Interviews/speaking events



Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Are we educated to destroy the Earth: ‘University Education for Sustainability’ held at the Purpose of the Future University conference held at Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, November 7-8, 2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) De duurzame school als kloppend hart van de buurt. Inleiding AKSO Studiedag gehouden in de Meerpaal te Amsterdam op 30 maart.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research. Keynote Autour des Sciences Ecocitoyennes Territorialisées. Journées d’échanges entre praticiens et chercheurs, 16 – 18 mai 2017 Arlon, Belgique.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Disrupting the normalisation of unsustainability:rethinking education and research in times of global systemic dysfunction. Keynote Tagung „Bildung und Erziehung im Kontext globaler Transformation“ der beiden DGfE-Kommissionen Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung (BNE) und Vergleichende und internationale Erziehungswissenschaft (VIE), Bayreth, Germany, 23-03-2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Transgressive education and research in pursuit of sustainability and change. INTRO DE REFORMA RURAL INTEGRAL: RETOS PARA LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE PAZ, Universidad National de Colombia, Bogota, Colombia, 13-02-2016

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Citizen science als tool voor milieu- en wetenschapseducatie en meer publieksengagement. Keynote gehouden op de Inspiratiedag Natuur-Klimaat-Milieu-Educatie op 16 november, 2017 te Hasselt bij Provinciaal Natuurcentrum Limburg.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Learning against the grain: transgressive learning for sustainability in the Anthropocene. Keynote held at the Adult Learning Conference on ESD-Future Milestones & Strategies, Copenhagen, October 12th, 2017.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Scholen die duurzaamheid ademen: de ‘whole school approach’
Keynote Conferentie Duurzame PABO, gehouden bij de Hoge School Windesheim te Zwolle 2017 op 8 februari.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Emancipatory EE and T-Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Urgent Sustainability Challenges. Keynote held at the Chinese Association for Environmental Education Conference held in Taichung, Taiwan on September 16th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Social learning against climate change Keynote held at the International Conference on Environmental Education held in Taipei Region, Taiwan held on September 14th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) No Jobs on a Dead Planet: Are We Educated to Destroy the Earth? Input talk ‘Forum University Education for Sustainability’ held at Gothenburg University on November 14th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Onderwijzen voor een duurzamere wereld. Lezing gehouden tijdens de opening academisch jaar van Marnix Academie, Domkerk te Utrecht, 28 augustus, 2017

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) ’Van buiten wordt je binnen beter’: tuinieren als basis voor  duurzame ontwikkeling. Inleiding gehouden op de Duurzaamheidsmiddag Schooltuinen Amsterdam op 24 juni.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Higher Education for Sustainable Development: A Call for Transgression & Transformation. Keynote held EU-WISE Seminar  “Implementing ESD in Higher Education” Held at SLU, Uppsala, Sweden, December 11th.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) The Transformative Power of Education:Rethinking ‘education-as-usual’ in times of unsustainability. Keynote held at the World Heritage Museum, Gothenburg, 6th of October.

Wals, A.E.J. (2017) Using the SDGs as a catalyst for re-designing higher education in the Anthropocene. Video-link keynote held at the ICA-Edu Colloquium, Zagreb June 13th.



Wals, A.E.J. (2015) “Beyond unreasonable doubt – education and learning for sustainability in the anthropocene”. Inaugural address held upon accepting the position of Personal Professor in Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Wageningen, December 17, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) From cosmetic reform towards a whole system transformation: transgressive education for responsible living. Keynote held March 11, at the PERL final conference held at UNESCO, Paris.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Learning in communities in times of accelerating change and persistent unsustainability. Keynote held at the Learning in Communities Symposium held March 13, 2015 at Wageningen University.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the “Pathways to the Future: Education for Sustainable Development” Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, April 22-24, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Civic Science, phronesis and the co-creation of sustainability: towards future proof education and learning, Public Lecture held at the University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria, March 20, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Developing Sustainability Competence and 21th Century Capacities through Transformative Agricultural Education, Keynote held at the Conference on Higher Agricultural Education in the 21th Century, Zaragoza, Spain, June 13-15th 2015


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Towards Sustainability: Hybrid Learning in Vital Coalitions, Keynote held at the # Environmental governance in an increasingly complex world symposium held at the Stockholm Environment Centre, Stockholm, Sweden, May 20-21th, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the Informal University of the Cauca, Sylvia, May 2nd, Colombia.

