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Visualizing More Sustainable Futures

Originally appears in the Spring 2013 issue

It has always seemed to me that when educators talk about education for sustainability it begs a basic question. If our students can’t actually visualise a more sustainable future then how are we ever going to get there? Whilst education for sustainability is explicitly about the present it is also implicitly about the future. I believe that sustainability educators need to draw more overtly on the work of futures educators because they have developed various techniques for making the future more explicit for investigation.

This article thus emphasises four key abilities that teachers and students need in these times: A) the ability to think critically and creatively about the future; B) the ability to visualise different alternative futures; C) the ability to explore inspirational sustainable futures; and D) the ability to teach in a spirit of optimism and hope.

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David Hicks is a Visiting professor at Bath Spa University, in Bath, England. He’s also a freelance educator with particular interest in climate change, peak oil, limits to growth and the need for a post-carbon curriculum. Details of his work can be found at: His book Sustainable Schools, Sustainable Futures: A resource for teachers can be downloaded free at