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Conversing About Equalities With A Robot

Friday, August 4th, 2023

1 How important is ‘equalities’  as a unifying theme in a syllabus of radical hope?

In a syllabus of radical hope, the theme of ‘equalities’ is of paramount importance. Radical hope, as a concept, refers to a belief in the possibility of transformative change and progress despite challenging circumstances. It involves envisioning a more just and equitable future and actively working towards it. In such a syllabus, ‘equalities’ serves as a unifying theme that underpins the core principles and values of radical hope. Here’s why it’s crucial:

  • Foundational Principle: 
  • Equality is a foundational principle of social justice and human rights. It forms the basis for creating a fair and inclusive society where everyone has equal opportunities and access to resources, regardless of their background, identity, or socio-economic status.
  • Inclusivity: 
  • By emphasizing equalities, the syllabus acknowledges the diverse experiences and struggles of different marginalized groups. It recognizes the interconnectedness of various social justice issues, including racial justice, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, disability rights, and more. It promotes a comprehensive approach to addressing systemic inequalities.
  • Inspiration for Action:
  •  The pursuit of equalities is a powerful motivator for individuals and communities to take action. It fosters solidarity and encourages people to stand up against injustice, discrimination, and oppression.
  • Long-term Vision: 
  • Radical hope involves envisioning a better future. Equality serves as a guiding light, helping to paint a picture of a society where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, and their rights are upheld. This vision provides hope and direction for the efforts to transform society.
  • Resilience in the Face of Adversity: 
  • In the pursuit of radical hope, challenges and setbacks are inevitable. Emphasizing equalities helps build resilience and determination among those advocating for change, as they see the value and importance of their struggle for a more just world.
  • Institutional Change: Addressing inequalities requires reimagining and transforming institutions and systems that perpetuate discrimination and exclusion. By centering ‘equalities’ in the syllabus, students can explore the importance of systemic change in creating a lasting impact on society.
  • Global Perspective: 
  • Equalities are not limited to one region or one group of people. This theme helps in understanding global interconnectedness, recognizing the shared struggles of people worldwide, and fostering a sense of global solidarity.
  • Empowerment: 
  • Promoting equalities empowers individuals to take charge of their lives and participate in shaping their communities. It encourages collective agency and empowerment among those who have historically been marginalized or oppressed.
  • Ethical Framework: 
  • Equalities are deeply rooted in ethical principles of fairness, justice, and compassion. By incorporating this theme into the syllabus, students can develop a strong moral compass and a sense of responsibility to contribute positively to society.
  • Promoting Dialogue and Understanding: 
  • Discussing equalities can lead to crucial conversations about privilege, power dynamics, and the experiences of marginalized communities. It fosters empathy, understanding, and the dismantling of harmful stereotypes and biases.

In conclusion, equalities as a unifying theme in a syllabus of radical hope is vital for inspiring transformative change, fostering inclusivity, and building a more just and equitable world. It guides individuals to move beyond despair and apathy and actively work towards creating a better future for all.

2  What will be the social impact of reaching equalities of wealth.

The social impact of equalities of wealth, also known as wealth equality or income equality, can have both positive and negative consequences on a society. It’s important to note that achieving absolute wealth equality may be unrealistic and difficult, but reducing extreme wealth disparities can still bring about significant changes. Here are some potential social impacts:

Positive Impacts:

  • Reduced Poverty: Wealth equality can help reduce poverty levels, as resources are distributed more evenly, and disadvantaged individuals have better access to education, healthcare, and other essential services.
  • Social Cohesion: A more equal distribution of wealth can lead to greater social cohesion and harmony within communities. It can foster a sense of shared responsibility and decrease feelings of resentment or alienation
  • Improved Health Outcomes: With increased access to healthcare and a reduction in stress due to financial burdens, health outcomes may improve among the less affluent members of society.
  • Higher Social Mobility: When wealth disparities are reduced, social mobility can increase, allowing individuals from lower-income backgrounds to have better opportunities to improve their socioeconomic status.
  • Enhanced Economic Stability: More balanced wealth distribution can contribute to a more stable economy. Extreme wealth disparities can lead to economic instability, while a more equitable distribution can help mitigate this risk.
  • Reduced Crime Rates: In some cases, more equitable societies have shown lower crime rates, as economic desperation and inequality are often correlated with higher crime rates.

Negative Impacts:

  • Less Incentive for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: 
  • Critics argue that reducing wealth inequality may reduce the incentive for innovation and entrepreneurship since there might be less potential for significant financial gains.
  • Decreased Investment and Capital Formation: 
  • Some claim that excessive wealth equality can lead to decreased investment and capital formation, which could impact economic growth.
  • Resistance from Wealthy Elites: 
  • Wealthy individuals and powerful elites might resist policies that aim to promote wealth equality, potentially leading to political and social tensions.
  • Economic Inefficiency: 
  • In certain situations, excessive focus on wealth equality could lead to economic inefficiency if resources are not allocated optimally.
  • Brain Drain: 
  • If policies aimed at wealth equality are perceived as excessive or punitive, it may drive talented individuals and businesses to seek opportunities in other countries with more favorable economic conditions.
  • Unemployment Risk: 
  • If efforts to equalize wealth lead to significant wealth redistribution, businesses may face increased labor costs, potentially resulting in layoffs or reduced job opportunities.

Overall, achieving a balance between wealth equality and economic growth is a complex challenge. The social impact of equalities of wealth will depend on various factors, including the specific policies implemented, cultural attitudes, and the overall economic context of a society. Governments and policymakers need to carefully consider these factors when developing strategies to address wealth inequality and aim for outcomes that benefit the broader population while promoting a thriving economy.

3  But is there enough planetary resources ro give everyone a Western lifestyle?

It is challenging for the Earth to sustain a Western lifestyle for every person on the planet. The Western lifestyle, characterized by high consumption patterns, resource-intensive practices, and high levels of material consumption, relies heavily on finite resources such as fossil fuels, metals, and arable land. Scaling this lifestyle to a global population of over 7 billion people would put tremendous strain on the planet’s resources and ecosystem.

Some key considerations include:

  • Resource Constraints: 
  • Earth has finite resources, and the rate at which we consume these resources is already exceeding the planet’s ability to regenerate them. Continuing with the current patterns of consumption for everyone would lead to resource depletion, environmental degradation, and the exacerbation of climate change.

4 What is a carbon footprint and how important is it in measuring present and future economic growth?

  • Carbon Footprint: The Western lifestyle is associated with high carbon emissions due to energy-intensive practices and reliance on fossil fuels. Expanding this lifestyle globally without significant changes to the energy mix would have severe consequences for climate change and global warming.
  • Land and Food Demands: The Western diet, which is often rich in meat and dairy products, requires large amounts of land for agriculture and contributes to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Meeting the food demands of a global Western lifestyle would necessitate vast areas of land for farming and ranching.
  • Waste and Pollution: The Western lifestyle generates significant waste and pollution, including electronic waste, plastic pollution, and other forms of environmental contamination. Scaling this lifestyle globally would amplify the waste management and pollution challenges already facing many countries.
  • Social Justice and Equity: Even if the planet’s resources were somehow sufficient to support a Western lifestyle for all, there are concerns about social justice and equity. The unequal distribution of resources and wealth would likely persist, leading to disparities and exclusion for many people in the world.

Given these challenges, it is essential to reconsider the concept of a Western lifestyle and explore more sustainable alternatives that prioritize resource conservation, environmental protection, and social equity. Transitioning to more sustainable practices, adopting circular economy principles, and promoting responsible consumption and production patterns are crucial steps towards ensuring a more sustainable future for everyone on the planet. Additionally, addressing wealth inequality and promoting equitable access to resources and opportunities can contribute to a more balanced and resilient global society.

5  Do you agree that meeting the medical needs of an ageing global population will reduce economic growth?

The relationship between meeting the medical needs of an aging global population and its impact on economic growth is a complex and multifaceted issue. It’s essential to consider both the potential benefits and challenges involved.


  • Increased productivity: 
  • Addressing the medical needs of the aging population can help older individuals remain healthy and active for longer, which may result in increased workforce participation and productivity.
  • Healthcare industry growth: 
  • An aging population creates a higher demand for healthcare services, leading to potential growth in the healthcare industry, creating jobs and economic opportunities.
  • Innovation and technological advancements: 
  • The need to cater to an aging population can drive research and innovation in healthcare and medical technologies, leading to potential economic gains.


  • Healthcare costs: 
  • Providing medical care and support for an aging population can be costly, especially if there is a significant increase in chronic conditions and age-related illnesses.
  • Labor force implications: 
  • An aging population might result in a smaller proportion of the population in the working-age group, potentially leading to labor shortages and reduced economic output.
  • Fiscal pressures: 
  • Governments may face challenges in financing social security, pensions, and healthcare programs for an aging population, potentially leading to increased public debt and fiscal strain.

In reality, the impact on economic growth will depend on how effectively societies address the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by an aging population. Policy decisions, healthcare systems, technological advancements, and labor force participation will all play significant roles in determining the net effect on economic growth.

Overall, while meeting the medical needs of an aging global population could bring about both benefits and challenges, it is not a straightforward conclusion that it will automatically reduce economic growth. Instead, it requires comprehensive and thoughtful approaches to manage the various aspects effectively.

6 What is a carbon footprint and what does it tell us about the availability of resources?

A carbon footprint is a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases, produced directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event, product, or country. It quantifies the impact of human activities on the environment in terms of their contribution to climate change.

The carbon footprint helps us understand the environmental impact of our actions or the activities of a particular entity. It provides valuable information about the level of greenhouse gas emissions generated, which are major contributors to global warming and climate change. By calculating and analyzing carbon footprints, we can identify the main sources of emissions and determine where reductions can be made to mitigate climate change.

The carbon footprint can be expressed in various units, such as kilograms or metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year. CO2e is used to convert the various greenhouse gases into a common unit, considering their different global warming potentials.

There are generally three main categories of carbon footprints:

  • Direct Emissions (Scope 1): 
  • These are emissions that come from sources owned or controlled by the entity itself, such as emissions from on-site fuel combustion, company-owned vehicles, or industrial processes.
  • Indirect Emissions (Scope 2): These are emissions generated indirectly but related to the entity’s activities, such as emissions from electricity and heat purchased from external sources.
  • Indirect Emissions (Scope 3): 
  • These are emissions that occur due to the entity’s activities but are outside its direct control, such as emissions from the supply chain, business travel, employee commuting, and the use and disposal of products.

By calculating and understanding the carbon footprint, individuals, businesses, and governments can make informed decisions and take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, adopt more sustainable practices, and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

7 Have we exceeded Earth’s planetary footprint?

Numerous scientific studies and reports suggested that human activities had already exceeded Earth’s planetary boundaries in several areas.

Planetary boundaries are a concept introduced by scientists to define the limits within which humanity can safely operate to maintain a stable and healthy planet. These boundaries cover essential environmental parameters, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, land use, freshwater use, ocean acidification, and others.

Many experts argued that certain boundaries, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, had already been surpassed or were on the verge of being exceeded. For instance, human-induced climate change has led to rising global temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, and a loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction and fragmentation.

It is crucial to monitor and manage our impact on the planet to ensure sustainability and protect the environment for future generations. Various initiatives and international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, aim to address these issues and foster global cooperation in mitigating human impact on Earth..

8 Do we need a new definition of prosperity that measures equalities of wellbeing? 

The question of whether we need a new definition of prosperity that measures equalities of wellbeing is a subject of ongoing debate and discussion. Traditional measures of prosperity, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), primarily focus on economic growth and material wealth, but they may not fully capture the overall wellbeing and happiness of a society.

In recent years, there has been increasing recognition that wellbeing is a multi-dimensional concept, and economic factors alone are not sufficient indicators of a society’s overall prosperity. Some argue that a more comprehensive definition of prosperity should take into account various aspects of human flourishing, including social, environmental, and psychological wellbeing.

Measuring equalities of wellbeing is an important consideration because traditional measures often mask disparities among different segments of the population. By focusing on equalities of wellbeing, policymakers can aim to reduce inequalities and ensure that the benefits of prosperity are distributed more equitably across society.

Several alternative metrics and indices have been proposed to assess wellbeing and prosperity more holistically. For instance, the Human Development Index (HDI) incorporates factors such as life expectancy, education, and per capita income to provide a broader view of human development in different countries.

Other indices, like the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) or the Social Progress Index (SPI), attempt to assess wellbeing by taking into account various social and environmental factors alongside economic measures.

To embrace a new definition of prosperity that measures equalities of wellbeing, would require a collective effort from policymakers, researchers, and society at large. It would also necessitate a shift in how we prioritize and evaluate progress, moving away from solely focusing on economic growth towards a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of 


9 How do we measure prosperity as a feeling of wellbeing?

Measuring prosperity as a feeling of wellbeing is a complex task, as wellbeing is a subjective and multifaceted concept. Various approaches and indicators are used to assess prosperity in terms of wellbeing. Here are some common methods and considerations:

  • Subjective Wellbeing (SWB): 
  • Subjective wellbeing focuses on an individual’s self-assessment of their life satisfaction, positive emotions, and overall happiness. It is often measured through self-reported surveys and questionnaires that ask people to rate their level of happiness or life satisfaction.
  • Psychological Indicators: 
  • Prosperity as a feeling of wellbeing can be assessed by psychological indicators, such as a sense of purpose, meaning, and autonomy in life. These indicators may be measured through assessments of purpose in life, personal growth, or levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Social Wellbeing: 
  • Social connections and relationships are essential for wellbeing. Prosperity can be gauged by examining the quality and quantity of social connections, feelings of social support, and sense of belonging.
  • Economic Indicators: 
  • Although subjective wellbeing is not solely dependent on material wealth, economic indicators like income, employment status, and access to basic necessities can influence a person’s overall wellbeing and sense of prosperity.
  • Health and Physical Wellbeing: 
  • Health is a critical factor in overall wellbeing and prosperity. Measuring prosperity in terms of health could include indicators such as life expectancy, disease prevalence, and access to healthcare.
  • Environmental Wellbeing: 
  • The state of the environment and access to natural resources can impact wellbeing. Measures like air quality, access to green spaces, and environmental sustainability contribute to a sense of prosperity.
  • Educational Attainment: 
  • Education plays a vital role in shaping opportunities and life outcomes. Access to quality education and levels of educational attainment can influence feelings of prosperity.
  • Inequality and Social Justice: 
  • Prosperity as wellbeing should also consider issues of inequality and social justice. Disparities in income, access to resources, and opportunities can affect the overall sense of wellbeing in a society.