Wals, A.E.J (2015) El rol de la educación en el desarrollo: Tendencias mundiales en la educación para la sustentabilidad, Keynote held at the Education for Sustainable Dvelopment Seminar at Cali University, Cali, Colombia, May 5th, 2015.

Wals, A.E.J (2015) Teaching and learning against the grain while going with the flow: educational innovations for the great transition, talk held at the Cali Zoo, Cali, May 5th , Colombia.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Re-imagining Nature Education in Times of Globalization, Rapid Change and Unsustainability. Keynote held at the China Nature Eduation Forum, Hangzhou, China, 13-15 November, 2015


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Transformative Learning for a More Sustainable World. Keynote held at International conference „Bridging Education and Science for Sustainable Development” December 2-3, 2015, Daugavpils, Riga.


Wals, A.E.J. (2015) Duurzaamheid als katalysator van onderwijsvernieuwing. Inleiding gehouden op de Trenddag Vlaamse Lerarenopleidingen, Gent, 14 december 2015


Wals, A.E.J. “No jobs on a dead Planet” – Rethinking the role of higher education in times of Systemic Global Dysfunction, Keynote held at Högskolan Dalarna, Campus Falun, Sweden, October 20, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Beyond (un)reasonable doubt – education in times of uncertainty and systemic global dysfunction. Keynote held at the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) conference held in Adelaide, Australia, 18-22 of October, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Beyond adaptation: the role of multi-stakeholder social learning in creating a more sustainable world. Keynote held at the “Hav och samhälle” (Sea & Society) Conference in Marstrand, Sweden on November 22, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) “Beyond adaptation: transgressive learning for disrupting resilient unsustainability” Introduction held at the ESD-Seminar of the Gothenburg Environmental Centre (GMV) on November 25th.2015

Wals, A.E.J (2015) The role of education and learning in creating healthier and more sustainable diets – habits, behaviors, lifestyles, chains, systems, … Keynote held at the City of Gothenburg Symposium on Sustainable Food and Education, Gothenburg, Sweden, November 26, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) Sustainability as a catalyst for educational innovation and a driver of a more sustainable world Harare, Keynote prestented at the 2015 Education Conference & Expo – “Growing Socio-Economic Opportunities Through Quality Education in the 21st Century”, held in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 16-18, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015) More than the sum of its parts – creating ecologies of learning to respond to sustainability challenges. Keynote held at the Finish National Environmental Education Days held in Helsinki, December 5-7, 2015.


Wals, A.E.J (2015)Holistic Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education, Paper presented at ECER 2015 “Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research”, conference held at Corvinus, University of Budapest from 7 to 11 September 2015.

2014 (incomplete)


Earth is calling! Anyone answering?

– keynote held by video message at the European Environmental Education Days in Bergamo (September 24th-26th, 2014)

Using the release of the iPhone6 I attempt to sketch the complexity of our current sustainability challenges amd the role of teaching, learning and capacity-building in meeting this challenge. The talk also serves to invite people to attend the 8th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) which will be held in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Here is a link to the talk!


Shaping the Education for Tomorrow: Lessons learnt from 10 years of ESD

Key note held at The 6th Beijing International Forum on Education for Sustainable Development, Beijing China, 22nd–24th, October 2013

This was my first visit to China. I was honored to be a keynote speaker at a major event organized by the Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences, the City of Beijing, the Chinese UNESCO Commission and supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education. As the first non-Chinese speaker during the opening session, supported by music and dance, I followed a line of notable speakers like Niu Chunshan, Deputy Mayor, People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, Xian Lianping, Director, Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, Liu Limin, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Abhimanyu Singh, Director, UNESCO Beijing office.

