Heightened media and public attentiveness to environmental issues throughout the 1960's led to the rise of a post-modern form of environmental education that moved away from viewing ecological issues in isolation and sanctioned a radical social analysis. Since the early 1980's there has however been a growing tendency particularly at the international level, for environmental education to be incorporated into the 'sustainable development' paradigm. It is argued the construct of sustainable development represents the economic and ideological interests of powerful international institutions and encompasses a view of the environment as a storehouse of resources and sink for wastes.
Research undertaken by the author has sought to critically assess how much influence the international sustainable development framework is having on the conceptualisation and construction of environmental and sustainability education in the Australian state of Victoria. The aim was to consider if and to what extent (if any) environmental education in Victoria is being constructed to challenge neoliberal global order and, in doing so analysed the claim of critical pedagogues that state schools act as institutions for indoctrination, particularly around environmental and sustainability education.
This paper will present on some of the findings of this research. In particular it will use Sauvé's (1996) typology of educational paradigms to consider how the language and concepts of environmental education have been commandeered to maintain the current exploitative structures of capitalist society and assist processes of ideological imperialism, adding weight to the claims of critical pedagogues.
Sauvé, L 1996, 'Environmental education and sustainable development: a further appraisal', Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE), vol. 1, no. 1, pp. pp. 7-34.