Rethinking the Talloires Declaration

William Adlong (Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The purpose of this article is to critique constructively and complement the Talloires Declaration with a focus on social and cultural elements that shape action. These elements are important to achieving the needed response to the environmental issues that the Talloires Declaration highlights. While the Talloires Declaration has been significant and successful in a number of ways, it does not make clearly visible the social conditioning that – beyond information and knowledge about issues – has such a determining influence on action and environmental literacy.


In this article the action and change the Talloires Declaration seeks to achieve is considered against a backdrop of selected social theory and education for sustainability literature. This literature provides insights on the social change that is part of bringing about environmental improvement.


Patterns of thinking and acting that determine whether action on the environment is taken, an important aspect of environmental literacy, are on the whole determined intersubjectively and reside in perspectives and orientations that are largely tacit. Guidance to university staff to achieve the aims of the Talloires Declaration should keep in focus the need for transformation of social and cultural conditioning and entrenched, unquestioned perspectives and ways of being that strongly influence student and staff action. Staff committed to sustainability will want to consider modes through which such transformation can be fostered.


For those concerned with the Talloires Declaration, this article offers considerations important in orienting universities' responses to urgent environmental issues. Few articles have proposed that this foundational document for university commitments to sustainability needs to be rethought with the benefit of passing time and in view of a wider, and largely subsequent, literature.



Adlong, W. (2013), "Rethinking the Talloires Declaration", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 56-70.

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