JustEd: Education as and for Environmental, Epistemic and Transitional justice to enable Sustainable Development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Education


The proposed project aims to understand how secondary school learners' knowledge and experiences of justice act as drivers for the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, it examines three types of justice in education and how they relate to learners' intended actions with respect to SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions):

- Environmental justice, which seeks to balance human and environmental rights in order that both might exist sustainably, recognising the unfair distribution of the effects of climate change.
- Epistemic justice, which values different knowledges and the peoples who hold them, working against the exclusion of multiple ways of understanding the world; and
- Transitional justice, which repairs wrongs of the past, acknowledging the importance of responsibility and reconciliation for possibilities of future peacebuilding.

By focusing on these forms of justice and the relationships between them, we extend and challenge traditional conceptions of justice in education, which are mainly rooted in social and distributional understandings of justice. The project will focus on both "education for justice" and "education as justice." The first focus requires an examination of how different forms of justice are taught across educational curricula, while the second looks at how social practice in schools and classrooms reflect and embody (or do not) these different forms of justice.

Our study is undertaken in secondary schools in three global contexts where these forms of justice are particularly relevant: Western Nepal, Andean Peru and Northern Uganda. These research contexts all have recent experience with conflict, are directly reliant on the natural environment and subsistence agriculture, and are ethnically diverse societies with multiple linguistic communities.

The study involves three phases which combine quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. The first phase of the project involves qualitative data collection through ethnographic work in schools, including interviews and participative arts-based focus group discussions in which learners draw images that illustrate their experiences with environmental, epistemic and transitional justice. This phase also includes an analysis of education policy documents, curricula, and related documents such as textbooks and examinations.

In the second phase of the project, analysis of qualitative data is used to create a questionnaire that is administered to learners on tablet computers. The questionnaire measures learners' curriculum knowledge relating to these forms of justice and SDG 13 and 16; their experiences of justice at school; their attitudes to towards justice expressed through responses to scenarios presented in short videos and images, and their intended actions and behaviours in relation to SDG 13 and 16. It will result in a quantitative dataset with approximately 6,000 responses, which will be analyzed through structural equation modelling.

The third phase of the project consists of a synthesis of these two components and the development of an analytical framework to articulate what transitional, epistemic and environmental justice would look like in a secondary education system.

While outcomes will be communicated to academic audiences through conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications, the project will achieve a broader impact on educational policy and practice through a series of targeted policy briefs and stakeholder impact events at both the regional and international level. Working with other GCRF-funded projects in the contexts of study, the project will also engage in knowledge exchange to synthesize findings and increase impact.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries from this research include
1) Secondary school learners in Western Nepal, Andean Peru and Northern Uganda, some of whom will benefit directly by participating in data collection, clarifying their understandings and experiences of different forms of justice and having the opportunity to shape research tools and express their priorities and intended actions for sustainable development. All learners will benefit by the achievement of sub-national and national impact goals aimed at solving development challenges related to education and SDG13 and 16 and at ensuring justice in and through education. Local impact agendas will identify specific local challenges - for instance an absence of community focused environmental education - and will provide solutions informed by research findings - for instance an education resource that ensures epistemic and transitional justice by recognizing existing knowledge and being available in the languages spoken locally.

2) Sub-national and national stakeholders, including national and regional policymakers, school leaders, teachers, teacher organisations and NGO staff, who will participate in stakeholder engagement events at the beginning and end of the project, contributing to research design and developing local impact goals that ensure project outputs will meet their specific development challenges related to education and SDG13 and 16. For example, JustEd may contribute to the revision of specific policies (e.g. textbook procurement; environmental education syllabi) or support the development of action groups. These stakeholders will also have the opportunity to network with and shape impact pathways of regional (East Africa, Latin America and South Asia) GCRF funded research thanks to three regional Education for Sustainable Development showcase events, to which they will be invited to contribute. JustEd policy briefs will share project findings in ways that meet stakeholder development needs and enable cross-case learning.

3) Educators and others committed to achieving sustainable development, who will benefit from publicly available outputs of JustEd that will widely share our findings and the learning materials produced. These include:

a. the multiple justices framework that can be adapted and used to analyse the relationship between education and sustainable development;
b. the app-based questionnaire, with video and scenario activities as well as closed questions around understandings of and attitudes towards different forms of justice and intended actions for sustainable development;
c. teaching and learning resources, including those used in qualitative, participative research activities and those developed as part of local impact plans;
d. short animated videos sharing key research findings.

