„Wandel statt Wachstum“ – Die Sustainable Development Goals und Postwachstumsökonomien aus der Perspektive Jugendlicher im Kontext einer gesellschaftlichen Transformation

“Change instead of Growth” – The Sustainable Development Goals and Post-growth Economies from the Perspective of Young People in the Context of a Socio-Ecological Transformation

Led by:  Prof. Dr. Christiane Meyer
Team:  Dr. Andreas Eberth, Lydia Heilen
Year:  2019
Funding:  Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK)
Duration:  2019-2022


As part of this research project, the perspectives of young people on the Sustainable Development Goals and Post-growth Economies are surveyed using a standardised online questionnaire and focus group discussions. Visits with the young people to so-called pioneers of change are carried out as participatory as possible in the sense of enquiry-based learning.

Project description

The UNESCO Global Action Programme on “Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)” lists among others a societal transformation as one dimension of ESD. This transformation is ultimately likewise a central concern of Agenda 2030 with the so-called “5 Ps” (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership), for which 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as orientation. Learners should also be enabled to change themselves and the society in which they live. 

As part of the project, a quantitative survey will first be carried out using a standardised online questionnaire. This survey on the topic of sustainability and sustainable development is addressed to young people. The results and findings are an important basis for the two sub-projects, which essentially form the basis of the project. In those two subprojects, young people are shown ways of transformation through change agents as well as stories of success, which illustrate that each and every individual can make a difference. Examples from the region are particularly suitable for this, as they allow a link to the world in which we live. Furthermore, the orientation on the prevailing economic growth paradigm, which is also expressed in SDG 8, will be reflected critically with regard to a shift towards sustainability.

The aim of this project is therefore to determine the perspective of young people on the SDGs of agenda 2030 and societal transformation (“change…”) in the first subproject and on approaches to post-growth economies (“...instead of growth”) in the second subproject.

The ideas and reflections of adolescents about the importance of SDGs, what a societal transformation with orientation along the SDGs means, how society can be transformed or brought into an ecologically safe and socially just space using the example of the metaphor of the “donut” (according to Kate Raworth) and how they evaluate approaches of the post-growth economies as a way to a post-growth society are of particular research interest. For this, reflexive methods will be implemented in both subprojects in order to ascertain the young people's perspective and simultaneously sensitise them to self-awareness. They are encouraged to reflect on their spatial perceptions and constructions as well as their orientations (values, worldview). If reflection signifies a questioning of the given or the representational, reflexivity also includes the critical questioning of one’s own thoughts and actions. Reflexivity in the geographical sense demands a connection between the inside and outside, i.e. the self in relation to space and place. Thinking about one’s own actions has a special value in the context of consciousness formation and action, since reflection remains incomplete without reflexivity and is therefore hardly effective. Furthermore, in the second subproject, which focuses on post-growth economies, participative research will be applied to conceive and test a teaching unit on the basis of the adolescents’ ideas.

The project goes on desiderata in geography education research and tests innovative methodological approaches. It serves simultaneously as a contribution to transformative education as well as to the promotion of global citizenship education in particular.