• curricula;
  • industrial ecology;
  • interdisciplinarity;
  • pedagogy;
  • sociology of knowledge;
  • sustainability


Although environmental education and education for sustainable development have become well-established areas of scholarship and practice, there has not been a similar development focused on “industrial ecology education.” A review of the historical context and guiding philosophies for each of these areas finds many similarities, as well as key differences. Environmental education traces its modern roots to the idealism of the 1960s and 1970s. It has focused mostly on improving environmental conditions. Education for sustainable development arose along with international concerns about social justice. It has emphasized general education as well as education about sustainability as necessary to ensure human prosperity. Industrial ecology, in its contemporary form, evolved as an applied approach to address environmental concerns and to meet sustainability goals. It has developed into a diverse, multifaceted approach to address the complexity inherent in industrial society. Education focused on industrial ecology remains decentralized, with core principles and tools being integrated into existing disciplinary programs as well as development of industrial-ecology–specific curricula. These efforts have not coalesced into a formalized, industrial ecology education. Rather than reflecting a shortcoming, this potentially offers a more robust method for applying industrial ecology principles and tools widely.