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From ‘the conscience of humanity’ to the conscious human brain: UNESCO’s embrace of social-emotional learning as a flag of convenience

Bryan, Audrey orcid logoORCID: 0000-0002-0888-9276 (2022) From ‘the conscience of humanity’ to the conscious human brain: UNESCO’s embrace of social-emotional learning as a flag of convenience. Compare . ISSN 0305-7925

This article analyses UNESCO’s advocacy of social emotional learning (SEL) as key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—particularly SDG target 4.7. It interrogates the agency’s growing emphasis on digital SEL and conscious ‘whole brain’ approaches as part of a wider neuroliberal turn towards the behavioural, psychological and neurological sciences and considers their implications for UNESCO’s status as the ‘conscience of humanity.’ It argues that ‘SEL for SDGs’ operates as a ‘flag of convenience’ hoisted by UNESCO to garner legitimacy in a global governance landscape increasingly shaped by private/corporate interests, new (tech-based) philanthropy, and neoliberal policies and funding infrastructures. It demonstrates how the privileging of biological and neuropsychological explanations for complex global problems is reconfiguring UNESCO’s global citizenship work towards a depoliticised, individualistic and neuroliberally-inflected ‘conscious human brain’ response to complex societal challenges which forestalls political dialogue and undermines an appreciation of their material and economic determinants.
Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Global competencies; global citizenship; neuroliberalism; EdTech; social-emotional learning; UNESCO
Subjects:Social Sciences > Educational technology
Social Sciences > Social psychology
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Institute of Education > School of Human Development
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Official URL:https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2022.2129956
Copyright Information:© 2022The Authors.
ID Code:27885
Deposited On:25 Oct 2022 08:59 by Audrey Bryan . Last Modified 14 Mar 2023 14:52

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