Ecological and Social Justice: A Leadership Framework for Sustainability

By Brad W Kose and Carolyn Shields.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The first principle agreed on at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro read: “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.” Furman and Gruenewald (2004) viewed “environmental crises as inseparable from social crises” (p. 48). Hence, we believe it is necessary to develop a holistic view of sustainability, in which environmental, cultural, economic. and social issues are inseparably interlinked.
To accomplish this purpose, we first develop the concept of transformative leadership as a basis for a critical engagement with ways in which organizations, policies, and civic engagement may promote ecologically and socially just sustainability. We then demonstrate the utility of our transformative framework for a more holistic approach to K-12 education for sustainability and social justice.
The need for such an integrated framework cannot be overemphasized. Despite extensive knowledge in various disciplines about the disparities between rich and poor, about environmental degradation, and about the ways in which “sustainable” development more readily sustains neo-liberal economic approaches than socially just ones, there is little scholarship and discussion about how these, and many other phenomena are integrally intertwined.

Keywords: Transformative Leadership, Sustainability, Ecology, Social Justice, Culture, Environment

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.275-288. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 625.834KB).

Brad W Kose

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Dr. Brad W. Kose, PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Both his teaching and research center on the integration of leadership for learning and leadership for social justice. He is particularly interested in how school leaders promote and support teaching for social justice. Recently, he has examined how transformative leadership and professional learning are associated with teaching and student outcomes.

Dr. Carolyn Shields

Professor, College of Education, Department of Educational Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Dr. Carolyn Shields, PhD University of Saskatchewan, is currently a professor of leadership in the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her teaching is in the area of leadership and ethics, democracy, policy, and social justice. Her research relates to the construct of transformative leadership, in particular, how educational leaders can create learning environments that are deeply democratic, socially just, and inclusive of students’ lived experiences. She has conducted various studies into transformative leadership in cross-cultural communities and the role of dialogue and spirituality in creating more holistic and inclusive school communities. These interests are reflected in her many publications, including over 100 articles, numerous presentations, and her seven books, the most recent of which is Courageous Leadership for Transforming Schools: Democratizing Practice. Most recently she is interested in the need for scholars to exercise an advocacy role for the disadvantaged and to take a stance as public intellectuals.


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