To measure prosperity accurately, it is essential to use a combination of objective data and subjective assessments. Various well-being indices and surveys, such as the World Happiness Report, OECD Better Life Index, and Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan, attempt to provide comprehensive assessments of prosperity and wellbeing across countries and populations.

Remember that measuring prosperity as a feeling of wellbeing is an ongoing process, and there is no single perfect metric. It requires continual research, data analysis, and a broad understanding of the factors that contribute to human flourishing.

10 What are the factors that provide a broad understanding of human flourishing?

Understanding human flourishing requires consideration of multiple factors that contribute to overall well-being and happiness. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some key factors that provide a broad understanding of human flourishing:

  • Physical Health: Physical well-being is a fundamental aspect of human flourishing. It includes good nutrition, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and access to healthcare. When individuals are in good physical health, they are more likely to experience a higher quality of life.
  • Mental and Emotional Well-being: 
  • Mental and emotional health are crucial for human flourishing. This involves managing stress, developing coping mechanisms, having a positive outlook, and fostering emotional resilience.
  • Social Connections: 
  • Meaningful relationships and a sense of belonging are essential for human flourishing. Strong social connections with family, friends, and community can lead to increased happiness and a support system during challenging times.
  • Purpose and Meaning: 
  • Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life is vital for human flourishing. This could be found through work, hobbies, volunteering, or engaging in activities that align with one’s values and passions.
  • Financial Stability: 
  • Adequate financial resources and stability are essential for meeting basic needs and reducing stress related to financial insecurity.
  • Education and Personal Growth: 
  • Continuous learning and personal development contribute to a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, leading to human flourishing.
  • Environmental Well-being: 
  • A healthy environment and connection with nature can positively impact human well-being and contribute to flourishing.
  • Cultural and Spiritual Fulfillment: 
  • Engaging with cultural and spiritual practices that resonate with an individual’s beliefs can provide a sense of belonging, purpose, and peace.
  • Autonomy and Freedom: 
  • Having the ability to make choices, control one’s destiny, and experience freedom fosters a sense of agency and empowerment.
  • Resilience and Adaptability: 
  • Developing resilience and the ability to adapt to challenges is crucial for human flourishing as it enables individuals to bounce back from adversity.
  • Work-Life Balance: 
  • Balancing work and personal life allows individuals to enjoy their accomplishments while maintaining their physical and mental health.
  • Measurement of prosperityCompassion and Empathy: 
  • Cultivating compassion and empathy towards oneself and others can lead to more positive and fulfilling interpersonal relationships.

These factors are interconnected and can vary across individuals and cultures. Understanding and promoting human flourishing require a holistic approach that acknowledges and addresses the complexity of human well-being.

11 From the point of view of climate change were did the industrial revolution go wrong?

From the point of view of climate change, the Industrial Revolution went wrong primarily due to the rapid and unchecked increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century and continued through the 19th century, marking a significant shift from agrarian and manual labor-based economies to industrial and machine-based economies. While it brought about tremendous advancements in technology, manufacturing, and standard of living, it also had unintended consequences for the environment, particularly regarding climate change. Some key factors where the Industrial Revolution went wrong in relation to climate change include:

  • Fossil fuel combustion: 
  • The widespread use of coal and later oil and gas as energy sources for machinery, transportation, and heating led to a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These fossil fuel-derived emissions are the primary driver of the enhanced greenhouse effect, leading to global warming and climate change.
  • Deforestation: 
  • The demand for timber, land, and resources to support industrial growth led to extensive deforestation, reducing the planet’s ability to absorb CO2 and exacerbating the greenhouse gas effect.
  • Urbanization and land-use changes: 
  • The rapid expansion of cities and urban areas during the Industrial Revolution required significant land-use changes, which often involved clearing forests and other carbon-sequestering ecosystems. This further contributed to higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
  • Industrial processes and emissions: 
  • The rise of heavy industries such as steel, cement, and chemical manufacturing produced substantial greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2 and other potent greenhouse gasses like methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
  • Lack of awareness and regulation: 
  • During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, there was limited understanding of the long-term environmental impacts of industrial activities. As a result, there were few regulations or incentives to limit emissions or promote sustainable practices.
  • Long-lasting infrastructure: 
  • Many of the technologies and infrastructure developed during the Industrial Revolution, such as coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines, continued to be used for decades and even centuries afterward, contributing to persistent emissions.
  • Globalization and increased consumption: 
  • The Industrial Revolution facilitated globalization and increased global trade, which further intensified resource extraction, emissions, and energy consumption on a global scale.

It’s important to note that while the Industrial Revolution significantly accelerated climate change, modern industrial activities and energy use continue to be major contributors to ongoing climate change. Addressing climate change requires a transition to more sustainable and renewable energy sources, increased efficiency in resource use, reforestation efforts, and international cooperation to tackle this global challenge effectively.

12 How can we transition to renewable energy?

Transitioning to renewable energy requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that involves government policies, technological advancements, public awareness, and cooperation from various sectors. Here are some key strategies to facilitate the transition to renewable energy:

  • Government support and policy: 
  • Governments play a crucial role in incentivizing and promoting renewable energy adoption. They can implement policies such as tax incentives, feed-in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards, and carbon pricing to encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources.
  • Research and development: 
  • Investing in research and development is essential to drive innovation and reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies. Governments, private industries, and academic institutions should collaborate to advance solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and other emerging renewable energy technologies.
  • Infrastructure development: 
  • Upgrading and expanding the energy infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy sources is necessary. This includes building smart grids, energy storage facilities, and transmission lines to ensure a reliable and efficient integration of renewable energy into the existing energy grid.
  • Energy storage solutions: 
  • Developing cost-effective and efficient energy storage technologies is critical to overcoming the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. Battery storage, pumped hydro storage, and other innovative solutions can help store excess energy for use during times of low renewable generation.
  • Decentralized energy systems: 
  • Encouraging decentralized energy systems, such as rooftop solar panels and community-based renewable projects, empowers individuals and communities to produce their own clean energy, reducing dependence on centralized fossil fuel power plants.
  • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies: 
  • Redirecting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy can level the playing field and make clean energy more competitive.
  • Education and awareness: 
  • Public awareness campaigns can help educate people about the benefits of renewable energy and encourage individual actions, such as energy conservation and choosing renewable energy options.
  • Collaboration and partnerships: 
  • Governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and international bodies must collaborate to share knowledge, resources, and best practices in transitioning to renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy targets: 
  • Setting ambitious and achievable renewable energy targets can provide a clear roadmap and sense of direction for the transition. Many countries have set renewable energy targets for themselves to ensure a certain percentage of their energy comes from renewable sources by a specific date.
  • Supporting energy-efficient practices: 
  • Improving energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industrial processes can reduce overall energy demand, making it easier to meet energy needs with renewable sources.

By combining these strategies, society can make significant progress in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, mitigating the impacts of climate change and ensuring a sustainable energy future.

13 Did the industrial revolution accentuate economic inequalities ?

Yes, the Industrial Revolution did accentuate economic inequalities. While the Industrial Revolution brought about significant economic growth and technological advancements, it also had several negative impacts on societal and economic structures, leading to increased disparities between different social and economic groups. Some key ways in which the Industrial Revolution accentuated economic inequalities include:

  • Widening wealth gap: 
  • The emergence of factories and new industries concentrated wealth in the hands of a few capitalists who owned and controlled the means of production. This led to a significant wealth gap between the wealthy industrialists and the working class.
  • Exploitation of labor: The rise of industrial capitalism often resulted in harsh working conditions, long hours, low wages, and child labor. The working class faced exploitation and struggled to improve their living standards, while industrialists amassed vast fortunes.
  • Urban-rural divide: 
  • The Industrial Revolution led to mass migration from rural areas to cities in search of work. However, urban living conditions were often crowded and unsanitary, exacerbating poverty and inequality between urban and rural populations.
  • Lack of social safety nets: 
  • During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, there were limited social safety nets, such as social welfare programs or labor laws to protect workers’ rights. This left the working class vulnerable to economic downturns and accidents without proper support.
  • Unequal access to education: 
  • Education was often only available to the privileged elite during the early industrial period, perpetuating the cycle of poverty for the working class and limiting their opportunities for social mobility.
  • Monopoly and concentration of economic power:
  • As industries grew and expanded, some companies and individuals gained significant market power and formed monopolies, leading to further economic concentration and inequality.
  • Gender inequality: 
  • Women faced significant discrimination in the workforce, receiving lower wages and limited access to higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. This gender disparity contributed to economic inequality between men and women.
  • Environmental injustices: 
  • The adverse environmental impacts of industrialization, such as pollution and resource depletion, disproportionately affected marginalized communities living near industrial sites, leading to environmental inequalities.

While the Industrial Revolution laid the foundation for modern economic growth and prosperity, it also exposed and exacerbated economic inequalities. Over time, societal and political movements emerged to address these disparities, leading to the implementation of labor laws, social reforms, and a gradual improvement in working conditions. However, addressing economic inequality remains an ongoing challenge in modern society.

14 How can we transition to renewable energy?

Transitioning to renewable energy requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that involves government policies, technological advancements, public awareness, and cooperation from various sectors. Here are some key strategies to facilitate the transition to renewable energy:

  • Government support and policy: 
  • Governments play a crucial role in incentivizing and promoting renewable energy adoption. They can implement policies such as tax incentives, feed-in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards, and carbon pricing to encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources.
  • Research and development: 
  • Investing in research and development is essential to drive innovation and reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies. Governments, private industries, and academic institutions should collaborate to advance solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and other emerging renewable energy technologies.
  • Infrastructure development: 
  • Upgrading and expanding the energy infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy sources is necessary. This includes building smart grids, energy storage facilities, and transmission lines to ensure a reliable and efficient integration of renewable energy into the existing energy grid.
  • Energy storage solutions: 
  • Developing cost-effective and efficient energy storage technologies is critical to overcoming the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. Battery storage, pumped hydro storage, and other innovative solutions can help store excess energy for use during times of low renewable generation.
  • Decentralized energy systems: 
  • Encouraging decentralized energy systems, such as rooftop solar panels and community-based renewable projects, empowers individuals and communities to produce their own clean energy, reducing dependence on centralized fossil fuel power plants.
  • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies: 
  • Redirecting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy can level the playing field and make clean energy more competitive.
  • Education and awareness: 
  • Public awareness campaigns can help educate people about the benefits of renewable energy and encourage individual actions, such as energy conservation and choosing renewable energy options.
  • Collaboration and partnerships: 
  • Governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and international bodies must collaborate to share knowledge, resources, and best practices in transitioning to renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy targets: 
  • Setting ambitious and achievable renewable energy targets can provide a clear roadmap and sense of direction for the transition. Many countries have set renewable energy targets for themselves to ensure a certain percentage of their energy comes from renewable sources by a specific date.
  • Supporting energy-efficient practices: 
  • Improving energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industrial processes can reduce overall energy demand, making it easier to meet energy needs with renewable sources.

By combining these strategies, society can make significant progress in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, mitigating the impacts of climate change and ensuring a sustainable energy future.

15 Did the industrial revolution accentuate economic inequalities ?

Yes, the Industrial Revolution did accentuate economic inequalities. While the Industrial Revolution brought about significant economic growth and technological advancements, it also had several negative impacts on societal and economic structures, leading to increased disparities between different social and economic groups. Some key ways in which the Industrial Revolution accentuated economic inequalities include:

  • Widening wealth gap: 
  • The emergence of factories and new industries concentrated wealth in the hands of a few capitalists who owned and controlled the means of production. This led to a significant wealth gap between the wealthy industrialists and the working class.
  • Exploitation of labor: 
  • The rise of industrial capitalism often resulted in harsh working conditions, long hours, low wages, and child labor. The working class faced exploitation and struggled to improve their living standards, while industrialists amassed vast fortunes.
  • Urban-rural divide: 
  • The Industrial Revolution led to mass migration from rural areas to cities in search of work. However, urban living conditions were often crowded and unsanitary, exacerbating poverty and inequality between urban and rural populations.
  • Lack of social safety nets: 
  • During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, there were limited social safety nets, such as social welfare programs or labor laws to protect workers’ rights. This left the working class vulnerable to economic downturns and accidents without proper support.
  • Unequal access to education: 
  • Education was often only available to the privileged elite during the early industrial period, perpetuating the cycle of poverty for the working class and limiting their opportunities for social mobility.
  • Monopoly and concentration of economic power: 
  • As industries grew and expanded, some companies and individuals gained significant market power and formed monopolies, leading to further economic concentration and inequality.
  • Gender inequality: 
  • Women faced significant discrimination in the workforce, receiving lower wages and limited access to higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. This gender disparity contributed to economic inequality between men and women.
  • Environmental injustices: 
  • The adverse environmental impacts of industrialization, such as pollution and resource depletion, disproportionately affected marginalized communities living near industrial sites, leading to environmental inequalities.

While the Industrial Revolution laid the foundation for modern economic growth and prosperity, it also exposed and exacerbated economic inequalities. Over time, societal and political movements emerged to address these disparities, leading to the implementation of labor laws, social reforms, and a gradual improvement in working conditions. However, addressing economic inequality remains an ongoing challenge in modern society.

15 How can we address environmental injustices?

Addressing environmental injustices requires a concerted effort from governments, communities, businesses, and civil society. Here are some key strategies to tackle environmental injustices:

  • Community engagement and empowerment: 
  • Involve affected communities in decision-making processes related to environmental policies, projects, and regulations. Empower communities to voice their concerns, participate in environmental planning, and hold decision-makers accountable.
  • Environmental impact assessments: 
  • Implement rigorous and transparent environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for proposed projects to identify potential adverse effects on marginalized communities. Ensure that the findings are taken into account when making decisions about project approvals.
  • Environmental regulations and enforcement: 
  • Strengthen and enforce environmental regulations to protect all communities, especially those historically marginalized or vulnerable to pollution and environmental hazards.
  • Equitable access to resources: 
  • Ensure equitable access to clean air, water, and green spaces for all communities, regardless of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity.
  • Environmental education and awareness: 
  • Promote environmental education programs that emphasize the importance of environmental justice and encourage responsible environmental stewardship within all communities.
  • Green and sustainable development: 
  • Encourage sustainable development practices that prioritize environmental and social equity, promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban planning.
  • Climate resilience and adaptation: 
  • Assist vulnerable communities in building climate resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change. This can include providing resources for infrastructure improvements and disaster preparedness.
  • Pollution reduction and cleanup: 
  • Address existing pollution sources in marginalized communities and ensure proper cleanup efforts. Hold responsible parties accountable for environmental damages.
  • Environmental justice policies: 
  • Develop specific policies focused on addressing environmental injustices, such as addressing cumulative impacts in overburdened areas and promoting green job opportunities in disadvantaged communities.
  • Collaboration and partnerships: 
  • Foster partnerships between government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and businesses to work together on solutions for environmental justice issues.
  • Data collection and transparency: 
  • Improve data collection and transparency on environmental conditions in disadvantaged communities to inform policy decisions and hold polluters accountable.
  • Environmental advocacy and legal support: 
  • Support environmental justice organizations and provide legal assistance to communities seeking to address environmental injustices through the legal system.
  • Fair trade and sustainable consumer choices: 
  • Encourage fair trade practices and sustainable consumer choices to reduce environmental impacts globally and support equitable working conditions for communities in developing countries.