These will be widely promoted on the project website and by twitter to an engaged virtual community that we will build over the course of the project. We will also seek to develop a partnership with the World Largest Lesson to share these resources freely with a global audience.

4) The global policy community committed to achieving the SDGs, who will benefit thanks to JustEd participation in a relevant high-level international conference (for example, a UN organized conference), through a series of policy briefs, and by engaging with academic publications and the JustEd website and twitter handle
Title JustEd key findings 
Description An overview of the main findings of the project 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2023 
Impact increased public engagement with the project. 
URL https://vimeo.com/872526418
Description Summary

Education is expected to play a pivotal role in delivering Sustainable Development Goals 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 10 (reduced inequalities). That education can drive the achievement of these SDGs often assumes linear trajectories, for example, that including content about sustainability in syllabi or textbooks will lead to learners' improved knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours in relation to climate resilience. The SDGs and other international agreements, including the Paris Agreement for climate action, places great responsibility on education systems and young people to drive the transformative social change that we recognize is needed for sustainable development. Through case studies of secondary schooling in Nepal, Peru and Uganda that cut across policy, curriculum, teaching, young people's experiences and outcomes, we found that for education to play this role, much more explicit attention needs to be paid to education as justice. In the absence of justice, the imagined trajectories that position education as a driver in social change are unlikely to be realized.

Our mixed methods findings showed the importance of considering multiple forms of justice (environmental, epistemic, transitional and social justice) and bringing these forms of justice together into an integrated justice approach for exploring the ways that secondary education can enable just outcomes. We particularly found the significance of an education that connects to children's experiences and the place where they live, and supports young people to analyse, evaluate and critique the complexity of justice, and their role in system-wide reform.
Exploitation Route The outcomes can be used by curriculum developers, educational policymakers and teacher trainers to embed a justice approach to secondary education - particularly in the teaching of topics directly related to the SDGs (e.g. environmental education). We have developed clear guidance on how to embed this justice approach, together with evidence briefs that demonstrate why this approach can bring about meaningful actions by young people in Peru, Uganda and Nepal.
Sectors Education

Description In Uganda, we have developed a teacher training manual that has been approved for use by the National Curriculum Development Centre. This will be used in pre-service teacher training and is available for use in all secondary schools. In Nepal, we are trialling a Nepal-specific teacher training manual with the expectation that it will be embedded into national in-service teacher training.
First Year Of Impact 2023
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

Policy & public services

Description Changes in teacher resources in Uganda
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or improved professional practice
Description Key stakeholders workshop in Kampala 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact National education leaders, including leads in teacher training and curriculum design attended, led to development of Uganda teacher training materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
Description Online seminar presentation about emerging findings from the JustEd study in Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This is a seminar series hosted by the Department of Education at the University of Bath and reading an international audience of scholars and students in education and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://vimeo.com/showcase/9000487/video/671862950
Description Stakeholder event in Lima 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Stakeholder roundtable and open event sharing the findings of JustEd, this sparked interest, resulting in co-I Maria Balarin undertaking further media engagements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
Description Teacher trainers workshop in Kampala 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 10 teacher training leads from Ugandan public universities attended a day workshop, agreed to work together to embed our findings into pre-service teacher training nationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
Description Video series introducing the study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In March 2022, we launched a series of short videos that were produced by our researchers in Uganda and Peru. With each video less than 5 minutes in length, these videos serve to provide a brief introduction to the aims of JustEd, they contextualise JustEd in the research sites and talk through the concepts we are exploring (the justices and their relevance to education). As these videos have just been published, the reach of this activity is yet to be determined.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://vimeo.com/showcase/9219769
Description website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We launched our website in May 2021. Since then, we have used the website to share our accomplishments and outputs with the academic community. Through the website, academics have accessed our four discussion papers, each of which have been downloaded more than 100 times (up to 249 times). We plan to also use the website to engage policy makers and the general public over the next year, as we produce more concrete, policy-relevant briefs and recommendations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.bath.ac.uk/projects/justed/