Sustainability Education for the well-being of oneself and others

Professor Hideki Maruyama from the Faculty of Global Studies undertakes research on Sustainability Education. What is required for the well-being of oneself, others, and the natural environment now and in the future? He searches for a way in which everyone can proactively think about this and create futures together.

I undertake research about Sustainability Education, based on Comparative and International Education. Sustainability Education aims to create sustainable environments through actively designing and working with others for the well-being of oneself and others, both in the present and the future. It is also referred to as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Japan.

Well-being is a state where an individual has good mental and physical conditions and is also socially satisfied. When we talk about “others” in this context, we refer not just to other humans but also include animals, plants, and the natural environment.

Modern education in Japan follows a firmly structured formal education where adults intervene to systematically teach children. Students are taught the same thing in each subject, with the natural assumption that everyone obtains the same results. Formal education also tends to be judged on whether or not it can produce something that will be useful in the future.

However, this rigid approach is sometimes too much for the learners. If we believe official knowledge is the only knowledge, we tend to ignore and exclude other possibilities. As we grow and get old, something other than the standard should be equally valued as legitimate.

Focusing on Non-formal Education we learn in everyday life

My research focuses on Non-formal Education as part of lifelong and life-wide learning, which often occurs out of structured formal education and can be also seen in everyday life such as our conversations, play, work, and hobbies. We need to integrate knowledge and experiences we obtained in order to solve the real world problems instead of using what school lessons teach.

If our experience has value to ourselves, it could be a meaningful educational opportunity no matter how irrelevant to others. Using such experiences and knowledge to think about creating a better future state for everything that exists on Earth—including oneself—and to take action should give rise to one’s own unique sustainability.

People talk about changing education for children for the sake of the future, but I feel that alone is irresponsible. It is the adults that created the present situation, and thus, they should reflect on themselves first. For example, it is necessary to reexamine one’s state for each life event and continue to learn throughout one’s lifetime.

Thinking about education with a view of the future 100 years ahead

In my research, I place importance on directly listening to people through fieldwork. While I also carry out analysis of questionnaires using statistics, there are also many things that cannot be understood from average values. When listening to them, I keep in mind to discuss and learn from each other about the systems in the background.

My research may not be immediately useful to someone. However, I hope that people can encounter accumulated research when they self-reflect as part of the growing process, and that they will use such opportunities as impetus for creating their own sustainable futures. Besides the micro perspectives taught in schools, I hope to continue to think about education with a view of the future 100 years ahead.

The book I recommend

“How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”
by Dale Carnegie, Pocket Books

I was troubled by everything in life as a high school student. After entering university, I encountered this book and learned that everyone faced the same issues and realized there was no need to worry about being worried. Using plain English, it is easy to read, and I also recommend it for high school students.

Hideki Maruyama

  • Professor
    Department of Global Studies
    Faculty of Global Studies

Graduated from the Department of Science Education, School of Education, Okayama University and joined the JICA volunteer program. Studied Educational Sciences at the Graduate School of Middle East Technical University in Turkey, received his master’s degree in education at the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, Hiroshima University, and Ph.D. in Graduate School of Human Sciences, Sophia University. Took on the positions of senior researcher at the Department for International Research and Co-operation, National Institute for Educational Policy Research-MEXT, and associate professor at Sophia University’s Center for Global Education and Discovery before his current position. During this time, also served concurrently in positions such as an advisor for Literacy and Non-formal Education at JICA, an official OECD-PISA steering board member, and a member of the steering committee of the UNESCO ESD Conference.

Department of Global Studies

Interviewed: December 2023

Sophia University

For Others, With Others