Linking health education and sustainability education in schools: Local transformations of international policy

Katrine Dahl Madsen, Lone Lindegaard Nordin, Venka Simovska

11 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter addresses the relationship between international and national policies regarding sustainability and health promotion which have the potential to affect school-based health education/promotion and education for sustainable development in Denmark. Based on policy mapping and analysis, the focus is on the transformation processes that occur during the transition from international policy frameworks to the national context. The chapter considers the consequences of these transformation processes for educational practices within schools in light of the current major reform of basic general education in Denmark with its aims of ensuring overall school improvement, increasing pupil wellbeing and improving academic outcomes. Analysis of international policy documents, as well as of research literature shows that school-based health education (HE) and education for sustainable development (ESD) share a number of features. These include a whole-school approach, cross-disciplinarity, participatory approaches, cultivating social imagination, and developing critical competences related to working with ‘real life’ health and sustainability issues. The discussion in this chapter focuses on the common tendency that when health and sustainability education in schools are framed in national action plans, certain critical educational aspects are lost by narrowing the concepts of health and sustainability to fit particular school subjects (e.g. physical education or science), and defining outcomes solely in terms of individual lifestyle factors. This neglects the importance of working with broader social values and the complexity of the interplay between individual and society in relation to both health and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchools for Health and Sustainability: Theory, Research and Practice
Number of pages22
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Publication date1 Jan 2015
ISBN (Print)9789401791700
ISBN (Electronic)9789401791717
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Education for sustainable development
  • Health education
  • Health-promoting schools
  • Policy


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