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Transformative education in an overall political context


The term transformative education (or transformative learning TL) has become increasingly significant for UNESCO in recent years (UNESCO 2021a)[1]. The biannual global UNESCO forums as well as new types of events held specifically on this topic, such as the 2022 Transforming Education UN/UNESCO Summit[2], highlight this importance.

Against this backdrop, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO established the Advisory Board on “Transformative Education/Global Citizenship Education” (TE/GCED) in 2017.This terminology is also becoming more widespread in academic discourse, whereby reference is often, but not exclusively, made to education for sustainable development (ESD) in the German-speaking world, while the TE—ESD—GCED conceptual triangle usually forms the basis for UNESCO.

In 2022, the Advisory Board was commissioned to work on this conceptual triangle in relation to UNESCO and the Austrian context. The purpose of the paper of the advisory board is to clarify the terms transformative education – global citizenship education – education for sustainable development and to demonstrate the links between them. Moreover, it aims to shed light on both the educational policy and overall political contexts which form the back-ground for the current discussion concerning and surrounding these concepts.

[1] UNESCO (2021a): Reimagining Our Futures Together. A New Social Contract for Education. Report from the International Commission on the Futures of Education. Paris.
[2] See, for example:,,,



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