As an educational policy student interested in sustainability, I was curious about a biographical reference I found suggesting that before his death in 1997, Paulo Freire had been developing a conceptual framework highlighting ecology education as an essential form of critical pedagogy. I wanted to see how Freire had connected the two and used the lens of environmental justice to expand the discourse on pedagogy for liberation. I didn’t find such a statement by Freire, but I did find this essay by Moacir Gadotti, of the Paulo Freire Institute in Brazil, discussing this connection. The Gadotti piece is interesting to me because, 1. like the Furman and Gruenewald piece, it argues for ecopedagogy as a central field of study and 2. because it situates the conversations about ecology education within global-scale educational policy-making structures and discussions.
Some of the ideas Gadotti puts forth that I see as being important to my teaching and research are:
Ecology education constitutes a pathway for developing in humanity a sense of global citizenship and mutual responsibility that are essential to the survival of life on the planet. I want to explore how the sense of “global citizenship” can be defined, manifests, and can be nurtured in formal and informal educational settings.
Ecopedagogy is an internationally recognized pillar of education and diplomatic cooperation, as reflected in agreements such as the Earth Charter and the establishment of the “Decade for Sustainability.” I want to better understand what (if any) role such agreements play in shaping educational policy in the US at national and local levels, and why.
Despite ambiguities around terms such as “sustainable” and “development,” and the notion of “the good life,” ecopedagogy offers important opportunities for human beings to uncover and interrogate the relationships between aspects of our lives we take as “givens,” including economic frameworks, human relationships to each other and to the natural world, desire and consumption, and many others. How can such deeply ingrained aspects of our ways of being in the world be problematized effectively, what alternatives can we imagine, and how can we educate to build a world that reflects other possible realities?
I look forward to hearing what others made of this reading…