30 SES 07 A, ESE and the Anthropocene
As environmental and sustainability issues, such as biodiversity loss, human-induced climate injustice, and habitat destruction continue to threaten life for all on the planet, transformative sustainability educational programming is needed to make an adequate response in the timescale required. As environmental and sustainability education (ESE) changes and develop over time (Somerville 2018), we wish to build further on the rise of interest in the application of New Materialism to research and to pedagogies (Clarke and Mcphie 2020). Critics of stewardship approaches in ESE, suggest that at a time of the Anthropocene (Crutzen 2002), when we need to radically alter our relations with the environment, these approaches fail because they essentialise and render nature passive under human control where “humans have exceptional capacities, not only to alter, damage or destroy, but also to manage, protect and save an exteriorized (non-social) environment” (Taylor, 2017, p. 1453). In response to these criticism and contexts, across three doctoral studies and other funded projects (accounted for in four cited articles - three in print, 1 under review), the authors here seek to coalesce and synthesise their diverse findings in the ongoing effort to reshape ESE pedagogies in the epoch of the Anthropocene. As Mannion (2019) outlines, we need:
a de-centring of the human in our ontologies and epistemologies (for example, in solely looking to the needs of humans in definitions of sustainability or in child-centred approaches), a countering of human exceptionalism in general towards a relational orientation (in terms of, for example, human-plant, human-animal, human-place), a revision of ‘stewardship’ views of the environment (with its paternalistic associations of sympathy, mastery and control), a greater acceptance of environmental crisis of the Anthropocene (particularly climate change, but in connected ways food insecurity, migration, and so on).
In these studies, and related outputs, all authors have drawn upon New Materialist and posthumanist approaches to (a) reframe emerging pedagogies (using the idea of ‘assemblage’ after Deleuze and Guattari), (b) delineate better the role of the ‘More-than-Human’ (Whatmore 2002) in educator planning, and (c) outlined some of the differences encounters with other species and the more-than-human can make in the ‘lived curricula’ (Aoki 2004) of emerging ESE pedagogies. In this research paper for ECER 2021, we seek to link the project insights to further advance what we mean by ‘place-responsive ESE in the Anthropocene’ (see Lynch and Mannion 2021). In this assemblage-oriented ESE (Mannion 2019), we will be less concerned with essences as we more fully embrace a relational and processual approach. ESE in the Anthropocene then becomes an on-going experiment based on evocative productive pedagogies of desire for change.
First we summarise some of the insights from these related projects before addressing their synthesis.
Methodology The approach taken here is collaborative reflective review by all authors across four + projects. Our method has not been to conduct secondary analysis of previous data sets. However, we do bring these projects together via a consideration of their arising insights and findings with a view to synthesizing these across studies. Project 1 In Mannion (2019), we learned about the project, Stories in the Land, a place-responsive, arts-based, outdoor environmental education programme involving participants from different generations with local places through journeys on the ‘drove roads’ of Scotland. In that ethnographic account, Mannion argued that ‘Assemblage pedagogy’ involves educating for more sustainable ways of life through: (1) Interrupting existing education assemblages and experimenting with new approaches, (2) Practicing, relating, and entangling ‘from the middle’, involving the human and more-than-human to actualise the capacities and relations needed, and, (3) Evoking and performing new practices and expressions designed to create more sustainable ways of life. Project 2 Drawing on New Materialist frameworks for environmental and sustainability education, Lynch and Mannion (2021) extend and deepen our understanding of contemporary place-responsive pedagogies in Anthropocene. Originally, they explored the role of the more-than-human in educators’ planning and enactment of place-responsive pedagogies. Place-responsive pedagogies (see Mannion Fenwick and Lynch 2013, for an earlier orientation) are newly shown to be derived from ongoing attunements reciprocally made by all participants to each other – educators, learners, and the more-than-human – and between the place of learning and these participants. Of note is how educators need to notice the response making between learners and the more-than-human elements found in the place of that education. Project 3 & 4 In Ruck’s doctoral study (Ruck and Mannion 2020, Ruck under review) of the ‘PolliNation project, we hear about a UK wide project which engaged young people from 260 primary and secondary schools in the transformation of their school grounds into pollinator-friendly habitats. There, we learn about the importance of interspecies relations – the palpable excitement among pupils in response to what were often unplanned encounters. Again, open, rational and non-rational, embodied, affective attunements are important if we are to emable humans to relate differently to nonhumans (see Lloro-Bidart 2016). Ramjan (doctoral study on-going) finds similar encounters of relevance, this time via the activity of citizen science in secondary schools on the topic of climate change and soil.
