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Learning experiences from a time-geographic approach—commodity chains, globalization, everyday life, and sustainability in context

Journal article
Authors Åsa Westermark
Bodil Jansund
Published in Journal of geography in higher education
Volume 43
Issue 4
Pages 486-504
ISSN 0309-8265
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Pages 486-504
Language en
Keywords Time geography, ESD, contextual learning, teacher education, commodity chains, everyday life
Subject categories Human Geography


Education for sustainable development demands teaching approaches that capture multidimensional and integrated aspects of environmental, social, economic, and political factors. In geography, additional aspects require attention, such as understanding how peoples’ everyday lives, living conditions, and business relations depend on contextual circumstances including place, time, and scales. This article presents a time-geographic teaching approach that enables systems thinking through contextual analysis. We present a time-geographically inspired educational approach which was implemented at a Swedish university in a yearly course, from 2007 to 2015 (9 years in total). Next, we review 48 student exam papers regarding how students performed a time-geographic contextual analysis of commodity chains and sustainability. We found that the teaching approach encouraged multiple descriptions and reflections by students. It developed students’ abilities to apply geographic concepts and to identify complex relationships in time and space that define sustainability challenges and strategies. Students linked everyday life to global and local processes.

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