The idea for the project "Know your Lifestyle - Introducing Sustainable Consumption in Second Chance Education" was based on the fact that development education and issues of globalisation and sustainability are practically not subject of the curricula of Second Chance-education in Europe.

In cooperation with Second Chance-teachers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaged in development education, the didactic materials and workshop modules in this publication on different topics of sustainable consumption such as “Renewable Energies”, “Mobile Phones”, “Water as a Global Good”, “Global Good Production in the Textile Industry” and “Human Energy” have been compiled and developed to fill this gap.

Therefore, working meetings with teachers were organised. First teaching concepts and ideas were presented to the teachers to obtain constructive feedback and detailed information regarding the characteristics of the target group and the organisational framework of Second Chance-programmes. At a later stage, in all project countries first teacher workshops were implemented to train an extended number of teachers in the use of the materials. By means of such events the participants were enabled to work with the preliminary materials themselves, to test these and already to work on the basis of the proposed topics of development education on globalisation contexts in their courses. This way, in all project countries already a certain number of project events in Second Chanceprogrammes could be implemented in the course of which it was possible to obtain feedback directly from the young adults enrolled in the programmes as the final target group. It was important for us to find out whether the materials were applicable in the courses and appropriate for the target audience, whether interest on part of the participants in the topics could be sparked and whether the participants enjoyed the events and the chosen methodology. According to this experience gained, the materials could again be revised and optimised.

The aim of the project

The aim of the project is to inform young adults like the participants in Second Chance-programmes about the linkages between personal, local consumption and the global impact connected to it. It provides young adults the opportunity to look critically at individual consumption patterns and to develop alternative and more sustainable patterns of action.

The participants of Second Chance-programmes in Europe are rarely confronted with development issues in their daily lives. They are a special target group with particular learning needs: Most of them are young adults with a migration and/or difficult social background who may often experience merely little support for a sound education by their families. But with their upcoming entrance into working life they are in an important phase of their life. In the Second Chance-programmes they engage in order to improve their chances for their future. With the elaboration of the educational materials at hand we attempted to develop an innovative pedagogical approach for discussing the topic of sustainable consumption and issues of globalisation with participants in Second Chance-programmes. Of course, we hope that the materials will as well appeal to other actors engaged in various fields of education and that also other target groups will be able to work with them.

We are not claiming that the people participating in such events will be educated for becoming entirely informed and enlightened consumers. The events are designed to give participants an impetus for becoming aware of the topic of sustainability, of global connections and of the question of global justice, to put them in an informed position in case they should be in their future everyday lives be again confronted with the issue, and possibly to enable them to act consciously and sustainably in one or another future situation. All this without raising the admonishing trigger finger and appealing to their individual "guilty conscience". Awareness of sustainable consumption is a challenge, almost a science in itself in the face of the bulk of information and the complexity today’s life is providing us with.


European Association for the Education of Adults European Association for the Education of Adults
Estonian Non-formal Adult Education Association Estonian Non-formal Adult Education Association
Slovenian Institute for Adult Education Slovenian Institute for Adult Education
Die Kärntner Volkshochschulen Die Kärntner Volkshochschulen
DVV International DVV International

Cooperating Partners


Learning Sustainability

In the age of globalisation, the world is moving closer together. And the buzzword globalisation does not only adhere to the boundless flow of information and capital but also the merging of cultures and a joint responsibility for the future. At the latest with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 it became clear that dwindling resources, growing environmental problems and increasing social inequalities affect the entire world and therefore all governments and societies are encouraged to bear responsibility for a viable and sustainable development.

Therefore, as well the governments of the European Union committed themselves to the basic dimensions of global sustainable development recognised in Rio de Janeiro: environmental and resource conservation, social sustainability and economic viability. Therewith, the governments acknowledge that their societies are in a learning process in which antiquated patterns of thought regarding development and underdevelopment are losing their validity and education for sustainable development must be given a more significant value. The universal responsibility of people worldwide for a socially and environmentally friendly behaviour requires a deeper understanding of the relationships between consumption patterns and the finiteness of resources, as well as an understanding of the links between consumption patterns in the countries of the northern hemisphere and the living and working conditions of people in the countries of the southern hemisphere.

Global learning

Global Learning is a possible pedagogic answer to issues of global development and questions of the future. It is an educational response that is based on the principle of sustainable development and internationally binding human rights treaties.

In this interdisciplinary approach the understanding of global economic, political, social and environmental contexts is considered as a cross-cutting issue of education - an educational concept that touches all topics.

