In this regard, we examine the barriers faced by a ‘post-normal’ education for sustainable development (ESD) inherent within the structures of a ‘normal’ University. We pose the question whether Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) as a post-normal process can contribute to increased capacity of normal higher education institutions to address complex sustainability problems? IWRM is conceptualised as an interactionist process of social learning and adaptive management to reflect on the experiences from one particular case, namely the Master Programme in IWRM at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

We illustrate how IWRM can contribute to address conflicts of interests in education arising from competing claims of stakeholders in real life management situations, but also to reconcile the conflicts associated with institutional adaptation under conditions characterised by a new international educational regime and rapidly changing market conditions. The paper brings together the discourse on ESD with lessons from IWRM and contends that the interactionist approach might offer a useful alternative to realist conceptions of ESD in learner-centred and institutional systemic approaches. Contrary to other reports on IWRM education, this paper reflects on this role of IWRM within higher education per se.

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