This contribution provides an 'outside' commentary on several of the articles provided in this special issue on environmental education and education in the context of sustainability in Denmark and Sweden. Although there is no uniform position or shared single outlook expressed in the articles in this special issue, there are some re-current tendencies that may have received less attention elsewhere in the world but clearly are in need of further investigation there as well. These tendencies are delicately intertwined and include: (1) a concern for democracy and participation minimally distorted by inevitable power imbalances; (2) a commitment to solidarity and preservation of the public good, including the outdoors; (3) a privileging of transactional and dialogical forms of meaning-making characterized by indeterminism and co-creation; (4) the need to reflect on and expose the, often-times, implicit normativity of education in general and of education for sustainable development in particular. It is suggested that these tendencies are quite crucial, but are also at odds with the increasing sense of urgency in dealing with sustainability challenges and a corresponding temptation to revert to instrumentalism. At the same time elevating these tendencies to norms or universal principles is internally inconsistent with the principles themselves.