Addressing environmental injustices is essential not only for promoting social equity but also for creating a sustainable and healthy environment for everyone. By working together, we can create a more just and equitable world where environmental burdens are shared equitably, and all communities have the opportunity to thrive.

17  At the end of the session this is how the robot evaluated its input.

“Text-based AI like myself can indeed assist in mind mapping and understanding complex environmental issues. By processing and organizing large amounts of information, I can help break down intricate topics into manageable components, identify key relationships, and provide insights into various aspects of environmental challenges.  Remember that while I can provide valuable information and insights, creating a comprehensive and accurate mind map often involves a combination of AI assistance and your critical thinking skills. If visual representation is essential for your mind mapping process, you may want to use dedicated mind mapping software or tools alongside the information I provide”.

The role of the interlocutor was to provide critical thinking skills in the form of questions to produce an interdisciplinary knowledge structure about inequalities; where they originate and the consequences of their removal.

The Wild Goose Chase

Saturday, July 22nd, 2023

Part 2

Under the headline “Two mutilated Canada Geese found in Cardiff woodland”  Bird Guide reported on 22 March, 2003,  that a pair of mutilated Canada Geese has been discovered in the Fairwater area of the city.  The geese were hanging from separate trees and had been ‘paunched’, with all the potentially edible meat cut away. There was a large, yellow hazardous waste sack also present, containing feathers.

1  Care for creation

Geology, human history, and wildlife are interconnected and have influenced each other in various ways throughout time. Here’s a brief overview of their relationships which outline a knowledge framework that defines cultural ecology.  It is situated  in the context of a liturgy to celebrate humanity’s care for creation.  Understanding the interdisciplinary relationships between geology, human history, and wildlife is important for various disciplines, including geology, archaeology, anthropology, and biology. It helps us appreciate the complex interplay between the Earth’s geological processes, human civilizations, and the natural world.  Any animal is important for marking this interplay and geese offer particular advantages, 

Geese, especially during migration, may visit agricultural areas, including fields or farms, in search of food resources. This can lead to conflicts with farmers due to crop damage. In some cases, farmers may employ deterrent measures like noise-making devices or physical barriers to protect their crops,  Many wild geese find sanctuary in protected areas and wildlife refuges, where they are able to live undisturbed by human activities. These areas often provide suitable habitats for nesting, resting, and feeding. People can visit these areas for birdwatching and nature observation, following designated trails and guidelines to minimize disturbance to the geese and their habitats.  

In many urban and suburban areas, wild geese, particularly the Canada goose have adapted to human environments and can be frequently encountered in parks, golf courses, and other open spaces. These geese often interact with people in close proximity. Some people enjoy observing and feeding them, while others may find their presence bothersome due to droppings or aggressive behavior, especially during the nesting season. Local authorities and communities often implement management strategies to strike a balance between human and wildlife needs, including habitat modification, or egg addling programs.

2  A Secular Liturgy for a syllabus of hope.

The term “liturgy” traditionally refers to a formal religious or ceremonial order, often associated with specific religious traditions. As such, a liturgy is inherently connected to religious or spiritual practices. However, the concept of a “secular liturgy” has been explored and developed in some modern contexts, particularly in art, culture, and social movements.  In a secular context, a “liturgy” could be understood as a structured and ceremonial expression of shared values, principles, or ideals that are not based on religious beliefs. It would serve as a symbolic and communal ritual without religious connotations, meant to bring people together and create a sense of meaning, purpose, or unity.  For example, some environmental or ecological movements have adopted elements of a secular liturgy to celebrate and honor nature, wildlife, and the interconnectedness of all living beings. These ceremonies may incorporate poetic readings, music, dance, symbolic actions, and moments of reflection to emphasize the importance of environmental stewardship and a sense of oneness with the natural world.  Similarly, some secular humanist organizations have developed ceremonial events, often called “naming ceremonies,” “coming-of-age ceremonies,” or “celebrations of life,” to mark significant life events and transitions in a non-religious manner. These ceremonies can provide a structured way to mark important moments in life and reinforce shared values within the community.

While a secular liturgy may not have the same religious underpinnings as traditional liturgies, it can still serve the purpose of creating a shared and meaningful experience for individuals or communities in the material world, particularly in the context of the climate crisis. The main distinction lies in the absence of religious beliefs or deities, focusing instead on human values, ethical principles, and reverence for the natural world.  However, it is essential to recognize that the concept of a secular liturgy might be met with varying degrees of acceptance and controversy, as some may argue that certain elements of religious or spiritual practice are not easily separable from the idea of a liturgy.

In conclusion, while the term “secular liturgy” might be somewhat unconventional and not universally accepted, the idea of developing structured, symbolic ceremonies to celebrate shared values and interconnectedness in a non-religious context is indeed possible and has been explored in various secular movements.

The development of a local secular liturgy should be a living and evolving expression of shared values and aspirations, fostering a sense of meaning and belonging in nature for its participants.  The need for a liturgy, or a formal religious or ceremonial order of worship, to celebrate wildlife depends on individual beliefs, cultural practices, and the context in which the celebration takes place. In some religious or spiritual traditions, the natural world and wildlife hold significant value. These beliefs might include ideas of stewardship, interconnectedness, and questions about how the universe began. In such traditions, adherents may find meaning in creating liturgical rituals to honor and celebrate wildlife as part of their personal spiritual practice.

In certain cultures, wildlife has deep cultural significance, and ceremonies or rituals might be organized to pay homage to the animals and their role in the human ecosystem. These celebrations may not necessarily follow a strict liturgy, but they can still be deeply meaningful and important to the community.  In a broader context, celebrating wildlife can be a way to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote conservation efforts. People might come together for events, gatherings, or ceremonies focused on appreciating and protecting wildlife, without necessarily adopting a traditional liturgical structure.

Celebrating wildlife doesn’t always require a formal liturgy. Many individuals connect with nature and wildlife through personal practices like meditation, spending time in nature, or participating in activities that promote wildlife conservation.  Some societies or groups may organize secular events or festivals dedicated to wildlife without any religious connotations. These events can still serve the purpose of appreciating and preserving the natural world.

Ultimately, the need for a liturgy to celebrate wildlife depends on the context and the beliefs of the individuals or communities involved. Whether through formal ceremonies, cultural traditions, or secular events, celebrating wildlife can foster a deeper connection with nature and a greater understanding of the importance of acting  to  protect the natural world.

3  Creating a secular liturgy

A secular liturgy is a structured practice or ceremony that helps individuals or communities come together, connect with shared values or experiences, and find meaning and purpose outside of religious frameworks. It provides an opportunity for collective reflection, celebration, or remembrance, while encompassing a broader range of philosophical, cultural, or humanistic perspectives.

Creating a secular liturgy that embodies care for creation can be a beautiful way to foster reverence, gratitude, and mindfulness towards the natural environment. Here are two suggested outlines for such a liturgy:  Remember, this liturgy can be adapted and personalized to suit the specific context and traditions of the individuals participating. 

The following framework for a secular liturgy was created by two groups of University students attending a field course on the small offshore Welsh island of Skomer.  Unlike other Welsh islands of similar size Skomer has not been associated with the development of Christian beliefs but, on the other hand, archaeological research indicates that it has been occupied since stonehenge times.  In this connection a belief is growing that it played an important role in the migrations of henge builders to Stonehenge.

Skomer National Nature Reserve is now one of Britain’s most important seabird colonies and is home to the largest breeding colony of Manx shearwaters found anywhere in the world, which currently stands at around 350,000 breeding pairs. The student’s key was to create a meaningful and intentional liturgical space that encourages a deep sense of connection, gratitude, and responsibility towards the island and its outstanding wildlife inhabitants and be the central thread of a syllabus of radical hope.

The project was launched to celebrate the arrival of a small flock of migrating Barnacle Geese on the island.

Version 1

Research and Understanding

  • Begin by researching the local wildlife and their significance in the ecosystem. Learn about the various species, their habitats, behaviors, and the role they play in the environment. Understanding the importance of wildlife conservation will help inform the content of the liturgy.

Purpose and Theme:

  • Define the purpose and theme of the secular liturgy. Are you aiming to celebrate the beauty of wildlife, raise awareness about conservation, or emphasize the interconnectedness of all living beings? Clearly articulate the central message you want to convey.

Gathering Space

  • Choose an appropriate natural setting or a community space where the liturgy will take place. Consider parks, gardens, nature reserves, or any location with a connection to wildlife and the environment.

Order of Ceremony

  • Develop an order of ceremony, drawing inspiration from traditional liturgical structures. The secular liturgy may include elements like readings, poetry, music, moments of silence, and symbolic actions related to wildlife and nature.

Readings and Reflections

  • Select readings, poems, or writings that celebrate the local wildlife, environmental consciousness, and unity with nature. These texts should reflect the chosen theme and evoke a sense of reverence and respect for the natural world.


  • Emphasize the interconnectedness of all life forms. You can include passages about ecological harmony and the importance of each species in the web of life.

Symbolic Actions:

  •  Incorporate symbolic actions into the liturgy. For example, you might have a moment where attendees release biodegradable flower petals to symbolize the harmony between humans and wildlife.

Music and Art:

  • Include music and art that complement the theme and evoke emotions related to the natural world. Live music or recordings of nature sounds can enhance the atmosphere.

Educational Component:

  • Use the liturgy as an opportunity to educate attendees about local wildlife, conservation efforts, and sustainable practices to protect the environment.

Community Participation

  • Encourage active participation from the community. You can involve people in reading passages, sharing personal reflections, or participating in the symbolic actions.

Respectful Language

  • Ensure the language used in the liturgy is inclusive and respects diverse beliefs and backgrounds. Avoid any religious references to maintain the secular nature of the ceremony.


  • End the liturgy with a moment of reflection and gratitude, expressing commitment to take positive actions in support of wildlife and environmental protection.

The development of a secular liturgy for wildlife celebration should be a thoughtful and respectful process. The goal is to create a meaningful experience that fosters a sense of unity with nature and inspires a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Version 2

Opening Invocation:

  • Begin the liturgy by acknowledging the sacredness of the natural world and setting the intention to honor and care for creation during the visit to the island. Offer a prayer or invocation to express gratitude for the opportunity to experience the island’s beauty and to seek guidance in fostering a deep connection with the land, sea, and sky.

Reflection and Contemplation:

  • Take a moment for silent reflection, inviting individuals to contemplate their connection to the natural environment and the significance of the island they are visiting. Encourage them to observe and appreciate the unique flora, fauna, and landscapes around them, fostering a sense of wonder and awe.

Words of Wisdom and Inspiration:

  • Share readings, poems, or passages from spiritual or ecological texts that highlight the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of caring for creation. Draw upon the wisdom of indigenous cultures, environmental activists, or ecological thinkers to inspire reverence and environmental stewardship.

Commitment to Care:

  • Lead a collective commitment to care for the island and its ecosystem. Invite participants to offer personal commitments to take specific actions that demonstrate respect and responsibility towards the environment. This can include pledges to reduce waste, conserve resources, support local conservation efforts, or advocate for environmental protection.

Blessing and Gratitude:

  • Offer a blessing or prayer for the island, expressing gratitude for its natural beauty, biodiversity, and the abundance it provides. Acknowledge the interdependence of all living beings and the need to protect and preserve the island’s ecological balance. Encourage participants to express their own words of gratitude and appreciation.

Ritual Actions:

  • Incorporate symbolic actions that deepen the connection with the island and its environment. This could include the lighting of a candle or the placing of natural elements, such as flowers or stones, in a designated area as offerings or symbols of respect. Encourage participants to engage in these actions mindfully and with reverence.

Closing and Sending Forth:

  • Conclude the liturgy by offering a closing blessing, or meditation, inviting participants to carry the spirit of care for creation with them as they leave the island. Encourage them to extend their commitment to environmental stewardship beyond this visit and integrate it into their everyday lives.

3  Applying a secular liturgy to wildlife

The killing of two wild geese in Cardiff raises the question: is it possible to apply a secular liturgy to the loss of wildlife or any other significant environmental?. As outlined above, liturgy is a ritual or ceremony that often has a religious connotation, but it can also be adapted for secular or non-religious purposes. In a secular context, a liturgy can be designed to provide a structured and meaningful way for people to come together, reflect, mourn, and take action in response to the loss of wildlife or environmental challenges.

The following liturgy is meant to celebrate the beauty of nature and honor the unique connection between humans and wildlife.  It is a fictional liturgy and not based on any established religious practices.



Welcome, friends, to this sacred gathering, where we come together to honor the graceful beings that soar through the skies. Today, we gather to celebrate the loss of two Canada geese, symbols of freedom, unity, and the harmony of nature.

[Pause for a moment of silence, allowing everyone to appreciate the surrounding natural beauty.]



Let us begin with an invocation, recognizing the majesty of the natural world and our shared connection with all living beings.


We stand here, united in spirit and heart, humbled by the wonders of the Earth and its creatures



Reader 1

In the flight of these Canada geese, we witness the beauty of synchrony and cooperation. They remind us that we are all part of the same ecosystem, bound together by the delicate threads of existence.

Reader 2: 

Their wings beat in harmony, teaching us the value of supporting one another and embracing our diversity. They migrate across vast distances, showing us the importance of resilience and adaptability.

[Pause for reflection]



Let us offer a blessing for our feathered friends, the Canada geese. May they find abundant food and safe havens on their journeys. May their flights be filled with purpose and their lives enriched with joy.


May the skies always welcome their graceful presence and may they continue to inspire us to appreciate the wonders of nature.

