Journal of East China Normal University(Educational Sciences) ›› 2023, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (12): 58-73.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2023.12.006

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Wizard and Prophet: A Comparative Study of Two Philosophies, Initiatives, and Pedagogical Models in International Environmental Education

Shaoyang Wu1, Zhengmei Peng2   

  1. 1. Institute of International and Comparative Education & Institute for Hongkong, Macau and Taiwan Teaching Materials, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2. Institute of International and Comparative Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Online:2023-12-01 Published:2023-11-27


Two distinct environmental science perspectives dominate strategies for addressing the ecological crisis. The Prophets emphasize restraint and reduction, advocating for a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, while the Wizards champion creation, ambition, and development, transforming threats into opportunities through technological innovation. This divergence is also mirrored in various environmental education initiatives. UNESCO’s advocacy for Sustainable Development Goals and a new social contract aligns closely with the Prophet’s emphasis on self-restraint and the pursuit of ecological justice. In contrast, the OECD’s capability initiative and its metric-driven approach reflect the Wizards’ reverence for technocentrism and instrumental rationality. This ideological split has further molded two distinct paths in environmental education practices: one emphasizing the cultivation of eco-friendly awareness and values, termed the disciplinary model, and the other focusing on nurturing environmental scientific literacy and advanced competencies, known as the empowerment model. There is a possibility of merging the two approaches in theory and practice, and their balance and integration can help build a sustainable future.

Key words: environmental education, ecological justice, technological optimism, higher-order abilities, Wizard and Prophet.