The purpose of Global Learning is to increase the understanding of the problems of the modern world and its consequences, both locally and globally. Global Learning encourages learners for a change of perspective and a reflection of their individual patterns of thought and behaviour. Such learning is important because it helps people to recognise their own role and the individual and collective responsibility they have as active members of a global society in regards to efforts for social and economic justice for all and the protection and restoration of ecosystems on our planet.

Global Learning is not a strict and regulated educational programme, but rather an open, preliminary and multi-faceted approach of contemporary general education. Global Learning should be fun. It uses a variety of interactive and participatory learning methods.

Didactically and methodologically Global Learning requires teaching and learning methods which are interdisciplinary, participatory and action- and experience-oriented, because Global Learning is both promoting cognitive as well as social and practical competencies. Thus, Global Learning does not target a particular field of knowledge, but aims at acquiring key competences and skills that people - today and in the future - need to live in a responsible, solidary and sustainable manner as world citizens ("think global – act local").

“Recognising, Evaluating and Acting” and the respective interplay of these spheres of competence are promoted. Thereby, reference is made to the living environment of the learners: Even if always one has to be careful dealing with the question of one’s own realistic capabilities and actual individual power, learners shall be enabled to analyse their own position in society, to form their own opinion and to actively participate in political processes.

Sustainable consumption

Globalisation can be found everywhere in our day-to-day lives, starting with our shirt from Bangladesh, the cup of coffee brewed with beans from Guatemala right up to our mobile phone which would not function without coltan from the Republic of Congo.

Shopping knows no closing time, because via internet we can always purchase. Consumption imparts experience. Consumption socialises, gives meaning to our life and shapes our modern lifestyle.

Consumerism is an expression of societal development and individualism. Consumption sometimes appears as natural as eating, drinking, being mobile or working.

The media and advertising affect our consumption behaviour: products, music or outfits represent a certain style. The “proper attitude to life” and the “right perception” is organised by third parties on the market: via buying the "right products". Often, social recognition and an improvement of personal status are connected to it. Thus, in the end we all buy even things we actually do not need.

In view of a constantly growing world population and limited resources on our planet, however, the question arises how in future the needs of according to estimations by the United Nations more than 9,5 billion people in the year 2050 will be met and how participation of all people in the world can be assured. Solely the consumption of households in Europe is responsible for more than a quarter of all European greenhouse gas emissions. In this share the emissions connected to the production process of the consumer goods is not even included.

This means: the consumption of products increasingly influences both the economic and social situation of the people worldwide and the state of the environment. In the production process, in the consumption and in the use of a product lays great potential for minimising the environmental impact and for reducing global injustice. The point is to recognise and to use this potential, to hold a discussion about our lifestyles and about our responsibilities also in terms of consumption.

Of course there is the principle of “stop buying” or Consumption Renunciation. This principle focusses on the consideration whether you really need a new product or repair an old one, whether you buy a used product or make a new product by upcycling an old one.

Contrary to that, there is the concept of Sustainable Consumption (also ecological or ethical consumption). Sustainable Consumption is part of a sustainable lifestyle and a consumer behaviour itself: Buying ecologically and socially responsible products may exercise political influence on global problems. It may reduce the economic, the ecological and the social costs of our lifestyle.

A prominent example of the global dimension of purchase decisions are efforts to fair trade. Consumers should choose a more expensive good of a small producer in a developing country, thus supporting fair working conditions. As well, with a purchase decision the operating and follow-up costs of a product should be considered and decisive. This applies also to the subsequent power efficiency as well as for the repairability or the long-life cycle of a product.

Following the principle of sustainable development, consumption is sustainable if it meets the needs of the present generations without jeopardising the prospects of future generations. Sustainable consumption therefore reaches into our individual lifestyle. The sustainable consumer is the ecologically and socially responsible citizen. Sustainable consumption first of all means conscious consumption: to have a closer look and to keep in mind one’s personal "overall balance". Sustainability as a quality characteristic of products should be the guiding principle for consumers as well as for the economy and the public sector in Europe.

But how can we prepare and accompany especially young people on their way into a globalised and "connected" world in terms of viable and sustainable development? How can we convey to them the knowledge about local and global developments and challenges? How can we make them aware of sustainable options for action?

The project "Know your Lifestyle – Introducing Sustainable Consumption in Second Chance Education" would like to offer particularly young adults the opportunity to have a look beyond the horizon of their own lifestyles.