Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Prof. Dr. Inka Bormann

Future Developments in ESD

This presentation will delineate the long journey that finally lead to the concept of Education for Sustainable Development. to this end, stages and events will be highlighted as well as these will be reflected as crucial steps with regarding the emergence of the „ESD path“. Drawing on a recent review of German literature on ESD research and development, the presentation will introduce findings concerning the implementation of ESD in schools. Finally, some examples of good ESD practice will be discussed.

Freie Universität Berlin

Division of General Education

Professor for General Education, FU Berlin



Westfälische Wilhelms University, Münster: Intermediate diploma in Education, April 1994

Freie University, Berlin: Diploma in Education (Agenda 21 as an innovation in adult education), April 1998

Leuphana University, Lüneburg: Doctorate in Education (Organisational Learning of schools concerned with the implementation of environmental management systems), November 2001

Freie University, Berlin: Habilitation in Education (Innovations and their transfer within the education system), June 2010


Work Experience


Leuphana University, Lüneburg

Research assistant, 1998-2001

  • Served as a teacher for schoolteachers
  • Conducted own research on the implementation of environmental management systems at schools (doctoral thesis)
  • Used quantitative and qualitative methods to develop, conduct and analyze a survey with teachers


Freie University, Berlin

Head of research and development project, 2001-2004

  • Managed and conducted own research within a project to bring out a self-evaluation tool for schools who wish to monitor and assess the sustainability efforts
  • Conducted teacher trainings


Freie University, Berlin

Assistant Professor, 2004-2010

  • Served as a teacher for schoolteachers as well as adult educators, social pedagogics, pre-primary educators
  • Member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Expert Groups on “Indicators for Sustainable Development” and on “Competencies for Educators of Education for Sustainable Development” (nominated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) http://www.unece.org/env/esd/SC.EGI.html
  • Managed and conducted own research within a tri-national transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary project to develop indicators for the monitoring of the implementation the concept of Education for Sustainable Development within Higher Education Institutions and Schools (together with Prof. Dr. Gerd Michelsen, Lüneburg)
  • Conducted own research on the transfer of the concept of Education for Sustainable Development in Germany during the UN Decade “Education for Sustainable Development” (habilitation thesis)





Philipps University, Marburg

Professor for General Education, 2010-2014

  • Served as a teacher for adult educators and social pedagogics
  • Contributed to restructure Bachelor and Master study programs in education
  • Developed, applied for a research project in a mixed methods project to representatively explore the environmental consciousness and the environmental behavior of adult Germans (on behalf of the German Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Environment Ministry; together with Institute for Social Innovation ISInova e.V.)
  • Developed, applied for, managed and conducted own research in a joint mixed-methods project to analyse governance-mechanisms of the transfer of the concept “Education for Sustainable Development” within municipalities (together with colleagues from the Leibniz University, Hannover; Justus Liebig University, Gießen; University of Education, Freiburg)
  • Conducted own conceptual research on trust towards the education system and its institutions in connection with the implementation of new public management and empirical research on trust within innovation networks


Freie University, Berlin

Professor for General Education, 2014-today

  • Serve as a teacher for schoolteachers, adult educators, social pedagogics and pre-primary educators
  • Responsible for the department’s Erasmus-activities (European student exchange)

The Division of General Education deals with questions concerning how people relate to their environment and how these relationships are shaped from the perspective of the study of education. Subjects of inquiry include forms of knowledge regarding education and its production, alongside the processes involved in dissemination and forms of inclusion and exclusion of knowledge, topics, and players within the education system. Our goal is to achieve a systematic understanding of how expectations related to education, the performance capacity of the education system and its institutions, and the forms, production, and legitimation of knowledge change. At the Division of General Education, we reflect on these processes in a systematic manner, for example with respect to

  • innovative education concepts and understandings of education and their implementation (education concepts and understandings of education),
  • the knowledge regarding education that is considered to be relevant and institutionalized as well as the inclusion and involvement of new players (players, topics, and forms of knowledge in the field of education) and
  • management approaches in the field of education and their possible side effects (shaping the environment / social shifts).

