As a term in educational debate, ‘the learning society’ has come and gone, and come and gone yet again. It may be time to reclaim it once more but to do so, the idea of the learning society needs to be buttressed in a number of ways. Ploys adopted here are those of pursuing the matter as to what it is for a society to learn and to do so by coupling to it the notions of the public sphere, but understood now as public spheres (plural), and of societal learning as a set of learning systems. Centrally, however, an ecological perspective may be especially helpful, in particular by bringing into view the relationship between society as a learning ecology and the knowledge ecology and seeing in that relationship a creative ecology of spirit. The thesis here is that the learning society, understood as a learning ecology, still has mileage in it. Further, this thesis has implications for the place of the university in society: the university has unfulfilled potential and even new possibilities in recovering a surer sighting of the learning society. So as to flesh out this thesis, the fact that some universities are now looking to see how they might address the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals is examined.