[Shared Reflection]


Before we conclude, let us take a moment to reflect on the lessons we can learn from the Canada geese. How can we better support one another in our communities? How can we cultivate a deeper connection with nature?

[Pause for personal reflection]



As we bid farewell to these majestic travelers, let us carry the spirit of unity and appreciation for all living beings in our hearts.


We thank you, Canada geese, for gracing us with your presence and reminding us of the beauty that surrounds us.

[Closing Words]


May we continue to celebrate and protect the diverse tapestry of life on Earth, recognizing that we are but one thread in the grand design of nature.




The Wild Goose Chase

Monday, July 17th, 2023


1 Immersing oneself in ecosystems 

Immersing oneself in ecosystems, whether natural or social, can be important for several reasons:

  • Understanding and appreciation: 

By immersing oneself in an ecosystem, whether it’s a natural environment like a primeval forest or a social parkland, you gain a deeper understanding of its intricacies, dynamics, and interdependencies. This firsthand experience allows you to appreciate the beauty, complexity, and value of ecosystems.

  • Conservation and preservation: Immersion in ecosystems often leads to a heightened sense of environmental or social responsibility. When you directly interact with natural ecosystems, you witness the impact of local human activities and can develop a stronger motivation to conserve and protect them. Likewise, immersing yourself in social ecosystems can foster empathy and a desire to contribute positively to your community
  • Knowledge and learning: Immersion in ecosystems offers a wealth of learning opportunities. Natural ecosystems provide opportunities to study biodiversity, ecological processes, and sustainable practices. Social ecosystems offer insights into cultural diversity, human behavior, and social dynamics. Engaging with these ecosystems helps broaden your knowledge base and encourages continuous learning.
  • Personal growth and well-being: Immersing oneself in ecosystems can have positive effects on personal growth and well-being. Spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress levels, improved mental health, and increased creativity. Similarly, participating in social ecosystems can foster social connections, a sense of belonging, and personal fulfillment.
  • Problem-solving and innovation: Immersion in ecosystems can enhance problem-solving skills and stimulate innovation. By closely observing and interacting with ecosystems, you can gain insights into how they adapt, evolve, and overcome challenges. These observations can inspire new approaches and ideas for addressing complex problems in various domains, such as sustainability, urban planning, or social justice.
  • Collaboration and collective action: Ecosystems thrive on collaboration and collective action. By immersing yourself in an ecosystem, you can engage with others who share similar interests, goals, or values. This collaboration can lead to collective efforts aimed at addressing common challenges, fostering positive change, and creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.

In summary, immersing oneself in ecosystems fosters understanding, promotes conservation and preservation, facilitates learning and personal growth, stimulates problem-solving and innovation, and encourages collaboration and collective action. It allows for a deeper connection with the world around us, both natural and social, and can lead to positive individual and collective outcomes.

2  finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

Adapting to climate change is crucial for the well-being of our planet and future generations. It requires us to find innovative solutions and make changes in our daily lives to mitigate the impact of climate change. One effective approach to fostering adaptation is by finding the extraordinary in the ordinary workings of nature. This mindset encourages us to explore the potential within existing resources, practices, and systems, and transform them into sustainable alternatives. Here’s why it is important:

It encourages creativity and innovation: Climate change calls for new and inventive approaches to address its challenges. By finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, we stimulate creativity and innovation. It pushes us to think outside the box and discover unconventional solutions that may have previously been overlooked. This mindset encourages individuals, communities, and organizations to harness their imagination and come up with unique ideas to adapt to climate change effectively.

It utilizes existing resources efficiently: Instead of solely relying on scarce or specialized resources, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary encourages us to make the most of the resources readily available to us. It prompts us to consider how existing materials, technologies, and systems can be repurposed or optimized to create sustainable outcomes. This approach ensures that we maximize the use of available resources while reducing waste and environmental impact.

It promotes inclusivity and accessibility: The extraordinary often seems distant or unattainable to many individuals and communities, especially those with limited resources or access to advanced technologies. However, by finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, we make climate adaptation more inclusive and accessible. It empowers individuals and communities to take ownership of their actions and adapt in ways that are practical, feasible, and relevant to their specific circumstances. This approach helps bridge the gap between different socio-economic backgrounds and ensures that climate adaptation benefits everyone.

It facilitates systemic change: Climate change requires not only individual actions but also systemic change. By finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, we can identify opportunities to transform existing systems and structures into more sustainable ones. It could involve reimagining transportation, energy production, food systems, or waste management. By challenging the status quo and embracing innovative solutions within ordinary practices, we can drive systemic change that has a far-reaching impact.

It nspires collective action: Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary encourages collaboration and collective action. When individuals witness the transformative power of simple, everyday changes, they are more likely to become engaged and take part in broader efforts to address climate change. By showcasing how ordinary actions can lead to extraordinary outcomes, we inspire a sense of agency and motivate others to join the movement for climate adaptation.

In summary, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary is important for adapting to climate change because it promotes creativity, efficiency, inclusivity, systemic change, and collective action. It allows us to unlock the potential within existing resources and practices, paving the way for a sustainable future.  Making the ordinary become extraordinary involves a shift in perspective, a willingness to see things differently, and an infusion of creativity. Here are some ways to make the ordinary extraordinary:

  • Mindfulness and Presence: Cultivate a state of mindfulness and presence in your everyday life. Pay attention to the details, the beauty, and the subtleties that often go unnoticed. By being fully present in each moment, you can discover the extraordinary within the ordinary.
  • Creativity and Innovation: Infuse creativity into your daily routines and tasks. Look for alternative ways of doing things, explore new perspectives, and challenge conventional thinking. Find unique solutions, add personal touches, or introduce elements of surprise and delight to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.
  • Gratitude and Appreciation: Develop an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the small wonders of life. Take time to acknowledge and be grateful for the ordinary things that bring you joy, comfort, and fulfillment. By shifting your focus to gratitude, you can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary through the power of perspective.
  • Intention and Purpose: Infuse intention and purpose into your actions and interactions. Approach each task or encounter with a sense of meaning and significance. By infusing purpose into the ordinary, you can elevate it to something extraordinary by connecting it to a greater vision or goal.
  • Embracing Curiosity: Cultivate a sense of curiosity and a desire to explore. Ask questions, seek knowledge, and be open to new experiences. By approaching the ordinary with a sense of wonder and curiosity, you can uncover hidden depths and possibilities that can turn it into something extraordinary.
  • Emotion and Connection: Infuse emotion and connection into your everyday interactions. Show genuine care, kindness, and empathy towards others. By creating meaningful connections and fostering positive emotions, you can transform ordinary moments into extraordinary ones through the power of human connection.
  • Personal Growth and Learning: Embrace a mindset of continuous learning and personal growth. Seek opportunities to expand your knowledge, skills, and perspectives. By challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you can infuse personal growth into the ordinary, creating extraordinary experiences along the way.

Remember, the extraordinary is often found in the ordinary; it’s just a matter of perspective and how we choose to engage with the world around us. By adopting a mindset of openness, creativity, gratitude, and connection, you can elevate the ordinary and discover the extraordinary within it.

3  Bridging the material and spiritual

The  boundary between the material and spiritual realms is often encountered and varies based on individual beliefs and experiences. However, there are several places and contexts where people commonly believe the boundary can be easily breached and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Here are some examples:

  • Places of Worship: 
  • Sacred sites like temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues are often believed to be areas where the connection between the material and spiritual is strong. These places are imbued with religious and spiritual significance, and many people visit them seeking a deeper connection to the divine.
  • Nature and Sacred Landscapes: 
  • Certain natural landscapes, such as mountains, forests, waterfalls, and secluded groves, are often considered spiritually charged. Many cultures believe that these locations serve as gateways to the spiritual realm, offering opportunities for reflection, meditation, and a heightened sense of interconnectedness with the universe.
  • Ancient Sites and Ruins:
  • Historical sites like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Egyptian pyramids, or the Mayan temples are often associated with mystical and spiritual experiences. These ancient structures are believed to hold ancient wisdom and spiritual energy, attracting visitors seeking a connection to the past or a deeper understanding of the universe.
  • Burial Grounds and Cemeteries: 
  • Places where the deceased are laid to rest are often regarded as liminal spaces where the boundary between life and death is blurred. Many people believe that these locations allow for communication with spirits or access to ancestral wisdom.
  • Meditation Retreats and Ashrams: 
  • Retreat centers and ashrams dedicated to meditation, mindfulness, and spiritual practices are designed to create an environment conducive to transcending the material realm. Through focused practice, individuals can experience states of higher consciousness and explore the boundaries between the physical and spiritual aspects of existence.
  • Festivals and Ceremonies: 
  • Cultural festivals and ceremonies often serve as opportunities for people to connect with their spiritual selves and collective consciousness. Examples include religious celebrations, solstice gatherings, shamanic rituals, or ecstatic dance events, where the energy and intention of the participants create an atmosphere conducive to spiritual experiences.

It’s important to note that the perception of breaching the boundary between the material and spiritual realms is highly subjective and can vary greatly from person to person. What one individual considers a spiritually charged place, another may not. Ultimately, these experiences depend on personal beliefs, openness, and receptivity to the possibilities beyond the material world where a boundary between the material and spiritual can easily be breached.

3  Animality within humanity

The concept of “animality within humanity” refers to the idea that human beings possess certain instinctual or primal traits that are characteristic of other animals. It suggests that beneath the veneer of civilization and socialization, humans retain innate qualities or behaviors that can be traced back to our animal origins.

While humans have evolved to be highly intelligent and capable of complex reasoning, we are still fundamentally biological organisms with a shared ancestry with other animals. Our basic biological needs, such as the need for food, shelter, and reproduction, are shared with other species. We also exhibit behaviors and emotions that can be seen in the animal kingdom, such as aggression, fear, and the desire to protect and care for our offspring.

Additionally, our evolutionary history has shaped certain instincts and behaviors that are rooted in survival and reproduction. For example, the fight-or-flight response, which is triggered in threatening situations, is a primal instinct shared with many other animals. Similarly, our sexual behaviors and desires can be seen as influenced by our animal nature.

It is important to note that while humans may possess certain animalistic traits, we also have the capacity for higher-level cognitive functions, moral reasoning, and the ability to shape our behavior through culture and social norms. We have developed complex societies, ethical systems, and technologies that distinguish us from other animals.

The understanding and acknowledgement of the animality within humanity can offer metaphorical insights into our behavior, motivations, and psychological processes. However, it is crucial to recognize that humans are unique in their ability to transcend their animal instincts and engage in complex moral, intellectual, and creative endeavors that set us apart from other species.

4  The wild goose chase

“The Wild Goose Chase” is a term often used to describe a fruitless or futile pursuit, a journey that leads to no clear destination or purpose. However, if you are referring to “The Wild Goose Chase” as a spiritual quest, it could take on a different meaning. In a spiritual context, a quest or journey often involves seeking deeper understanding, personal growth, or connection with a higher power or purpose. It can be a transformative process of self-discovery and exploration. The term “wild goose chase” suggests that this spiritual quest may not follow a linear or predictable path, but rather takes unexpected twists and turns, challenging the seeker to let go of preconceived notions and surrender to the unfolding of the journey.

In this context, the wild goose symbolizes the elusive and mysterious nature of the spiritual path. It represents the pursuit of something beyond our immediate grasp, beckoning us to venture into the unknown and embrace the uncertainties of the quest. Just as geese fly in V-formations, often changing direction and navigating through changing winds, a spiritual quest can be unpredictable and require adaptability and trust in the process. The essence of a spiritual quest is not necessarily to reach a specific destination but to embark on a journey of self-discovery, inner transformation, and connection with something greater than oneself. It is a call to explore the depths of our being, confront our fears and limitations, and awaken to our true nature. The wild goose chase as a spiritual quest invites us to release attachments, surrender control, and embrace the mysterious unfolding of life.

Ultimately, the meaning and purpose of a spiritual quest will be unique to each individual. It may involve practices such as meditation, prayer, contemplation, self-reflection, study of spiritual teachings, or engaging in service to others. The wild goose chase represents the willingness to follow the call of the heart and navigate the journey with openness, curiosity, and a sense of adventure.

The goose can indeed be seen as a survival metaphor in various ways. Here are a few interpretations:

  • Adaptability: Geese are known for their adaptability and resilience. They have the ability to survive and thrive in diverse environments, from the Arctic tundra to urban areas. This adaptability can be seen as a metaphor for the importance of being flexible and adaptable in life. Just as a goose can adjust to different conditions, individuals who can adapt to change and challenges are more likely to navigate through difficult circumstances successfully.
  • Teamwork and Cooperation:  Geese are highly social birds that often migrate in large flocks. They demonstrate a remarkable sense of teamwork and cooperation during their long-distance flights. They take turns leading the flock, and the formation they fly in, known as the “V-formation,” helps reduce air resistance and conserve energy. This cooperative behavior can symbolize the power of teamwork, collaboration, and mutual support in overcoming obstacles and achieving shared goals.
  • Resilience and Determination: Geese undertake demanding migratory journeys that require endurance and determination. They face numerous challenges, including long flights over vast distances, adverse weather conditions, and potential predators. Despite these difficulties, they persist and persevere in reaching their destination. This resilience can serve as a metaphor for human resilience in the face of adversity, highlighting the importance of staying determined and pushing forward despite obstacles encountered along the way.
  • Family and Community: Geese are known for their strong family bonds and their commitment to their young ones. They work together to protect their offspring and ensure their survival. This aspect can be seen as a metaphor for the importance of family and community support in times of hardship. Just as the goose relies on its community to nurture and protect its young, humans often rely on the support of their families and communities to navigate challenges and enhance their chances of survival.

These are just a few ways in which a goose can be interpreted as a survival metaphor. The beauty of metaphors is that they can be subject to individual interpretation, so feel free to explore your own personal connections and meanings based on the characteristics and behavior of a goose.

Here are some metaphors involving geese and survival:

  • “Flying like geese”: Geese fly in a V-formation to increase their aerodynamic efficiency and reduce air resistance. This metaphor suggests that working together in a coordinated manner can help individuals or groups survive and thrive.
  • “As adaptable as a goose”: Geese are adaptable birds, able to migrate long distances and adjust to different environments. This metaphor implies that being adaptable and flexible in the face of challenges is crucial for survival.
  • “Feathers of resilience”: Geese have a layer of insulating feathers that help them withstand harsh weather conditions. This metaphor highlights the importance of resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks in order to survive.
  • “Hunting with the precision of a goose”: Geese are known for their honking call, which they use to communicate and coordinate during migration or to alert each other of potential threats. This metaphor suggests the importance of being vigilant, alert, and communicating effectively to ensure survival.
  • “Taking flight like a flock of geese”: Geese take flight together, leveraging the power of their collective effort to overcome the initial resistance of getting airborne. This metaphor signifies the strength and support gained from working together towards a common goal, which can enhance chances of survival.

