What is Sustainability [Education] For? – a Critical Indigenous Theory Intervention Into the Discourses of Sustainability and Sustainability Education
Sustainability and sustainability education, as Western discourses within and without the academy, have been developing since the mid 20th century as an attempt to address the increasingly frequent and severe ecological disasters and the growing social crises that our global community is facing today. This paper, tracing the development of the discourse of sustainability and the parallel growth of sustainability education, uses critical indigenous theory to show how these disciplines, as they are practiced, theorized, and taught today, are complicit in reifying colonial structures instead of dismantling them, as they purport to do. This analysis renders sustainability as positioning itself within and contributing to the cacophony of subordinated viewpoints within settler multicultural liberal democracy, which ultimately drowns out the presence of indigeneity and the critique of settler colonialism that indigeneity inherently contributes to any analysis of unsustainability and land today. This paper suggests ways in which the discourses of sustainability and sustainability education can begin to be rewritten and finds that land education, which centers Indigenous ways of knowing, might ultimately encompass both the work that sustainability purports to do and the indigenous perspective.