On 11 February at the fifth SDG Conference Bergen 2022, Professor Andy Stirling gave a presentation on ‘Ways of Knowing Sustainability: diversity, plurality & politics of liberatory action.’ Andy’s lecture opened Session 4 which considered how higher education and research should meet sustainability challenges. Watch Andy’s full talk below, beginning at 02:38.

Andy’s talk focused on the challenge of “acknowledging different ways of knowing, not just how to implement sustainability, but what sustainability means in itself.” In particular, Andy emphasised that “sustainability is an inherently political notion”, exampling how different discourses and knowledges of sustainability are influenced by factors like power.

For example, he reinforced the need for diverse, plural perspectives on sustainability in order to better understand and tackle the reality of its multifaceted challenges – “towards recognising that difference is a way of knowing.” This differs to dominant, politicized narratives that suggest ‘the‘ singular pathways towards sustainability – an issue also addressed in the forthcoming STRINGS report.

Key findings from the new UNESCO report on universities and the 2030 Agenda were also referred to. The 2022 report discusses the role of higher education institutions in contributing to the sustainability 2030 Agenda, and Andy was one of several expert co-authors.

Read the UNESCO report on Knowledge-driven actions: Transforming higher education for global sustainability