Remember, metaphors are creative and subjective language tools, and their interpretations may vary depending on context and personal perspectives

Denis Bellamy, (IC0l)

Visiting Zooland With “ChatbotGPT”

Friday, July 7th, 2023

Ten personal bodies of knowledge about animals produced by applying artificial intelligence to explore the theme “Birds of a Feather Flock Together Like Animals With Hands In Bands”.

1  Zooland*: the institution of captivity (DS)

“Zooland” is not a specific term but appears to be a fictional name or a metaphorical expression to refer to zoos or the concept of captivity for animals. Zoos are indeed institutions of captivity, where animals are kept in confined spaces for exhibition, educational purposes, and sometimes conservation efforts. This raises ethical and moral considerations regarding the welfare and well-being of the animals.

Proponents of zoos argue that they play crucial roles in education, research, and species conservation. Zoos can offer opportunities for people to learn about animals and their habitats, thereby promoting awareness and fostering support for wildlife conservation. Additionally, many zoos participate in international breeding programs for endangered species to help preserve their populations.

On the other hand, critics of zoos raise concerns about the ethical implications of confinement. They argue that some animals may suffer from stress, behavioral issues, and reduced quality of life due to limited space and lack of enrichment. Moreover, some argue that certain species are not suitable for captivity, as their natural behaviors and needs may be compromised.

Over time, many zoos have been developing to provide more naturalistic and enriching environments for their animals, focusing on animal welfare and conservation efforts. Additionally, some institutions have shifted away from traditional zoos and transformed into “sanctuaries” or “wildlife reserves” that prioritize rehabilitation and releasing animals back into the wild when possible.

As society becomes more aware of the complexities of animal welfare, the debate about the role and ethics of zoos continues. Many argue that while some aspects of zoos are beneficial, the focus should always be on the well-being of the animals and their potential for successful rehabilitation and conservation. It’s essential to continue discussing, researching, and refining the practices in zooland to strike a balance between education, conservation, and ethical treatment of animals.  From this point of view zooland provides the arena for blurring subject boundaries,

2  Blurring boundaries in zooland (NP)

Blurring subject boundaries in education refers to the breaking down of traditional disciplinary boundaries and fostering interdisciplinary approaches to learning. It involves integrating knowledge, skills, and perspectives from multiple subject areas to provide a more holistic and interconnected understanding of the world of animals.

Blurring subject boundaries has gained momentum in education due to several reasons:

  • Real-world complexity: 
  • Many real-world issues and challenges are multifaceted and do not neatly fit within a single discipline. By blurring subject boundaries, educators aim to help students develop a broader understanding of complex issues and develop critical thinking skills necessary for solving real-world problems.
  • Interconnectedness of knowledge
  •  Subjects are often taught in isolation, leading to fragmented knowledge. Blurring subject boundaries emphasizes the interconnectedness of knowledge and encourages students to make connections between different disciplines. This approach helps students see the relevance and applicability of what they learn across various subjects.
  • Fostering creativity and innovation: 
  • Combining different disciplines can spark creativity and innovation. By exposing students to diverse perspectives and approaches, they can think more creatively, solve problems from multiple angles, and develop innovative solutions.
  • Preparing students for future careers:
  • Many careers today require individuals to have a multidisciplinary skill set. By blurring subject boundaries, education can better prepare students for the workforce by equipping them with a broader range of skills and knowledge that are transferable across different domains.

There are various strategies to promote the blurring of subject boundaries in education:

  • Project-based learning: 
  • Engaging students in interdisciplinary projects or problem-solving activities that require the application of knowledge from different subjects.
  • Integrated curriculum: 
  • Designing curriculum that intentionally combines concepts and skills from different disciplines, highlighting their interconnectedness.
  • Team teaching: 
  • Encouraging collaboration among teachers from different subject areas to co-teach lessons or develop integrated units of study.

Flexible scheduling:

Allowing for longer class periods or dedicated time blocks for interdisciplinary activities, enabling in-depth exploration of topics that span multiple subjects.

  • Cross-disciplinary assessments: 
  • Evaluating student learning through assessments that require the integration of knowledge and skills from different disciplines.

Blurring subject boundaries in education can help students develop a deeper understanding of the world, enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and prepare them for the complexities of the modern world.

3  Lateral thinking in zooland (IB)

Lateral thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves thinking outside the box and exploring unconventional, creative, and unexpected solutions to challenges. It encourages individuals to break free from traditional linear thinking and consider alternative perspectives, connections, and possibilities.

The importance of lateral thinking can be summarized in the following points:

  • Encourages innovation and creativity: 
  • Lateral thinking fosters the generation of fresh ideas and innovative solutions. By exploring different angles and approaches, it allows for the discovery of unique and original concepts that can lead to breakthroughs in various fields.
  • Resolves complex problems: 
  • Many problems and challenges cannot be solved through traditional, logical thinking alone. Lateral thinking helps to tackle complex issues by uncovering hidden connections, challenging assumptions, and providing unconventional solutions that may not be immediately apparent.
  • Stimulates critical thinking: 
  • Lateral thinking pushes individuals to question assumptions, analyze situations from multiple perspectives, and evaluate different possibilities. It enhances critical thinking skills by encouraging individuals to consider diverse viewpoints and challenge established norms.
  • Enhances decision-making: 
  • Lateral thinking expands the range of options available when making decisions. By exploring alternative solutions, it allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of potential outcomes and mitigates the risk of overlooking important factors or missing out on creative opportunities.
  • Promotes adaptability and flexibility: 
  • In a rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt and think flexibly is crucial. Lateral thinking promotes adaptive thinking by encouraging individuals to embrace change, explore new ideas, and adapt their strategies and approaches to different situations.
  • Encourages collaboration and teamwork: Lateral thinking is a valuable tool for fostering collaboration and teamwork. By encouraging individuals to consider different perspectives and ideas, it promotes open communication, empathy, and a willingness to listen to others. It can lead to more effective problem-solving and better outcomes in group settings.
  • Nurtures personal growth:
  •  Lateral thinking challenges individuals to step outside their comfort zones, explore new possibilities, and expand their mental horizons. It stimulates curiosity, promotes continuous learning, and encourages individuals to develop a growth mindset, fostering personal growth and development.

In summary, lateral thinking is of great importance as it promotes innovation, helps to solve complex problems, enhances critical thinking and decision-making, fosters adaptability and collaboration, and encourages personal growth. It is a valuable skill for individuals in various domains and can lead to more creative and effective problem-solving approaches.

4  Creative thinking in zooland (SN)

Zoos can promote lateral thinking in several ways, encouraging visitors to think creatively and critically about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts. Lateral thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves considering unconventional ideas and generating innovative solutions. Here are some ways in which zoos can promote lateral thinking:

  • Encouraging Observation and Inquiry: 
  • Zoos provide opportunities for visitors to observe animals in naturalistic settings. Encouraging visitors to ask questions about animal behaviors, adaptations, and interactions can lead to lateral thinking as they try to understand the underlying reasons behind these observations.
  • Interactive Exhibits: 
  • Zoos may have interactive exhibits that challenge visitors to solve puzzles related to animal behavior, diet, or habitat. These hands-on experiences can spark creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Enrichment Activities:
  •  Many zoos implement enrichment programs to keep animals mentally stimulated. Visitors can observe enrichment activities and consider creative ways to engage the animals’ natural behaviors and intelligence.
  • Conservation Initiatives:
  •  Zoos often have conservation programs and exhibits dedicated to showcasing endangered species and the challenges they face. Encouraging visitors to think about conservation solutions, both on a local and global scale, can promote lateral thinking about environmental issues.
  • Educational Programs: 
  • Zoos typically offer educational programs and workshops that delve into animal biology, ecology, and conservation. These programs challenge participants to think critically about the complexities of ecosystems and the interdependence of species.
  • Problem-Solving Challenges:
  •  Some zoos organize problem-solving challenges or scavenger hunts, where visitors must find clues, solve puzzles, or complete tasks related to animals and conservation. These activities require creative thinking and ingenuity.
  • Encouraging Open-Ended Questions: 
  • Zoo staff and educators can encourage open-ended questioning during guided tours or presentations. By asking questions that don’t have straightforward answers, visitors are encouraged to explore different possibilities and think laterally.
  • Art and Storytelling:
  •  Zoos can also incorporate artistic exhibits or storytelling activities related to animals and their habitats. These experiences can spark visitors’ imaginations and encourage them to think creatively about the animal world.
  • Collaborative Activities:
  •  Zoos can design group activities that require collaboration and brainstorming among visitors. By engaging in discussions and exchanging ideas, visitors can develop lateral thinking skills.

By incorporating these elements into their exhibits and educational programs, zoos can encourage visitors to think outside the box, fostering a deeper understanding of wildlife and the importance of conservation.

5  Linnaeus in zooland (DN)

Carl Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné, was an 18th-century Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician. He is renowned for his significant contributions to the development of modern taxonomy and binomial nomenclature, which revolutionized the classification and naming of plants and animals. While Linnaeus was not primarily known as a lateral thinker, his systematic approach and innovative ideas in the field of biological classification did demonstrate certain elements of lateral thinking.

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, referring to a mode of thinking that seeks unconventional and creative solutions to problems. It involves approaching challenges from different angles, exploring diverse perspectives, and breaking away from traditional patterns of thought. While Linnaeus’s work was grounded in a systematic and rigorous approach, his innovative ideas and methods were certainly influential and had a transformative impact on the field of biology.

Linnaeus introduced a standardized system for naming and classifying organisms, which involved assigning two Latin names (a binomial) to each species. This system provided a consistent framework that facilitated the identification and study of plants and animals. It allowed for greater accuracy and efficiency in communication among scientists and laid the foundation for modern taxonomy.

Linnaeus’s approach can be seen as a form of lateral thinking in the sense that he challenged existing classification systems and proposed a new and more efficient method. His system was a departure from the previous cumbersome and inconsistent naming conventions. By introducing a standardized and logical approach to classification, Linnaeus demonstrated creativity and innovation in solving the problem of organizing and naming the vast diversity of living organisms.

Overall, while Linnaeus may not be explicitly considered a lateral thinker in the broader sense, his groundbreaking contributions to taxonomy showcased elements of creative problem-solving and innovative thinking. His work exemplifies how a novel and unconventional approach can lead to significant advancements in scientific understanding.

6  Feathers in zooland (RD)

Feathers are fascinating structures that have played a significant role in the evolution of various species. While feathers are most commonly associated with birds, they have a more complex evolutionary history and have been found in other organisms as well.

Feathers are believed to have originated from reptilian scales. The scales of certain reptiles, such as dinosaurs, underwent modifications over millions of years, eventually evolving into feathers. The exact steps of this evolutionary transition are still a subject of scientific study and debate, but the fossil record provides important clues.

Feathers likely evolved for different purposes throughout history. Initially, they might have served functions such as insulation, display, or even providing an aerodynamic advantage for certain reptiles. Over time, feathers became more specialized and adapted for flight, leading to the emergence of birds as we know them today

The fossil record reveals a continuum of feather-like structures in non-avian dinosaurs, suggesting a gradual evolutionary progression. These structures could have ranged from simple filaments to more complex and branching feathers. The famous Archaeopteryx, an ancient bird-like dinosaur, exhibits a combination of reptilian features and primitive feathers, representing an intermediate stage in the evolution from reptiles to birds.

Feathers have since undergone further diversification in birds. They can serve various functions such as flight, insulation, courtship displays, camouflage, and even sound production. Different bird species exhibit a wide range of feather types, including contour feathers that provide the outer form of the bird, down feathers that provide insulation, and specialized feathers like bristles or filoplumes.

In recent years, scientific discoveries have shed light on the genetic mechanisms underlying feather development. Genes such as the “feather growth gene” (SONIC HEDGEHOG, or SHH) and other regulatory genes play crucial roles in the development and patterning of feathers. Mutations or changes in these genes can lead to alterations in feather structure and appearance.

Beyond birds, feathers have been found in other groups of animals as well. For example, flightless dinosaurs like Velociraptors and Tyrannosaurs had feathers or feather-like structures. Some modern reptiles, such as certain species of lizards, have evolved structures called fringes or flaps that resemble feathers and aid in gliding or aerial maneuvering.

In summary, feathers are complex structures that have evolved over millions of years. They originated from reptilian scales and underwent various modifications to serve different functions. Feathers played a crucial role in the evolution of birds and continue to be a remarkable example of evolutionary adaptation and diversity in the animal kingdom.

7 Feather fashion in zooland (FB)

Feathers have been used for centuries in the realm of fashion and adornment. They possess qualities that make them visually appealing, luxurious, and versatile, which has led to their incorporation into various fashion practices and designs.

Throughout history, feathers have been used to create elaborate headpieces, hats, and accessories. In many cultures, feathers hold symbolic significance and are used to convey status, power, or spirituality. Native American headdresses, for example, often feature vibrant feathers as a representation of honor and valor. Feathers have also been utilized in ceremonial attire, theatrical costumes, and traditional festival garments worldwide.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the use of feathers in fashion peaked, particularly in the millinery industry. The demand for feathers, especially those from exotic birds like ostriches, herons, and egrets, led to the development of an industry known as plume hunting. This practice resulted in severe ecological consequences and the endangerment of several bird species.

In response to growing conservation concerns, laws and regulations were enacted to protect birds and restrict feather trade. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 in the United States, for instance, made it illegal to hunt migratory birds and sell their feathers. These regulations significantly impacted the fashion industry, leading to a decline in the use of feathers in mainstream fashion.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in feathers as a fashion statement. However, ethical considerations and sustainable sourcing have gained prominence. Many designers now prioritize using synthetic or ethically sourced feathers, or they opt for alternative materials that mimic the appearance and texture of feathers. Faux feathers made from synthetic fibers or recycled materials offer a cruelty-free and environmentally conscious option for incorporating feather-like elements into fashion.

Feathers continue to be used as accents in high fashion runway shows, red carpet events, and editorial shoots. They can add texture, movement, and a touch of extravagance to garments, accessories, and even footwear. From feather-trimmed gowns to feathered earrings or handbags, designers use feathers to create unique and visually striking pieces.

