Critical Social Theory and Sustainability Education at the College Level Why It’s Critical to be Critical
This article addresses the value of critical social theory (CST) to sustainability education in higher education. CST is a particularly challenging form of social critique, especially for those who are middle and upper class members of industrial societies. It is argued that important sustainability education opportunities raised by CST actually derive from the deeply challenging nature of CST critique which indicts all who collude with domination and oppression. This article also addresses a common critique of CST: that it offers no explicit alternatives to the systems of domination and oppression characteristic of modern, global, industrial capitalism. It is argued that CST’s focus on critique effectively implies alternatives. It is also argued that CST’s refusal to draw an explicit roadmap to an egalitarian and just future implies a critique of authoritarian leadership and therefore opens space for grassroots visioning and for creating more just and sustainable alternatives to current social systems. The author argues that CST critique in the higher education setting, especially when combined with service learning projects, offers an effective means for transformational learning in service to a more just and sustainable world.