Green machines? Destabilizing discourse in technology education for sustainable development

Beniamin Knutsson


Technology education (TE) and education for sustainable development (ESD) increasingly converge. This makes perfect sense given the techno-optimism that permeates the prevailing discourse on sustainable development. The present article reviews mainstream and more critical work within this emerging literature. A central argument is that even the more critical studies in the field tend to feed into the techno-optimistic sustainable development discourse; as they do not contest conventional understandings of technology, the scope of their critique remains limited. Reiterating Hornborg’s theories of machine fetishism and ecologically unequal exchange, the present paper offers a radically different outlook and ultimately two conclusions are drawn. First, rather than engaging in conversations with fellow proponents of technological solutions, scholars in this emerging field ought to spend more time responding to those who seriously question technology’s ability to deliver environmental and social sustainability. Second, if technology educators are sincere about wanting to promote technical literacy more broadly, the eco-innovation curriculum must be supplemented with perspectives that interrogate the prospects for a ‘green’ modernity.



curriculum; education for sustainable development; political ecology; sustainable development; technical literacy; technology critique; technology education

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education