The Role of the Individual in Sustainability Transformations – Special Issue published

The question of how to guide human development on this planet on a just and safe trajectory has therefore become a central task of our time. Science is expected to make important contributions to this task. In recent years, it has become clear that technological innovations alone will not be enough, but that changes in human behavior are needed on a large scale.

  • Why has the human response to the multiple social and environmental crises been so inadequate despite the growing global concern about their consequences?
  • Why are people not taking the right measures to advance sustainable development?

Providing insights that help to answer these questions should be the central task for both psychologists and educational scientists concerned with human behavior and learning. However, we have to confess that the research results currently produced by mainstream psychology and the learning sciences provide little politically impactful insights to answer this question.

Why has psychology -a science devoted to the understanding and prediction of human behavior -such difficulties to answer the question ‘Why aren’t people taking enough action?’? Why have questions like “How can we facilitate individual and social learning for change towards sustainability?” received so little attention in the mainstream of the education and the learning sciences so far?

In June 2021, we published a research topic in Frontiers in Psychology to bring together research that engages with these questions. The collection of papers published in the special issue presents different ideas about how to theoretically relate psychological constructs and learning processes with the broader social-structural contexts they are embedded in.

All 11 papers of the research topic are published open-access and freely available. Guest editors Sonja M. Geiger, Daniel Fischer and Sebastian Bamberg created this short video to introduce the special issue.

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