In these activities, we consider processes involved in social shifts, such as those that become apparent in new configurations of private and government players in the education system. We also consider how this kind of shift is shaped and institutionalized within the education system, for example through education reforms, introduction of new management tools, education concepts such as those related to education for sustainable development or the relationship between parents and education institutions. These processes play out at the system and organizational level as well as the interaction level, and they are interrelated with understandings of education as such and what is expected of education institutions.

Depending on the line of inquiry, our research relies on a broad spectrum of data collection and data analysis methods. We work with methods of reconstructive social research, especially the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse and the Documentary Method, with various types of computer-assisted content analysis, and with univariate and multivariate descriptive and statistical methods of data analysis. In the process, we reflect on the avenue that has been chosen in each case to address the subject in terms of its theoretical and methodological implications.

In our teaching activities in the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs (programs in education and teaching credential programs), we focus on teaching students more about basic terms and about theories and methods used in thinking and research from the perspective of the study of education. Our goal is to help ensure that students can take a reflective approach to requirements and changes in future fields of activity and roles. To this end, we deal with current topics from the field of education, such as issues of trust, social inequality, education partnerships, and forms of new management within the education system.

KEY PUBLICATIONS on Education for sustainable development, governance of innovation and transfer



Bormann, Inka; Hamborg, Steffen; Heinrich, Martin (eds.)(forthcoming): Governance-Regime des Transfers von Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Qualitative Rekonstruktionen. Reihe Educational Governance. Wiesbaden: SpringerVS. [Governance-Regimes of transfer of education for sustainable development. Qualitative Studies]

Kolleck, Nina; Kulin, Sabrina; Bormann, Inka; Schwippert, Knut; de Haan, Gerhard (Hrsg.)(2016): Traditionen, Zukünfte und Wandel in Bildungsnetzwerken. Münster: waxmann. [Traditions, futures and changes in education networks]

Bormann, I.; Rürup, M. (eds.) (2013): Innovationen im Bildungswesen. Analytische Zugänge und empirische Befunde. Reihe Educational Governance, Wiesbaden: VS. [Innovations within the education system. Analytical approaches and empirical findings]

Bormann, I.;  John, R.; Aderhold, J. (eds.) (2012): Indikatoren des Neuen. Innovation als Sozialtechnologie oder Sozialmethodologie? Reihe Innovation und Gesellschaft, Bd. 1, Wiesbaden: VS. [indicators of the new. Innovation as social technology or social methodology?]

John, R.; Rückert-John, J.; Bormann, I. (2012): Umweltbewusstsein 2012 in Deutschland. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage (Environmental consciousness in Germany 2012. Findings from the representative Social Survey), ed. by the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Federal Environment Agency, Berlin/Dessau. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/publikation/long/4396.pdf

Di Guilio, A.; Ruesch Schweizer, C.; Adomßent, M.; Blaser, M.; Bormann, I.; Burandt, S.; Fischbach, R.; Kaufmann-Hayoz, R.; Krikser, T.; Künzli Davoid, C.; Michelsen, G.; Rammel, C.; Streissler, A. (2011): Education on the Pathway to Sustainability. Proposal of an indicator set to evaluate education for sustainable development. Bern: IKAÖ. http://www.ikaoe.unibe.ch/publikationen/PDF-Schriftenreihen/Schriftenreihe%2013%20(2012)/Education_on_the_Path_to_Sustainability.pdf


Book chapters

Bormann, Inka (forthcoming): Zum Transfer von Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung aus einer governance-analytischen Perspektive. In: de Haan, Gerhard (ed.): Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung – State of the Art. Wiesbaden: SpringerVS. [Transfer of education for sustainable development – governance-analytical perspectives]

Bormann, I. (2013): Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung als Praxis sozialer Innovation. In: Rückert-John, J. (Hrsg.): Soziale Innovation und Nachhaltigkeit. Reihe Innovation und Gesellschaft. Wiesbaden: VS, S. 269-289. [Education for sustainable development as social innovation practice]