It’s worth noting that the use of feathers in fashion remains a topic of debate, particularly concerning animal welfare, conservation, and cultural appropriation. It is important for designers, consumers, and the fashion industry as a whole to be mindful of these issues and make responsible choices to ensure the ethical and sustainable use of feathers in fashion.

8 Moulting in zooland (JS)

Molting, or the process of shedding and replacing feathers, is a natural and essential part of a bird’s life cycle. Birds molt to maintain the health and functionality of their feathers, as well as to adapt to seasonal changes, breeding requirements, and other factors. Here are some key aspects of molting in birds:

  • Purpose: 
  • Molting serves several purposes for birds. It allows them to replace old or damaged feathers, ensuring the integrity of their plumage for flight, insulation, and displays. Molting also provides an opportunity for birds to change their appearance, such as acquiring more vibrant breeding plumage or camouflaging for different habitats.
  • Timing: 
  • Molting occurs at different times and frequencies depending on the species, environmental factors, and individual bird’s life stage. Many birds undergo a complete molt once a year, typically after the breeding season. However, some species, such as ducks or gulls, may have two molting periods each year. Molting can also be influenced by factors like food availability, weather conditions, and migratory patterns.
  • Feather Replacement: The molting process involves the sequential replacement of feathers. Birds shed their feathers gradually rather than all at once to maintain their ability to fly. Feathers are shed symmetrically, meaning that a bird will lose and replace feathers on both sides of its body simultaneously. New feathers grow underneath the old ones, and once the new feathers have fully developed, the old ones fall out.
  • Molting Patterns:
  • Birds exhibit different molting patterns, which can vary among species. Some birds molt all their flight feathers simultaneously, resulting in a temporary flightless period. This type of molt is known as a “catastrophic molt.” Other birds undergo a “sequential molt,” where they replace feathers gradually over a more extended period, allowing them to maintain flight capability throughout the process.
  • Molting Strategies:
  • Certain bird species employ specific molting strategies to optimize their survival and reproductive success. For example, long-distance migratory birds may time their molting to coincide with their migration, ensuring they have fresh feathers for their journey. Other birds molt before the breeding season, enabling them to acquire bright breeding plumage to attract mates.
  • Nutritional Considerations: 
  • Molting requires considerable energy and resources, so birds need proper nutrition during this period. They require a balanced diet with adequate protein and nutrients to support feather growth. Birds often increase their food intake during molting to meet these nutritional demands.
  • Molting in Captivity: 
  • Molting behavior can vary in captive birds, as factors like artificial lighting and controlled environments can influence their natural molting cycles. To support healthy molting in captive birds, it is important to provide appropriate lighting conditions, a varied and nutritious diet, and a stress-free environment.

Overall, molting is a crucial process for birds to maintain their feather quality, adapt to changing conditions, and fulfill their biological requirements. It is a fascinating aspect of avian biology that showcases the remarkable adaptability and resilience of birds.

Birds use a variety of signals to communicate with each other, and color is one of the significant ways they convey messages. Colorful plumage in birds serves several communication functions, including species recognition, mate attraction, individual recognition, social status, and territorial displays. Here are some ways in which birds use color to communicate:

  • Species Recognition: 
  • Different bird species often have distinct color patterns and combinations that aid in species recognition. This helps birds identify their own species for mating, territorial boundaries, and social interactions.
  • Mate Attraction: 
  • Many male birds develop vibrant and elaborate plumage during the breeding season to attract females. These bright colors, such as the vibrant plumage of male peacocks or the brilliant red throat patch of a male ruby-throated hummingbird, serve as signals of genetic quality, health, and reproductive fitness.
  • Female Choice: 
  • Female birds often assess male plumage colors during mate selection. They may prefer males with brighter or more intense colors, which could indicate good genetic quality or provide information about a male’s ability to acquire resources, defend territories, or provide parental care.
  • Individual Recognition: 
  • Color patterns on birds’ bodies, particularly on their heads or chests, can serve as individual recognition markers within a species. These unique colorations help birds identify and interact with specific individuals, such as mates, family members, or members of their social group.
  • Social Status and Territorial Displays: 
  • In some bird species, dominant or higher-ranking individuals may display brighter or more striking colors compared to subordinate individuals. These color signals indicate social status and can play a role in establishing dominance hierarchies or territorial boundaries. Aggressive displays involving color, such as puffing up feathers to reveal vivid patterns, can also be used to deter or intimidate rivals.
  • Warning and Signaling: Birds can use coloration as a warning signal to potential predators or competitors. Bright or contrasting colors can indicate toxicity, unpalatability, or danger. For example, some species of birds possess bright warning colors to indicate that they are poisonous or that they have defenses like stinging or biting capabilities.

It is important to note that not all bird communication relies solely on color. Birds also use vocalizations, body postures, displays, and other visual cues in combination with color to convey a complete message. The specific colors and their meaning can vary greatly among different bird species, reflecting the diversity and complexity of avian communication strategies.

9 Primates in zooland (HT)

Primates share several common characteristics that distinguish them from other mammals. Here are some of the key features and traits that primates typically have in common:

  • Forward-facing eyes:
  • Primates generally have eyes positioned at the front of their face, which allows for binocular vision and depth perception.
  • Grasping hands and feet: 
  • Primates possess hands and feet with opposable thumbs and, in many cases, opposable big toes. This adaptation enables them to grasp objects and manipulate their environment more effectively.
  • Nails instead of claws: 
  • Primates typically have flattened nails instead of sharp claws on their fingers and toes, which aids in precise gripping and dexterity.
  • Enhanced sense of touch: 
  • Primates have a highly developed sense of touch, particularly in their hands and fingers, allowing for intricate exploration and fine motor control.
  • Complex social structure:
  •  Most primates, including humans, exhibit complex social behavior and live in social groups. They engage in various forms of communication, such as vocalizations, facial expressions, and body language.
  • Large brain relative to body size: 
  • Primates generally have relatively large brains compared to other mammals of similar body size. This increased brain size is associated with higher cognitive abilities, problem-solving skills, and learning capacity.
  • Parental care and extended childhood: 
  • Primates commonly exhibit a longer period of parental care and a more extended childhood compared to other mammals. Offspring receive significant attention and learning from their parents or social group members.
  • Dietary flexibility: 
  • Primates have a diverse diet, including fruits, leaves, seeds, insects, and sometimes meat. This dietary flexibility allows them to adapt to various habitats and ecological niches.

It’s important to note that while these characteristics are typical of primates, there can be variations within the primate order, and not all primates may possess every single trait listed above.

10 Naming in zooland (SH)

Species and subspecies are concepts used to categorize and classify living organisms based on their similarities and differences. These terms are primarily used in the field of taxonomy, which is the science of classifying and naming organisms.


A species is a fundamental unit of biological classification. It represents a group of organisms that are capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring in nature. Members of the same species share similar genetic and physical characteristics and can mate with each other to produce viable offspring. However, they are typically reproductively isolated from members of other species.

The naming of species follows a binomial nomenclature system, where each species is given a unique scientific name consisting of two parts: the genus name and the species epithet. For example, Homo sapiens is the scientific name for humans, where “Homo” is the genus and “sapiens” is the species epithet.


A subspecies, also known as a race or a variety, is a taxonomic rank below the level of species. It represents a geographically or genetically distinct population within a species that shares most of the characteristics of the species but differs in some traits. Subspecies are often defined based on variations in physical appearance, genetic makeup, or ecological adaptations.

The scientific name of a subspecies includes an additional third part, known as the trinomial name, which further specifies the subspecies. For example, Panthera leo leo refers to the African lion subspecies, while Panthera leo persica refers to the Asiatic lion subspecies.

Subspecies can arise due to various factors such as geographic isolation, ecological adaptation to different environments, or genetic divergence over time. They often occupy specific regions or habitats and may exhibit distinct morphological, behavioral, or physiological characteristics.

It’s important to note that the classification of species and subspecies can sometimes be subjective to ongoing scientific debate. Advances in genetic research have provided new insights into the relationships between organisms, leading to revisions in the classification of certain species and subspecies over time.

* Chatbot technology can be utilized effectively in education to enhance learning experiences and support students and educators with particular reference to personalized learning.  Chatbots can add personalized learning experiences by adapting content and activities to individual student needs. They can assess student knowledge, provide relevant resources and materials, and offer immediate feedback and guidance. In other words the teacher is a mentor.  This blog presents a selection of essays produced by  students aged 14 to 16 (the Cardiff humanist group).  It was an end of term project for each student to use artificial intelligence to develop their own body of knowledge about the biodiversity of birds and primates in “zooland” as an “institution of captivity”; it is a work in progress.

Denis Bellamy, (IC0l)

Education for a climate crisis

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

1 Key Aspects

Education plays a crucial role in addressing the climate crisis. It is essential to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the challenges posed by climate change and to take informed action to mitigate its impacts. Here are some key aspects of education for the climate crisis:

  • Climate Science: 
  • Education should provide a solid understanding of the science behind climate change, including the causes, impacts, and potential solutions. This includes topics such as the greenhouse effect, rising global temperatures, extreme weather events, and the role of human activities in driving climate change
  • Sustainability and Conservation:
  •  Promoting sustainable practices and conservation is essential in mitigating climate change. Education should focus on teaching individuals about renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable agriculture, and responsible consumption patterns.
  • Systems Thinking: 
  • Climate change is a complex issue that requires a systemic approach. Education should encourage critical thinking and help individuals understand the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental systems. This includes exploring the impacts of climate change on different sectors such as agriculture, water resources, biodiversity, and human health.
  • Climate Adaptation and Resilience: 
  • As climate change continues, communities need to adapt and build resilience to its impacts. Education should highlight strategies for climate adaptation, such as urban planning for extreme weather events, designing resilient infrastructure, and promoting sustainable land and water management practices.
  • Environmental Citizenship: 
  • Education should foster a sense of environmental citizenship, empowering individuals to become active participants in addressing the climate crisis. This includes promoting civic engagement, encouraging sustainable lifestyle choices, and advocating for policy changes and collective action.
  • Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives: 
  • Recognizing and respecting indigenous knowledge and perspectives on climate change is crucial. Education should incorporate traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous practices that have sustained ecosystems for generations, fostering a holistic understanding of the environment and its interconnectedness with human societies.
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches: 
  • Climate change is a multifaceted challenge that requires interdisciplinary approaches. Education should encourage collaboration across various disciplines, such as science, technology, engineering, arts, and social sciences, to foster innovation and holistic solutions to the climate crisis.
  • Global Perspective: 
  • Climate change is a global issue, and education should provide a global perspective on its impacts and solutions. This includes learning about international climate agreements, understanding the disparities in vulnerability and responsibility among different countries, and promoting global cooperation to address climate change collectively
  • Practical Skills: 
  • Education should equip individuals with practical skills to take action in their daily lives. This includes skills such as sustainable gardening, energy conservation, eco-friendly transportation options, and the ability to critically evaluate and implement sustainable technologies.
  • Lifelong Learning: 
  • Education for the climate crisis should promote lifelong learning and continuous engagement. As climate science and solutions evolve, individuals should be encouraged to stay updated, adapt their knowledge and practices, and contribute to ongoing efforts to address climate change.

By integrating these elements into formal and informal education systems, we can create a well-informed and empowered generation capable of tackling the challenges of the climate crisis and creating a more sustainable future.

2 Cultural ecology: an interdisciplinary ideational scaffold

Cultural ecology is an interdisciplinary field that serves as an ideational scaffold, providing a framework for understanding the complex relationship between human societies and their environments. It combines insights from various disciplines such as anthropology, geography, sociology, archaeology, and ecology to examine the ways in which culture and environment interact and influence each other.

At its core, cultural ecology recognizes that human societies are not separate from their natural surroundings but are deeply intertwined with them. It acknowledges that culture is not only a product of social and historical processes but is also shaped by the ecological conditions in which societies exist. Similarly, the environment is not seen as a static backdrop, but as a dynamic force that shapes and constrains human activities and cultural practices.

Cultural ecologists study the ways in which different cultures adapt to and transform their environments. They explore how societies develop unique strategies and technologies to exploit natural resources, organize their social systems, and respond to environmental challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, or natural disasters. This interdisciplinary approach allows cultural ecologists to analyze the reciprocal relationship between human culture and the natural environment, understanding how cultural beliefs, values, and practices influence resource management, land use patterns, and environmental conservation efforts.

The ideational scaffold provided by cultural ecology allows researchers to address complex questions about the interactions between culture and environment. It helps in examining the historical processes that have shaped human-environment relationships and in understanding the cultural factors that influence contemporary environmental issues. By integrating insights from different disciplines, cultural ecology offers a holistic perspective that considers both the material and symbolic dimensions of human-environment interactions.

Moreover, cultural ecology is not only a theoretical framework but also a practical approach that has implications for policy and management. It provides valuable insights into sustainable development, natural resource management, and environmental conservation by emphasizing the importance of understanding the cultural dimensions of environmental issues. Recognizing that culture plays a central role in shaping human behavior and attitudes towards the environment, cultural ecology encourages the inclusion of local knowledge, beliefs, and practices in environmental decision-making processes.

In summary, cultural ecology serves as an interdisciplinary ideational scaffold by providing a framework for studying the complex interplay between culture and environment. It helps researchers and policymakers understand the ways in which human societies adapt to, transform, and interact with their natural surroundings. By integrating perspectives from multiple disciplines, cultural ecology offers a comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationship between culture, society, and the environment, with practical implications for sustainable development and environmental management.

3 An Environmental Syllabus of Radical Hope

Course Overview:

The Environmental Syllabus of Radical Hope is an interdisciplinary course that explores the intersection of environmentalism, activism, and the concept of radical hope. This course aims to inspire and empower students to take action and make a positive impact on the environment while cultivating a mindset of optimism and resilience. Through readings, discussions, and hands-on activities, students will develop a deep understanding of environmental issues and learn how to channel their hope into effective environmental advocacy.

Course Objectives:

  • Understand the concept of radical hope and its relevance to environmental activism.
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of key environmental challenges and their global implications.
  • Explore different environmental movements and their strategies for creating change.
  • Analyze the psychological and emotional aspects of activism and cultivate resilience.
  • Identify opportunities for individual and collective action in addressing environmental issues.
  • Apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to develop innovative solutions.
  • Engage in practical activities to contribute to environmental sustainability and conservation efforts.
  • Foster collaboration and community engagement in environmental initiatives.