In my presentation I drew mostly from the second review (Wals, 2012) of the UN Decade for ESD that has been conducted as a part of its Global Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. Clearly there is world-wide recognition, also in China, that sustainability challenges cannot be solved only through technological advances, legislative measures and new policy frameworks. Such responses are necessary but will need to be accompanied by changes in mind-sets, values and lifestyles, as well as a strengthening of people’s capacities to bring about change. This recognition explains the key role many governments, NGO’s, UN Agencies, and, indeed, companies, are giving to learning and capacity building in the search for solutions to interrelated sustainability challenges such as: climate change, global food security, disaster risk management, biodiversity loss, sustainable production and consumption, and so on.

I concluded my talk by suggesting that in order to remain relevant in the years to come, ESD will need to position and develop itself as an education that can help citizens deal with complexity, controversy and uncertainty, while at the same time empowering them and equipping them with the capacities to transform themselves and others with the well-being of the Planet in mind. In this role ESD is not in competition with well-established educations like environmental education or with emerging ones like climate change education, but rather a supplier of methods, tools and learning processes that can strengthen all of them while recognizing that ESD itself can benefit from the lessons learnt in those other educations as well.

During the Forum we heard many contributions from China and Hong Kong that made it clear that the earlier referred to review I wrote for UNESCO, which has been translated into Chinese, has become one of the drivers of educational reform China which took me by surprise. ESD in China appears to be seen as a catalyst for educational renewal. This became particularly clear when we visited Beijing Secondary School number 55 where we attended several classes. We seemed to be attending, in my view – and admittedly that is with a ‘typical’ Western, or should I say Dutch, classroom as a reference – rather conventional ways of teaching and learning: teacher introduces subject, students present their own research results in front of the class using powerpoint and the digiboard, teacher asks questions, students get to discuss in small groups, teacher wraps up the lesson, all in a very focused and structured manner. My colleague from the UK and I were wondering “where is the ESD?” in all this? But then it was explained to us that in the past there were little or no student presentations, own questions, student choices about what topic to investigate, small group conversations, etc. Introducing these elements for our Chinese colleagues was the core of ESD and indeed, perhaps it is. At the same time issues of air and water pollution and food safety issues are part of the curriculum as well but for now the ‘E’ in SD seems to be more important than the ‘SD’ in ESD.

Wals, A.E.J. (2012) Shaping the Education of Tomorrow: 2012 Full-length Report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development – DESD Monitoring & Evaluation Report, UNESCO, Paris. This report can be downloaded at:

Please have a look at where you will find information about a conference on Creativity and Pedagogy held in Cartagena, Colombia recently. I was asked to speak there about “Globalization, sense of place and transformative learning in times of unsustainability”. In this talk I link the three themes of this conference (post-colonial pedagogies, sustainability and inter-relatedness) by discussing and, indeed, critiquing, education in the context of sustainable development (ESD) from a perspective of critical thinking and transformative learning. I argued that our quest for a more sustainable world requires a sense of place and identity as well as decolonizing pedagogies and socially responsible knowledge co-creation. The search for sustainability cannot be limited to classrooms, the corporate boardroom, a local environmental education center, a regional government authority, etc. Instead, learning in the context of sustainability requires ‘hybridity’ and synergy between multiple actors in society and the blurring of formal, non-formal and informal education. A good example of such hybridity can be found in the so-called ‘whole school approaches to sustainability’ where schools establish linkages between questions around food, energy and health and the curriculum (both espoused and hidden and the community of which it is part). Opportunities for this type of learning expand with an increased permeability between units, disciplines, generations, cultures, institutions, sectors and so on. At the same time we must beware of the use of sustainability and sustainability education in a-critical ways that, albeit intentionally or unintentionally, lead to a consolidation of current hegemonic (economic) systems and educational practices thereby amplifying unsustainability. More information about this well-attended conference can also be found on this facebook page:

In September I gave a keynote address at the annual congress of the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) in Lilongwe, Malawi on “Environmental Education and the Green Economy – opportunities and pitfalls”.