1. Educators are still important. In a posthumanist new materialist frame, the role of the pedagogue is still based on expertise. Educators need to be aware of the need for skilled approaches to improving human and more-than-human relations over time – time spent in places. We can consider the need for better forms of educational environmental citizen science for example. Attunement is a keynote idea. 2. Places are still important. People will change and develop better relations through educational engagements with / in and through places wherein more-than-human elements are palpable and can be responded to reciprocally. 3. Place-responsive pedagogy is about reciprocal response making. Places and people respond to each other, as climate change is teaching us. Education, therefore, needs to intervene within the very process that create, sustain and change our place-based relations. For this reason, ESE is always critically transformative and relationally so in a given place. 4. Lastly, - though these are not the only insights of possible importance to arise – since ESE needs to be transformative and is ontologically relationally based, we need to identify the relations of most importance as targets for our pedagogical experimental interventions. These are likely to include – for example – intergenerational relations (especially in relation to indigenous knowledge and climate injustice), intercontinental relations between the Global South and North (we can consider the need for a decolonial approach), and interspecies relations (see Tsing 2013) (especially those that affect biodiversity loss through our consumption patterns).
Aoki, T. T. 2004. Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki. London: Routledge. Crutzen, P. J. 2002. “Geology of Mankind.” Nature 415 (6867): 23. doi:10.1038/415023a. Clarke, David A. G. and Mcphie, Jamie (202 0) Tensions, knots, and lines of flight: themes and directions of travel for new materialism and environmental education. Environmental Education Research, 26 (9-1 0). pp. 1-24. Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (2013/1987). A thousand plateaus. Bloomsbury Academic. London. UK Fox, N.J., and P. Alldred. 2015. “New Materialist Social Inquiry: Designs, Methods and the Research-Assemblage”. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 18 (4): 399-414. doi: 10.1080/13645579.2014.921458. Lloro-Bidart, T. 2016. “A Feminist Posthumanist Political Ecology of Education for Theorizing Human-Animal Relations/Relationships”. Environmental Education Research 23 (1): 111-130. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1135419. Lynch, J. & Mannion, G. (2021): Place-responsive Pedagogies in the Anthropocene: Attuning with the more-than-human, Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2020.1867710 Mannion, G. (2019). “Re-assembling environmental and sustainability education: Orientations from New Materialism”. Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1536926 Mannion, G., A. Fenwick and J. Lynch. (2013). “Place-Responsive Pedagogy: Learning from Teachers’ Experiences of Excursions in Nature”. Environmental Education Research 19 (6): 792-809. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2012.749980. Ramjan, C. (ongoing doctoral study) Citizen Science for Environmental Citizenship: How do different approaches to school-based citizen science support environmental citizenship? ESRC funded. Ruck, A. (under review) Stewardship and Beyond? Young People’s Lived Experience of Conservation Activities in School Grounds Ruck, A., and G. Mannion. (2020). “Fieldnotes and Situational Analysis in Environmental Education Research: Experiments in New Materialism.” Environmental Education Research 26 (9-10): 1373–1390. https://doi.org/10. 1080/13504622.2019.1594172 Somerville, M. (2018). Education research for the Anthropocene: the (micro)politics of researcher becoming (2017 Radford Lecture). The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(5), 553-567. Taylor, A. (2017). “Beyond Stewardship: Common World Pedagogies for the Anthropocene”. Environmental Education Research 23 (10): 1448-1461. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1325452. Tsing, A. (2013). “More-than-Human Sociality”. In Anthropology and Nature, edited by Hastrup, K, 37-52. New York: Routledge. Whatmore, S. (2006). “Materialist Returns: Practising Cultural Geography in and for a More-than-Human World.” Cultural Geographies 13 (4): 600–609. doi:10.1191/1474474006cgj377oa.
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