Course Outline:

Module 1: Introduction to Radical Hope

  • Defining radical hope and its significance in the context of environmental activism
  • Historical and philosophical perspectives on hope and its role in social change
  • Exploring the relationship between hope, despair, and action

Module 2: Understanding Environmental Challenges

  • Climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and societies
  • Loss of biodiversity and the consequences for the planet
  • Pollution and waste management issues
  • Resource depletion and sustainable development

Module 3: Environmental Movements and Strategies

  • Historical overview of environmental movements (e.g., conservation, environmental justice, climate justice)
  • Case studies of successful environmental campaigns
  • Examining different approaches to advocacy and activism

Module 4: Psychology and Resilience in Activism

  • Emotional well-being and self-care in environmental advocacy
  • Dealing with eco-anxiety and burnout
  • Building resilience and fostering hope in the face of challenges

Module 5: Individual and Collective Action

  • Sustainable lifestyle choices and their impact on the environment
  • Responsible consumption and waste reduction
  • Effective communication and engagement with policymakers and communities

Module 6: Innovation and Solutions

  • Introduction to sustainable technologies and practices
  • Design thinking and problem-solving for environmental challenges
  • Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in the environmental sector

Module 7: Hands-On Activities and Projects

  • Field trips to environmental organizations and initiatives
  • Volunteer work with local conservation projects or community gardens
  • Group projects focused on addressing specific environmental issues

Module 8: Collaboration and Community Engagement

  • Building partnerships with local communities, NGOs, and government agencies
  • Organizing awareness campaigns and events
  • Promoting environmental education and empowerment

Assessment Methods:

  • Class participation and engagement in discussions
  • Written reflections on course readings and activities
  • Individual and group projects
  • Practical assignments related to sustainability and activism
  • Final presentation or portfolio showcasing students’ learning and contributions to environmental causes

Note: The syllabus outlined above is a sample curriculum and can be modified and expanded based on the specific requirements and resources available in a given educational institution or program.

Denis Bellamy

Go Kandinsky

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

1  Art That Reveals Hope

Fig 1:Water colour #2.  Wassily Kandinsky, (1911)

In 2011 the Scottish philosopher Alastair McIntosh curated a conference entitled ‘Kandinsky in Govan’. Govan was, and is still, a part of Glasgow that ranks among the most economically deprived areas in Europe.  This was the geographical cultural focus of the conference, to make things better.  Keynote speakers included leading art experts and the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, The aim was to reveal how art can speak positively in places of poverty today. 

 The conference was hosted by community groups that suffered from high unemployment and many social problems, but which retained a powerful community spirit and much artistic talent.  For example, since 2001 Plantation Productions, a registered charity, has delivered a wide range of arts and media activities and events in the south-west area of Glasgow.  The objective has been to provide  opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to benefit from engaging in the creative arts, where access to such services may otherwise be limited.  The projects were aimed at delivering outcome-based programmes to increase the life chances of people facing disadvantage; improve opportunities for families and communities and raise the profile of the area they serve. 

In the long history of Govan ‘Kandinsky in Govan’ could be seen as just another top down, short term, charitable initiative. But its novel aspect was an attempt to embed arts reasoning to express sustainability. The importance of Wassili Kandinsky, (1866-1944), in this process is that he was one of the inventors of abstract art (perhaps more accurately, non-representational or object-free art). In 1911 he produced the first abstract watercolor that concentrated on colors and shapes free from the usual subjects or objects of the outside world (Fig1).  

Kandinsky writes: 

“It has been said… that art is the child of its age. Such an art can only create an artistic future, which is only a child of the age and cannot become a mother of the Future.  She is transitory and to all intent dies the moment the atmosphere alters which nourished her. The other art, that which is capable of educating further, springs equally from contemporary feeling, but is at the same time not only echo and mirror of it, but also has a deep and powerful prophetic strength.”  

The ‘other art’ is abstraction, which he saw as a language that was not only capable of expressing deeper truths but also of communicating them to all the senses.  Abstraction applied arts’ reasoning to help draw forth a more sustainable and humane world.  In particular, Kandinsky viewed non-objective, abstract art as the ideal visual mode and language to express the “inner necessity” of people.  ‘Inner necessity’ is a major principle of art dealing with the foundation of forms and the harmony of colours.  Kandinsky defines it as the principle of the efficient contact of form and colour with the human imagination to embed and convey universal human emotions, ideas and values. He viewed himself as a prophet whose mission was to share this ideal of inner necessity with the world for the betterment of society. He realised he was placing new demands on his viewers, declaring that ‘an evolution in observance was necessary’. This meant the spectator had to take part in the creation of a meaning for the work, almost as if in a mystic ritual. In other words, the role of ‘Kandinsky in Govan’ was to acknowledge and apply abstract art as a social service to build an innovative cluster of learning, research and industry.  The long-term objective was to stimulate  community engagement with the future of Govan starting with the arts, inspiring social change to make it a more attractive place to live, visit and work.  This had to begin with  providing proactive, ‘go to spaces’ for people in areas characterized by poor availability of good work who want to discuss how to build good work which binds communities as one.  In this respect, McIntosh wrote in The Guardian. 

“I hear people yearning for what Kandinsky saw as prophetic art. Art that reveals hope. Art that breathes the flow of life into the veins.”

2 Spiritual Activism

Matt Carmichael and Alastair McIntosh, in their book ‘Spiritual Activism: Leadership As Service’ use the expression ‘spiritual activism’ (2015)  to mean the spiritual underpinning of action for social and ecological justice.

“It is an underpinning, because it is not sufficient to think of spirituality – that which gives life, – as an optional “dimension” or “element”. If activism is not grounded in spirituality it cannot be sustained in the long run: we either burn out or sell out as the oil of life runs low. We need replenishment from the wellheads of life itself. No matter what religious tradition we may or may not be coming from, this re-sourcing is a question of depth psychology and, we argue, ultimately one of spirituality’.

In October 1911 Kandinsky had gathered his ideas to promote spiritual activism in a little book that he called “Über das Geistige in der Kunst” – usually translated as ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’. Until the invention of abstraction artists were  concerned with depicting human physicality.  Physicality is a noun that defines the physical body and  the needs to make connect with the body through exercise, meditation, massage, dancing, eating and drinking, or sexuality

Spirituality is a broader concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience, something that touches us all. People often describe their spirituality simply as a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness with people and nature.  

Spirituality is a noun. It defines thoughts and beliefs about how we should think, feel, or behave about a particular group of people, an activity, a time, or a place.   It goes with the claim that abstract art frees our brain from the dominance of reality.  Rather than trying to figure out what the painting looks like, just allow yourself to be taken in by it. See what emotions, sensations or memories emerge. Let your eyes relax and travel around the piece without expectation. Examine the colors, forms, materials, surface, and how they interact with each other and produce the third dimension. Take your time. Let the work “speak” to you, enabling it to flow within its inner states.  Create new emotional and cognitive associations, and activate brain-states that are otherwise harder to reach. This process is rewarding as far as it enables the exploration of yet undiscovered inner territories of mental spirituality that generate our values.  

What we value exerts an important influence on our behaviour.  Intrinsic values are those which are inherently rewarding; such as creativity, social justice and connection with nature. Extrinsic values are centered on external approval or rewards; for instance wealth, social status, self image and personal security. We’re each motivated by all these values to some degree and our dominant personal values can change through our lives..

These are just some of the ways in which people can express and cultivate their spirituality where making and viewing abstract art is the catalyst.

  • relate to friends, family, and neighbours in ways that give and receive love, support, kindness, guidance, loyalty, and forgiveness;
  • Express yourself  creatively or artistically (e.g., woodworking or sewing, writing poetry or making music, painting or sculpting);
  • appreciate visual or performing arts (e.g., attending a concert, visiting an art gallery, or going to a movie);
  • read books and engage in conversations about the meaning of life;
  • Pay attention to the movements of your emotional life, the stirrings of the spirit evident in sadness, longing, love, anxiety/fear, anger, joy, pride, hope, and compassion;
  • enjoy the natural world (e.g., gardening or hiking, watching songbirds or sunsets, traveling to scenic places, spending time at a cottage, savoring the first snowfall or spring buds;
  • enjoying comedy and humour (e.g., light-hearted banter in everyday conversation, the capacity to see the joke in life’s discouraging moments, or comedies on the stage or in books or movies);
  • trying to live ethically, by integrating justice and fairness, peace-making, or green practices into their lives.

Love, trust, and forgiveness are important in your search for meaning within relationships. You grow spiritually as you learn to do these things:

  • love and care for yourself, express compassion for others, delight in the natural and human-made worlds, and cherish your place and participation in the web of life;
  • trust your intuitions and conscience, develop trustworthy relationships, trust that meaning can be found in every moment and place of your life, discern whom you can trust, and trust that the universe (or higher entity) is friendly no matter what happens;
  • forgive yourself for failures and wrongdoing, seek justice when you have been abused or wronged, let go of the desire for revenge when you have been hurt, accept that in the big picture you are accepted and valued just as you are.

3 Adaptable Blogging Clusters 

There are currently no real grassroots spaces, institutions or methods to enable  people to talk about their future of work, as individuals looking to change their lives, or as members of a community looking for a sustainable future. This hampers meaningful involvement in the design of work futures and is probably the reason why past top down community initiatives, like the ones in Govan, have failed to take root .   However, we now live in a world driven by social media, there is no escaping it. So ignoring social media’s potential to advance and enhance adaptive bottom up communication is a dangerous oversight. 

This potential can be realised by the formation of blogging communities.  These are groups of bloggers formed around a central idea, commonality or interest.  Such communities exist to help writers connect around shared characteristics and blog topics, offering them a chance to grow together and learn from one another’s experiences.  A suitable mantra is “all failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation”. 

We are at the beginning of using blogging for social and educational purposes.  Blogs allow others to easily interact and converse in a public setting. They allow Internet users to communicate more easily than most websites, through tools such as comments, trackbacks and social network bookmarking. Interaction is the key to building a successful blogging platform as the go-to places for spiritual activism.  In this connection, the Adaptable Blogging Cluster (ABC) (Fig 2)  has been established on the Google Blogger platform by International Classrooms On Line to exemplify the data  basing logic of  a citizen’s environmental network 

Fig 2 A blogging system using Google Blogger

The ABC  is a group of organisations, families and individuals signed up independently to Google Blogger.  They create free blogs and posts and can invite comments on the posts. It is an adaptive micro learning, tool where people and organisations can upload authored information packages and download selected bite size pieces of content according to their ability level. 

4 Purposes Of An ‘ABC’

An ABC should:

• provide support to those who want to undertake career transitions, working with and promoting adult education and work placement opportunities with skills providers and local businesses. 

• disseminate information about how local and national government shapes the futures of work. This is a precursor to residents effectively engaging in opportunities to shape their collective work future and the architecture and infrastructure that supports it. 

• provide space for community led dialogue about how to build futures of work which match the community. 

• ensure a strong level of youth participation in conversations about the future of work. 

The role of public art reflects a community and its surroundings working to cultivate a cultural identity by setting a community apart and attracting people to its uniqueness. Artwork of any kind helps express a community’s values and creates an elevated sense of awareness for community members and visitors.  The special role of abstract art is to encourage the brain to respond in a less restrictive and stereotypical manner, exploring new associations, activating alternative paths for emotions, and forming new creative links in the brain.   Therefore, abstract art will always remain  popular and current because it is not defined by the artist, the time in which it was created or a subject.  Abstract art is emotionally and aesthetically malleable according to the needs of its makers and viewers.  In other words every community should ‘Go Kandinsky and create a citizen’s environmental network’.(CEN) 

The following three ideas for CENs  could provide the basis for ABC solutions,

(ii) The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), first published in 1994, proposes a national (CEN) consisting  of  groupings of schools, communities and individuals to celebrate local nature sites.  The Plan suggests that local nature can be protected and promoted in many ways; through the media, tourism and local Government policy. In the longer term it might also reflect the growing interest in building design in harmony with local landscape, materials and traditions. 

The Government’s idea was that a CEN could help mobilize the community and individuals as a collective devoted to local conservation management.   In particular, it could emphasize the role of biodiversity in local culture and foster personal understandings of being at one with nature. The BAP states that Government will continue to work with voluntary bodies, Local Agenda 21, and business and will vigorously promote the schemes for which it is directly responsible. In addition the BAP says that Government will aim to increase awareness of environmental issues, including conserving and enhancing biodiversity, enlisting support and commitment.  These initiatives can take a variety of forms. They may be led in some instances by a local authority, in others by voluntary groups, the Chamber of Commerce, local churches and so on.  The BAP goes on to say that the action taken could include round table discussions of local problems and opportunities, public awareness campaigns and practical projects. 

For England the idea was that the Department of the Environment would select a small number of voluntary groups, institutions, and consultancies and invite them to tender for a commission to act as a central secretariat to this process. The secretariat would build a register of the local initiatives and put people in touch with each other – creating an informal and varied Network.  These schemes did not materialize.

(ii)  After the 1992 Environment Summit thousands of young people from nearly 100 countries worked together summarising the outcome as a book entitled ‘Resque Mission Planet Earth’, lavishly illustrated with their artwork and writings.  In the section called Getting It Together they described their aims and aspirations for a global network of youth Fig 3.

Fig 3 A global democracy of Youth.

They described  their vision as follows

“The first thing to do is to select issues not representatives. That way, we can all choose what we want to talk about, after which the question of who does the talking is less important. The first place to organize is in our schools. Each Rescue Mission will start with a conference where we would decide the issues and elect a small action council to see things get done. Like the children’s councils in France, we will have regular access to local government and work with them, perhaps to organize the Local Agenda 21.

With experience at the local level, we’ll be ready to ask for access to state governments. 

Representatives from all local councils in our state, region or province will take priority issues decided by local conferences and discuss them at a state conference, again, electing a council to see that things get done. This council would work with state governments to make sure things get done. The final goal is to move on to national, continental and international levels – a step-ladder the things that concern you and me can be carried to the highest levels of power. This is the kind of structure we need to make the Rescue Mission work.