As part of the fourth annual Uppsala Conference on the Future of Sustainability and Education, I gave a keynote presentation on Transformative Learning in May of 2013.
The entire talk can be found here: A warning is in place as I realized watching it back later I talked way too long. I do not recommend watching this in one go…
For more information, visit

Also in May – in combination with a contribution at the student organized event (CEMUS) in Uppsala (see above) I was asked to give a key note at Malmo University in the South of Sweden on “Why sustainability cannot and should not be taught: a call for transformative learning in times of globalization and rapid change” More information about this event can be found here (in Swedish I’m afraid):

In april gaf ik een bijdrage aan de landelijke dag van de Heimans & Thijsse Stichting samen met o.a. Princes Irene en Tracy Metz. Een kort verslag is hier te vinden:

In March I had the honor to give a key note on “Education and Capacity Building for Sustainability” at the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development in Korea at the Expert Consultation on Knowledge and Capacity Needs for Sustainable Development in Post-Rio+20 Era. More information on the event can be found here:

Fifty Shades of Green – Why the green economy cannot be ‘business-as-usual’ and why ESD cannot be ‘education-as-usual’. Conference The Social Pillar of Sustainability’, December 20th, 2012, School of Sustainability IDC, Herzliya, Israel.

Why Sustainability cannot and should not be taught: a call for deep learning in turbulent times. University of Gothenburg’s annual “Global Week” on November 15th, 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Social learning towards sustainability in times of accelerating global change – Challenges after Rio +20 – Keynote held at the Baltic University Network meeting on ESD held in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland on November 8th, 2012

Education for Sustainable Development – learning-based change towards a better world – workshop provided at GRZ ESD Leadership Forum, Berlin, October 16th, 2012

Learning and knowing in transboundary efforts towards sustainability. Keynote held at the annual conference of the Swedish Research School on ESD in Umea, on October 10th, 2012

What training do we need for greening the economy? Keynote held at “Opportunities and chances for green economy in Estonia” held in Tallinn on October 3rd, 2012

Why the green economy cannot be ‘business as usual’ and why ESD cannot be ‘education as usual’. Conference day on “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD) organized by the Swiss Sustainable Development Forum on October 3rd, 2012, Geneva, Switserland. Note: this was a video-taped pre-recorded talk which is available via WURTV (click on the image below to see the talk).


ESD just another subject added to an over-crowded curriculum or a catalyst for educational renewal and societal transition towards sustainability? Summer School “Educating for sustainability” of the Network of Educational Policy Centers (NEPC), Primošten, Croatia, 1-7 July 2012.

Leading Change for Sustainability –Key note at the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT), July 4th, 2012, Bandar Enstek, Malaysia.

Launch of “Educating for a sustainable future” – Rio +20 Side Event Chaired by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, organized on June 21th, 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Full report can be found here: Learning for Tomorrow – Full UNESCO DESD Report.

“Science as community: Sustainability- oriented trans-disciplinary research”In May of 2012 I contributed to the 5th Living Knowledge Conference which was held in Bonn, Germany with a talk on “Science as community: Sustainability- oriented trans-disciplinary research”. The entire talk has now been uploaded on youtube as have been several of the other talks held at this energizing event. The talk can be found here. Since the slides I used are not always (clearly) visible you can find the slides I used here: WalsBonnLivingKnowledge.

“Universities and Environmental Sustainability”
Keynote held at the University of Oslo at UNICA Green Academic Footprint – Universities Committed and Connected towards Environmental Sustainability on 3rd and 4th of May 2011. Podcast to be heard at:

Interview with SWEDESD (Swedish Decade of Education for Sustainable Development on SWEDESD TV –  (October 2010) on the meaning of social learning in the context of sustainability.

“The prius-effect in ESD – Accelerating sustainability through hybrid learning, some examples from The Netherlands”
Leuphana University, Germany, Sustainability Lecture Series, January 20th, 2011. A snap-shot of a much longer lecture that starts with the phenomenon of “green washing”

Interview with the European Training Foundation on the role of Education for Sustainability in Technical and Vocational Education and Training and in Entrepreneurial Learning (September 2011) held in Torino, Italy in August of 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s