Transformative Learning and Planetary Stewardship

Transformative Learning and Planetary Stewardship

Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world.

Without a doubt, the emergence of new ways of living cannot be promoted only by improving the consciousness of people. It is also important to provide opportunities by which people can experience the benefits themselves and truly investigate in an intuitive way what really matters to them. We need more examples that show that these better ways of living are feasible now.

Transformative learning for a sustainable future may be defined as “learning that transforms our existential understanding and conceptions about the interdependence of humans and nature, the essence of humanity, fundamentals of well-being, and the role of the economy in our world and daily lives. It aims at developing a holistic worldview and deep realization and coherence of the purpose, direction, values, choices and actions of one’s life. It accumulates into an emergence of learning communities and ecosystems demonstrating new, resilient sustainable lifestyles, which finally lead to a cultural transformation into a sustainable society and the world.

In order to achieve the transformation of society, it is important to widen the scope of learning to organizational and societal scales.

Transformative learning, therefore, is about seeing our worldview from a reflective perspective. Emerging learning communities then can become co-creative partners for formal educational institutions.

In the future school, transformative learning for a sustainable future should be the core mission of education. Learning should be focused on understanding the connections between humans, nature, society, and the economy. This requires moving from subject-based orientation towards solving real-life problems with future skills like systems thinking, critical thinking, future thinking, and interpersonal skills.

Other than cognitive skills, the unconscious mind must be utilized intentionally as a source of creativity, empathy, complex problem-solving, and holistic thinking. Character education with qualities such as mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, leadership, sufficiency, and planetary responsibility is an integral part of fostering change agents for a sustainable future.

Perhaps the future of transformative education will become polymorphic. Formal education systems may find a co-creative transformative relationship with society, and radical modern learning organizations may emerge from side to amplify transformation, entering their influence in all sectors of society.

Such a cultural transformation would be based on constant interaction between the individual, organizational and systemic levels.

Henceforth, we can safely conclude, that, at some point, the bottom-up demands will become so great, the system is forced to change.


__Laininen, E. (2019). Transforming our worldview towards a sustainable future. In ‘Sustainability, Human Well-Being, and the Future of Education’ (pp. 161-200). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Retrieved from Google Scholar.

__O’Sullivan, E., Morrell, M., & O’Connor, A. (2002). Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning: Essays on Theory and Practice. New York: Palgrave.


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