Over the last decades, the extent of human impact on Earth and the atmosphere has been the subject of large-scale scientific investigations. It is increasingly argued that this impact is of a geologically-significant magnitude, to the extent that we have entered a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene. However, the field of Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD) research has been slow in engaging in the Anthropocene debates. This article addresses that research gap by offering a theoretical analysis of the role and position of HESD, and more particularly of the lecturer and the student, within the Anthropocene. At present, the majority of HESD research can be categorized as either instrumental or emancipatory. This article’s central aim is to develop a third, navigational approach toward HESD research. In order to do so, the article first argues that developing understandings of the Anthropocene reconfigure traditional humanist conceptualizations of time, space and collectives. The article proceeds with advancing new, relational conceptualizations of educational spaces (as learning milieus), educational times (as rhythms that slow the present) and learning (as a situated activity that takes place through belonging). Embedded within these new conceptualizations, the proposed navigational approach aims to enable educational actors to orient themselves and to consequently navigate in, and to learn by making connections with, our more-than-human world.
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