30 SES 07 B, Informal ESE
This paper explores the development and early days of a contemporary science center in the western parts of Denmark. Building on an ongoing ethnographic field study in and around the organization and through engagements with new materialist lines of thought, I aim to outline some defining tensions between different values in the making of this non-formal environmental education institution. By paying attention to values, I strive to open up discussions on how matters such as place, economy, architecture and content-design entangle and affect the pedagogical potentials of the institution that emerges.
Naturkraft (‘force of nature’), as is the name of the science center, consists of a 50 hectares park and a 2,000-m2 exhibition hall built on a former rye-field on the outskirts of the Danish town Ringkøbing. The overarching ambition in designing and establishing the park and exhibitions has been to cultivate visitors’ knowledge and actions in favor of sustainable development. As the name of the park indicates, this ambition materializes in designs and activities inspired by (a very broad definition of) the forces of nature. Hence, in an ESE-perspective (environmental and sustainability education) this park is particularly interesting due to its whole-institution focus on sustainability. Furthermore, being a hybrid between a tourist attraction, a recreational site for locals, a non-formal environmental educational facility and a large-scale built ‘natural’ environment, Naturkraft as a case offers exemplary insights into dilemmas of conflicting values in developing non-formal ESE-initiatives (Esson & Moss, 2013; Falk, Heimlich, & Foutz, 2009; Johns & Pontes, 2019).
Matters of value(s) have played a significant role within ESE-research over the last decades. Understood as overarching systems of belief, value-concepts have anchored discussions on the influence of conflicting world-views on environmental concerns within contemporary society (MacGregor, 1984; Reid, 2013). Understood as personal belief or moral stance, values have been targeted in educational designs as a way of influencing and redirecting individual behaviors and actions towards more sustainable aims – whether induced by expert knowledge (Döbler, 1995) or scrutinized through critical (self-)reflection (Mogensen & Schnack, 2010; UNESCO, 2017). Furthermore, considerations on value as monetary economy has attracted attention within ESE research, especially in the form of Marxist-inspired discussions on the workings and effects of the market and Capitalism (Scott & Vare, 2021, pp. 62-65).
However, in light of newer material and sociomaterial currents in ESE research (Clarke & Mcphie, 2020), I propose a renewed look upon matters of value in ESE. Drawing on inspiration from anthropologists Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing and Tim Ingold, I analyze Naturkraft with an interest in what I term as value-lines. This concept builds on Ingold’s idea of reading the becomings of the world in terms of lines (Ingold, 2010, 2015), while at the same time hinting at the economic value- and supply-chain-metaphors that Anna Tsing put to analytical work in her seminal book The Mushroom at the End of the World (Tsing, 2015). Furthermore, both scholars pay tribute to the ideas of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, not least their idea of the assemblage, which also give shape to my theoretical considerations (Deleuze & Guattari, 2004).
In and around the Naturkraft organization, the development process – or journey, as the people involved like to describe it – is most often retold as a struggle between human actors with different interests: the local community, the municipality, the private foundations, the architects, the engineers and the tireless park manager. The ambition with this paper is to introduce non-human agency into stories like these, thereby considering the influence of more-than-human matters to this particular educational practice as well as related ESE practices.
The ideas laid out in this paper represents a part of a PhD project, in which I, through ethnographic fieldwork, investigates the pedagogical potentials of Naturkaft as an arena for ESE in practice. The focus in this paper represents my attempt at coming to terms with some of the overarching sociomaterial relations that constitute part of the Naturkraft-assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 2004; Mannion, 2019). In this, I acknowledge the affects macro-circumstances can have on seemingly miniscule details in the educational practice at Naturkraft – and vice versa. In order to trace the value-lines that weave in and out of the development process, I have made use of three overlapping approaches, listed here in random order: 1) I analyze the ‘becoming of’-exhibition in Naturkraft and the book Blæst bagover (‘Blown away’)(Vesterby, Have, Rauff, & Laursen, 2020), published as part of the opening celebrations; 2) I analyze documents from the developmental process – design guides for buildings as well as exhibition content; and 3) I interview people that has played particularly influential roles in shaping the institution. Each of these approaches pays attention to different ways, in which the Naturkraft-assemblage is ‘put into stories’ – an approach guided by Tsing’s simple yet ambitious methodical prescription: “To listen to and tell a rush of stories […]” (Tsing, 2015, p. 37). Following Tsing, this implies a focus on indeterminate encounters resulting in contaminated diversity (Tsing, 2015). Hereby Tsing emphasizes the contingent interplay of human as well as non-human beings in the shaping of our contemporary world. Hence, with Tsing I pay attention to the ways, in which more-than-human aspects feature – explicitly as well as implicitly - in the stories on the becomings of Naturkraft. Thereby I aim to open up critical interrogations into the complexities and potentialities of developing ESE-practices outside of formal education assemblages, yet within sociomaterial circumstances that I consider exemplary to multiple contemporary ESE development projects.
Naturkraft represents a radical experiment into combining education, information, experience and entertainment in a large-scale material manifestation. It is experimental without direct national or global counterparts, and has the possibility to reframe understandings of links between formal and non-formal education on environmental and sustainability topics. The questions of value, and how these tie to materialist perspectives on humans and the more-than-human, centers on the potential for further development of a critical analytical approach to anthropocentrism in ESE and education more generally. By tying Tsing’s take on stories to Ingold’s take on all phenomena’s weaving becoming in assemblages, this paper contributes an approach to restorying the sociomaterial processes we set in motion as well as plug into when developing education.
Clarke, D. A. G., & Mcphie, J. (2020). Tensions, knots, and lines of flight: themes and directions of tracel for new materialism and environmental education. Environmental Education Research, 26(9-10). doi:10.1080/13504622.2020.1825631 Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2004). A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic. Döbler, M. (1995). Common values and value conflicts in environmental education. History of European Ideas, 21(1), 37-46. Esson, M., & Moss, A. (2013). The Risk of Delivering Disturbing Messages to Zoo Family Audiences. Journal of Environmental Education, 44(2), 79-96. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2012.695408 Falk, J. H., Heimlich, J. E., & Foutz, S. (Eds.). (2009). Free-Choice learning and the Environment. Plymouth, UK: AltaMira Press. Ingold, T. (2010). The textility of making. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34, 91-102. doi:10.1093/cje/bep042 Ingold, T. (2015). The Life of Lines. Oxon: Routledge. Johns, R. A., & Pontes, R. (2019). Parks, Rhetoric and Environmental Education: Challenges and Opportunities for Enhancing Ecoliteracy. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 22(1), 1-19. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s42322-019-0029-x MacGregor, J. (1984). Values to live by. The Journal of Environmental Education, 15(2), 1-2. Mannion, G. (2019). Re-assembling environmental and sustainability education: orientations from new materialism. Environmental Education Research, 1-20. doi:10.1080/13504622.2018.1536926 Mogensen, F., & Schnack, K. (2010). The action competence approach and the 'new' discourses of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria. Environmental Education Research, 16(1), 59-74. doi:10.1080/12504620903504032 Reid, A. (2013). Normalising catastrophe in environmental discourse: on educational values, responses and critical imagination. Environmental Education Research, 19(2), 154-160. doi:10.1080/13504622.2013.789281 Scott, W., & Vare, P. (2021). Learning, Environment and Sustainable Development. Oxon: Routledge. Tsing, A. L. (2015). The mushroom at the End of the World. On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. UNESCO. (2017). Education for Sustainable Development Goals. Learning Objectives. In. Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Vesterby, J., Have, J., Rauff, M., & Laursen, E. B. (Eds.). (2020). Blæst bagover: Naturkraft.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.