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Transformative Learning as a Ground-Up Approach to Sustainable Development:Narratives from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

As the Vietnamese government continues to seek appropriate actions to move the national action on climate change forward, the emergence of grassroots sustainability initiatives has the potential to promote sustainability from the ground up. This paper reviews the current concepts of transformative learning (T-learning) and its importance through which some substantial linkages between T-learning and sustainability can be identified. It outlines the environmental changes in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, which appear to serve as “disorienting dilemmas” that force the local people to learn and gradually transform their behaviors and lifestyle choices to align with a lowcarbon and sustainable development. In an ideal T-learning approach, the major beneficiaries are the small-scale farmers, women, and ethnic groups (learners). They learn by doing under the supervision of educators (experts) in field-based schools that offer real-life experience and encourage learners to shift from traditional farming practices to modern, eco-friendly agricultural models that promote local economic self-reliance and biodiversity conservation. The paper sheds new light on how a critical approach to education for sustainable development through T-learning is an appropriate form and why T-learning should be acknowledged as an important part of the broader approach to self-help, climate resilient development in vulnerable communities.

Vol. 16 No. 2, December 2019

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