Building capacity for green, just and sustainable futures – a new knowledge field requiring transformative research methodology

Education has contributed to a society-wide awareness of environmental issues, and we are increasingly confronted with the need for new ways to generate energy, save water and reduce pollution. Thus new forms of work are emerging and government, employers and educators need to know what ‘green’ skills South Africa needs and has. This creates a new demand for ‘green skills’ research. We propose that this new knowledge field – like some other educational fields – requires a transformative approach to research methodology. In conducting reviews of existing research, we found that a transformative approach requires a reframing of key concepts commonly used in researching work and learning; multi-layered, mixed method studies; researching within and across diverse knowledge fields including non-traditional fields; and both newly configured national platforms and new conceptual frameworks to help us integrate coherently across these. Critical realism is presented as a helpful underpinning for such conceptual frameworks, and implications for how universities prepare educational researchers are flagged.
Higher education curriculum, Transformation, Informal learning, Indigenous knowledge, South Africa