forest Rights Bill. She has been working on contemporary tribal issues, biodiversity management, and the impact of Hindutva politics and neo-liberal globalization on tribal people. She has several popular and academic articles on these subjects.

    Neelakanta Radhakrishnan is Hon. Ambassador, Soka University of America; Professor Emeritus at the Jain Viswabharati University (Ladnum in Rajastan); Secretary-General of the Indian Council for Gandhian Studies; Founder and Chairman, G. Ramachandran Institute of Nonviolence; Missionaries of Nonviolence Foundation India; Violence-free Society Campaign; Gandhi Media Centre; Centre for Development Education and Ikeda Center for value Creation in Trivandrum, Kerala. For over 20 years he was associated with Gandhigram Rural University. He has been a visiting professor at more than 20 universities and institutions around the world. His books include Gandhi and Youth: The Shanti Sena of GRI; Gandhian Perspectives to Religious Intolerance; Gandhi: Quest for Tolerance and Survival; Gandhi and Global Nonviolent Transformation; Gandhi and the Challenges of the 21st Century; Ikeda Sensei: The Triumph of Mentor-Disciple Spirit; and Gandhian Perspectives on Education. He is the recipient of Soka University (Japan) honorary doctorate award, University of Kerala Millennium Award, Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Award, Atlanta, and member of International Collegium of Scholars, Morehouse College, USA.

    Sadhna Saxena is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, University of Delhi, India. She has worked for more than one and a half decades in Kishore Bharati which was a voluntary organization based in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh, India. While at Kishore Bharati she did intensive educational work within the school system and outside with school drop-outs, adults, and women. She has also been associated with the Democratic Rights work in India. She has worked in the field of literacy with a research organization of the MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) called the National Institute of Adult Education. Before joining the university, the major focus of her work has been in the area of mass education.

    Michael J. Scoullos is a Professor of Environmental and Marine Chemistry and Director of the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry at the University of Athens (UoA); Chemist (MSc, DSc), Oceanographer (Ph.D); responsible for the postgraduate course of Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at UoA. He is a member of the Executive Bureau of the European Environment Agency (EEA); founder and since 1992 Chairman of the Mediterranean Information Office for the Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE), the largest Federation of Mediterranean Organizations; coordinator of the International conference ‘Environment & Society’, Thessaloniki, 1997; member of the Task Group that drafted the UNECE Strategy on ESD for the UN Decade for ESD (2005–14). He is author of several books and more than 300 articles on Oceanography, Environment, Water, and International issues.

    Teesta Setalvad is the editor of the journal Communalism Combat. Her activism has focused on the protection of human rights and democracy. She is the recipient of numerous awards, such as the Nana A. Palkhivala Civil Liberties Award (2006), the Siva Prasad Barooah Award for Journalism (2002), the Thomas National Human Rights Award (2004), and the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist (1993). She has launched the country's first educational curriculum to help children engage with human rights. To spread her curriculum across India—and eventually across South Asia—she is training teachers to take up her approach in their schools. She is also building a national advocacy campaign on caste, religion, and gender biases in textbooks. The nationwide critique of social studies and history curriculae was pioneered by Khoj, the secular education programme which Setalvad is the director of and resulted in her being inducted into the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) an advisory board to the Indian Parliament.

    Shobha Sinha is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, University of Delhi. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in language education in India and in America. She has worked for several years in an innovative elementary education programme in Delhi University where she was involved in designing courses in language education and school based experiences. Her research interests include various aspects of literacy development in children, especially from low socio-economic backgrounds. Currently she is doing research in Indian children's early literacy experiences in the school context.

    Sukhadeo Thorat is Chairman, University Grants Commission, New Delhi; Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Director, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies. He has been a visiting faculty member for two years (1989–91) in Iowa State University, AMES, U.S.A. He has also been a consultant to International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, U.S.A. Thorat's research is mainly on agricultural development, rural poverty, institution and economic growth, problems of marginalized groups, and economics of caste system. His publications include Rural Development—Problem and Prospect (edited March 2001), Slum in Metropolies-Living Environment (with Sudesh Nangia, Shipra, New Delhi 2000), The Untouchability of Rural India (co-author, Sage Publications, 2006), Ambedkar on Social Exclusion and Inclusion (with Narender Kumar, Oxford, 2008), Dalits in India: In Search of Common Destiny (Sage Publications, 2009), and the forthcoming Blocked by Caste-Economic Discrimination and Social Exclusion in Modern India (Oxford, 2009). He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Dr Ambedakar Chetna Award (2001) and the Vidyalankara (Lifetime Achievement Award) (2008).

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website