While discussions surrounding education for sustainable development (ESD) are diverse, most scholars and policy makers view student-centered learning (SCL) as axiomatic. In contrast, we argue that promoting SCL potentially stymies educational contributions to sustainability by extending a culturally specific belief in ontological individualism. We first highlight that countries committed to SCL tend to be dominated by ontological individualism and then show that these same countries score lower on a range of social and environmental sustainability indices. Moreover, countries where the belief in ontological individualism reigns tend to be liberal market economies, an institutional arrangement largely ineffective or even detrimental to social and environmental sustainability. In raising these issues, we seek less to provide a definitive account of the key relationships than to catalyze a deeper conversation about how to reimagine the taken-for-granted logics of education as the sustainability imperative looms.
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