Bormann, I. (2013): Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung - Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart - Institutionalisierung, Thematisierung, aktuelle Entwicklung. In: Pütz, N.; Schweer, M. K. W.; Logemann, N. (Hrsg.): Psychologie und Gesellschaft. 11. Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Aktuelle theoretische Konzepte und Beispiele praktischer Umsetzung. Peter Lang GmbH. Frankfurt am Main, S. 11-31. [Education for sustainable development – from beginnings to present. Institutionalization, thematisation, recent developments]

Bormann, I. (2011): Communicating Education for Sustainable Development. In: Godemann, J.; Michelsen, G. (eds.): Sustainability Communication: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Theoretical Foundations, Berlin u.a.: Springer http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-007-1697-1_9#page-1

Fischbach, R.; Bormann, I.; Krikser, T. (2010): Akteure des Innovationstransfers. Eine Betrachtung aus der Perspektive des Advocacy Coalition Framework. In: Böttcher, W.; Dicke, J.N.; Hogrebe, N. (Hrsg.): Evaluation, Bildung und Gesellschaft. Steuerungsinstrumente zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit, Münster: waxmann, S. 381-395. [Actors of the innovation transfer. Reflections from the angle of the advocacy coalition framework]


Journal articles

Bormann, I. (2015): Unsicherheit und Vertrauen. Komplementäre Elemente pädagogischer Interaktionen und ihre institutionelle Überformung. In: Paragrana, Jg. 24, H. 1, S. 151-163 [Uncertainty and trust. Complementary elements of pedagogical interactions and their institutional transformation]

Bormann, I.; John, R. (2014): Trust in the education system – thoughts on a fragile bridge into the future. In: European Journal of Futures Research, vol. 2 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40309-013-0035-0

Kolleck, N.; Bormann, I. (2014): Analyzing trust in innovation networks: combining quantitative and qualitative techniques of Social Network Analysis. In: Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, vol. 17, 9-27 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11618-014-0551-0#page-1

Bormann, I. (2013): Perspektiven der Kommunikation und Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung angesichts milieuspezifischen Umweltbewusstseins und -verhaltens in Deutschland. In: Zeitschrift für Internationale Bildungsforschung und Entwicklungspädagogik, Jg. 36, H. 3, S. 11-19. [Perspectives on the communication of education for sustainable development given different milieu-specific environmental consciousnuess and environmental behavior]

Gräsel, C.; Bormann, I.; Schütte, K.; Trempler, K.; Fischbach, R.; Assenburg, R. (2013): Outlook on research in education for sustainable development. In: Policy Futures in Education, vol. 13, no. 2 http://pfe.sagepub.com/content/11/2/115.abstract

Truschkat, I.; Bormann, I. (2013): Zum konstruktiven Dilemma einer Disziplin - Sondierungen erziehungswissenschaftlicher Zugänge zur Diskursforschung. In: Zeitschrift für Diskursforschung, Jg. 1, H. 1, S. 88-112. [on the positive dilemma of a discipline: investigation of education research approaches in discourse studies]

Bormann, I. (2012): Vertrauen in Institutionen der Bildung oder: Vertrauen ist gut, ist Evidenz besser? In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, H. 6, S. 812-823. [Trust in the education system – or: trust is well, is evidence better?]

Bormann, I.; de Haan, G.; Leicht, A. (2010): Guest edition of a special issue on the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development of International Review of Education, vol. 56.

Bormann, I.; Michelsen, G. (2010): The collaborative production of meaningful measure(ment)s. In: EERJ, vol. 9, no. 4, p. 511-519. http://eer.sagepub.com/content/9/4/510.abstract

de Haan, G.; Leicht, A.; Bormann, I. (2010): Introduction: The midway point of the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development: Current Research and Practice in ESD. In: International Review of Education, vol. 56, no. 2-3. http://www.bne-portal.de/fileadmin/unesco/de/Downloads/Hintergrundmaterial_international/International_2520Review_2520of_2520Education_2520Vol._252056.File.pdf