The key to it all is keeping in touch with each other. This is hard to do with the language differences, distances, phone bills etc. The solution is to set up a series of Youth Centres around the world, run by young people from different countries. Their job would be to help set up and promote the Action Councils and to keep in touch with each other. The Rescue Mission will be promoted chiefly through the many existing eco-groups, scouts, guides etc. The Youth Centres will simply promote and network their work and success around the world. Children and governments in the rich world must help pay for centres to be set up in developing countries. Young people from rich and poor countries will work together to making each centre like a youth United Nations – a place where anybody can get the information they want on global problems. It would also be a place where local young people can meet, hang out and chat. Working there for 6 months to a year should be an option to replace National Service. Al Gore sees the Rescue Mission as a way of collecting eco-information. Many of us do that already and it would be good to network that information globally. But this structure could do other things, especially help developing countries. If Mr Gore is serious about partnership, we hope that he will sit down and hear our ideas as well.

That means access. Something we’ve never had. Sure we’ve had photo-opportunities: politicians standing surrounded by kids, or kissing babies. Now we need them really to listen to us. The day could be on different days in different countries but once a year, perhaps on the International Day of Peace (3rd Tuesday in September), we would gather all the results and tell the general public what our leaders have said – how far they kept the promises they made to us the previous year.

Who can participate? Anyone under the age of 18. Non-voters. Older people will be welcome as staff and advisers; (remember -Agenda 21 is about making partnerships!) But under 18s will be in control”.

(iii) Postcards are fundamental learning tools for collecting and organizing paper information. Working with a postcard database does not need a computer but there is always an option to integrate it seamlessly into an electronically networked information society.  Indeed, as a basic teaching tool, every postcard has a story to tell about the culture of its maker. Using postcards in class can be a motivating writing task and add a level of stimulation for students. A person sending and receiving postcards at home can quickly build a personal body of knowledge about environmental issues and the skills to tackle them.

Postcards were the first global social network binding the world together with common interests, creating links between people, places, and beliefs. Today they can alert people of all ages about the wonder of creation and the need to bring the climate crisis to the centre of education at all levels for living sustainably.  There are  forums where you can talk in your own language and share information/cards across social and political boundaries about what you are doing, or should do, individually or collectively to make the world a better place.  This means defining social action and active citizenship.

5 Blogging About Social Action & Active Citizenship

Historically, citizenship education has been understood in two ways: as promoting responsible citizens through reflective inquiry, and as active citizenship learned through social action. The responsible citizen approach proposes that schools can prepare students for their civic role by developing their ability to form thoughtful opinions on matters of public policy. Advocates of active citizenship agree that reflective thinking about public matters is important but suggest that students should learn to act on their beliefs. Active citizenship within an ABC challenges students to identify, plan and carry out responsible community actions. Participation in responsible social action is necessary if students are to become participatory citizens. By putting reflective inquiry “to work”, using social media, active citizenship provides students with opportunities to test their ideas and learn about personal efficacy through social action. 

The Bigger Picture

Why Schools Should Teach The Curriculum Of The Future

The Govan Portal

The Grimsby Project

What Does The Brain Tell Us?

Social Action Projects

International Classrooms On Line

A Leap For Wales

Sunday, August 7th, 2022

The logic for making community action plans to change things for the better  Version 1 05/07/2012   

1 Advantages of community engagement  

A national government view  

In 2010, the Social Justice Department of the Welsh Government produced an action plan to  develop a high quality and responsive community development sector in Wales, with a focus  on bringing about change founded on social justice, equality and inclusion. The aim is to  strengthen Wales’s economic performance and transform the life chances of people in Wales.  This requires a community development workforce that can support the creation of an  inclusive society that encourages individuals to achieve their potential and contribute to  society and their communities. The objective therefore is to transform learning for young  people and adults by facilitating communities to identify their own needs and aspirations, take  action to exert influence on the decisions which affect their lives, improve the quality of their  own lives, the communities in which they live, and societies of which they are a part.  

A local government view  

Wrexham Borough Council Leader Aled Roberts has illustrated through a series of examples  how his own local authority had benefited from involving residents in setting up and running  local services. This experience also demonstrated that there is no single model of  neighbourhood regeneration because communities are best placed to decide how it should be  done. Quoted from ‘’Bringing Neighbourhood Centre Stage in Wales; 2008′ 

A community view  

‘Come Outside!’ was a Wales-wide scheme, which enables communities to gain the benefits  that the outdoors has to offer. By addressing community needs and aspirations through  outdoor activities, participation becomes valued and the benefits are sustained. Dave Horton,  Senior Community Development Worker Ely/Caerau, where this scheme was tested in  Cardiff, said:  

 “This project is aimed at uniting the communities of Ely and Caerau and giving people the  confidence to enjoy their local environment.  

“It also offers the local community a chance to learn new conservation skills such as planning  and managing green spaces.”  

A school view  

“Schools should engage with families and the broader community, including businesses, other  statutory agencies and the voluntary sector. Schools also need to work with other agencies to  address the well-being and citizen aspirations of individual learners. When schools work with  other agencies to deliver joined-up programmes, the full range of resources and expertise can  be harnessed to deliver improved learner outcomes and well-being.”  

2 General logic model for community change  

A logic model is a story or picture of how an effort or initiative is supposed to work. The  process of developing the model brings together stakeholders to articulate the goals of the  program and the values that support it, and to identify strategies with desired outcomes of the  initiative. These strategic plans are turned into action plans using an operational planning and  recording system.  

As a means to communicate a program visually, within a coalition or work group and to  present it to external audiences, a logic model provides a common language and reference  point for everyone involved in the initiative.  

A logic model is essential for collaborative community planning, implementing a plan and  evaluating the initiative. It helps stakeholders in the neighbourhood to agree on short-term as  well as long-term objectives during the planning process, decide on activities and actors, and  establish clear criteria for evaluation during the effort. When the initiative ends, it provides a  framework for assessing overall effectiveness of the initiative, as well as the activities,  resources, and external factors that played a role in the outcome.  

To develop a specific model, it will probably be necessary to use both forward and reverse  logic. Working backwards, a start can be made with the desired outcomes and then identify  the strategies and resources leading to projects that will accomplish them. Combining this  with forward logic produces an operational pathway to produce the desired effects (Fig 1).  

Fig 1 General community planning logic

The model will probably be revised. This is precisely one advantage to using a logic model.  because it relates program activities to their effect,. It helps keep stakeholders focused on  achieving outcomes, while it remains flexible and open to finding the best means to enact a  unique story of change. For these reasons it is important to start with a prepared document  template. It is important that this template produced a ‘live’ document that is kept up  to date and does not gather dust on the shelf.  

An understanding of planning logic is necessary for all human activities, from baking a cake  to running a multi-national corporation. The basic procedure for making a community action  plan is to set a measurable objective for a feature of the neighbourhood that raises a local  issue, schedule the work to be done to meet the goal, and report what was actually done.  Monitoring is then carried out to check how close the outcome is to the objective. Plans are  essentially diaries of what to do, what was done, what the outcome was and what remains to  be done. 

Making a start with local ‘green’ issues is good beginning because the increase and  maintenance of local biodiversity is the central principle of sustainable development on all  geographical scales and is closely associated with the establishment of a sense of place. This  could be tidying up waste ground, tree planting etc.  

Sense of place encompasses the meanings that a given place holds for people and the  attachments that people develop for that place. It is expressed when people say they feel good  about where they live.  

There is a broad environmental element, pinpointed by what have come to be known as ‘front  door issues of environmental poverty’ and an economic element (the ‘back kitchen’ issues of  traditional poverty.  

Environmental justice seeks solutions to front door issues of environmental poverty.  These issues are usually defined in the ‘square mile’ where people live, walk and socialise.  

The overall aim of a logic model for making an action plan for community change is therefore  to increase the proportion of people who feel good about their square mile/neighbourhood’.  Success in achieving this objective is measured with simple before and after surveys that can  be done within the community. Valid and reliable surveys for measuring sense of place exist  and have been tested successfully as assessment instruments. These yield outcome  performance indicators of the community action plan.  

Factors influencing community well being are many and varied:  

i Sociability, which includes:  

Number of women, children and elderly  

Social networks  


Evening use of the neighbourhood  

Street life  

ii Uses and activities, which includes:  

Ownership of local business  

Land use patterns  

Property values  

Rent levels  


iii Comfort and image, which includes  


Sanitation rating  

Littering/refuse collection  

Condition of buildings  

Trees, gardens and grass  


Local history/heritage highlights  


Recreation/play areas  

Creative arts groups 

iv Access and linkages, which includes  


Public transport  

Pedestrian and cycling activity  

Condition of roads and pavements  

Parking patterns  

Success in creating a good sense of place depends on bringing many different providers of  expertise and finance together to enable community volunteers to address one or more of  above factors in an action plan. 

“Action plans express the passions people have about their neighbourhood” 

3 Co-production  

Co-production as a system  

A Definitions of co-production  

“On a simple level, co-production is about involving people in the  delivery of public services, helping to change their relationship  with services from dependency to genuinely taking control.” –  Communities in Control, NHS Tayside Health Equity Strategy  

“Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and  reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services,  their families and their neighbours.” – New Economics Foundation  It recognises and aims to combine and strengthen different kinds of  knowledge and experience, changing the balance of power from the  professional towards the service user.” – Scottish Community  Development Centre  

“I dislike the term co-production…..but absolutely support the  concept. It is about involving people not only in the rowing and the  steering of the boat, but also in actually building it.” – Mr Sandy  Watson OBE DL, Chairman NHS Tayside  

“Co-production is the process of active dialogue and engagement  between people who use services, and those who provide them” – Sir  Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland  

“On a personal level it’s about learning to let go of my control, and  rely instead on my influence, as an equal partner, over the things  which affect the lives of other people.” – Dr Drew Walker, director  of Public Health, NHS Tayside  

‘For me it’s about combining our mutual strengths and capacities so  that we can work with one another on an equal basis to achieve  positive change’ – Fiona Garven, Director, SCDC  

‘…co-design involves many actors with different knowledge and backgrounds who  get together to improve on each other’s ideas and develop something new. In co design, we often use the term ‘rehearsing the future’,”  

B Co-production as a 3-step procedure  

Step 1 Social engagement to exchange ideas and values  

• Gaining insights of the community’s needs  

• Gaining insights of the community’s assets to meet the needs  

Step 2 Technical enablement to reach desired outcomes  

• Setting objectives as desired outcomes and making a plan to gather and  schedule assets to reach these outcomes  

• Review the actual outcomes against the desired outcomes  

Step 3 Modify the plan if necessary  

 4 The LEAP for Wales action plan logic  

LEAP stands for ‘learning, evaluation and planning’, which is the title of a community  framework document designed by the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) to  support a partnership approach to achieving change and improvement in the quality of  community life (Fig 2).  

‘LEAP for Wales’ is a development of the Scottish initiative as a community  planning/recording procedure, which incorporates the feedback logic of the conservation  management system (CMS) software, used by UK Environment Agencies and Wildlife Trusts  to produce conservation management plans for nature sites. Making a community LEAP for  Wales is based on answering the following seven questions (Fig 3).  

1 What are the issues that bug the community?  

(Identifying the need)  

2 What does the community want to see happen?  

(Setting the vision and the specific objectives)  

3 What are the barriers preventing the community getting where it wants to be?  (Determining the limiting factors of the objectives)  

4 How will the team know when they have overcome the barriers?  

(Setting measurable outcomes as performance indicators)  

5 What work has to be done?  

(Scheduling resources and actions)  

6 What progress is being made?  

(Monitoring by measurement of outcome performance indicators)  

7 Who needs to know the outcomes?  

(Feedback reports to the team, partners and funders)  

The SCDC says their LEAP framework should be useful to community organisations; local  authorities; voluntary sector organisations; and policy makers, particularly those involved in  community well being programmes, community planning partnerships, community  regeneration programmes, and social inclusion and social justice initiatives.  

• It encourages critical questioning to ensure that all those with a stake in taking action  for environmental improvements are working to a shared agenda.  

• The LEAP framework emphasises self-evaluation, encouraging participants to take  joint responsibility for planning and evaluation throughout a project or programme.  • It is a learning-based planning and evaluation framework to support good practice in  community working to improve the quality of community life.  

• It helps identify the difference a community hopes to make, to plan more effectively,  work in partnership with each other and other members of the community, and learn  the lessons from the experience.  

• The LEAP framework can be used in different contexts, to support the work of  different sectors, and at project, programme and policy level. It is particularly useful  as a tool to support partnership working and the production of community action  plans. 

Fig 2 The original LEAP logic diagram (2005)  

Fig 3 The LEAP for Wales logic diagram  

5 Networking for community action  

Plans can be made on paper, when a community sets out to answer the seven questions of the  CMS logic, but using software as a set of spreadsheets or a dedicated database-diary is better  for continuity and reporting. In a wider community context, conservation management is  equated with planning for sustainability in all aspects of community life. Every nook and  cranny of a neighbourhood becomes a distinctive place worthy of environmental surveillance  and a community action plan. A plan can be modelled on the preservation or enhancement of  the community’s core green heritage assets, no matter how small. The plan can then be  extended to include the management of other community assets/issues, such as health,  transport, security, energy use, tidiness, and opportunities for employment and recreation. In  this context the basic planning logic unifies action and recording across sectorial boundaries.  

When the UK strategy for sustainable development was first launched, the idea of a national  citizen’s environmental network was proposed. The aim was to unite people to share their  ideas and achievements in making and running community action plans for living sustainably.  It was envisaged that a ‘copycat network’ should be initiated and controlled at the community  level to ensure good ideas and practices are copied and multiplied. However, the idea as it  was originally proposed, did not materialise; the Internet was in its infancy and freely  available social networking software did not exist. 

An environmental network needs to have the following two features:  

(i) A system for social networking  

(ii) A freely accessible database for presenting the community’s planning process and its  current state of progress towards meeting outcomes of citizen-led environmental  improvements.  

The Internet is now available to accommodate these two features on line. The first  requirement is exemplified by text-based screen presentations such as ‘wikis’, blogs and  ‘conversational threads’; the second is illustrated by the ‘web viewer’ for presenting versions  of the databases that are used to record planning and its outcomes as a process, which can  both be interrogated on line by every member of the community.  

An Internet community consists of:  

• People, who act socially as they strive to satisfy their own needs or perform special roles,  such as leading or moderating;  

• A shared purpose, such as an interest, need, information exchange, or service that provides a  facility for the community;  

• Policies, in the form of tacit assumptions, rituals, protocols, rules, and laws that guide  people’s interactions;  

• Software systems, to support and mediate social interactions and facilitate a sense of  togetherness”  

These common activities help to create a sense of community by providing a common feeling  of identity, with which the members of the community can associate themselves. This growth  of trust between members of a community is an important factor in the success of an online 

community. The common factors that help shape the behaviour of community members  become practiced habits that help to construct the norms and identity of the community as a  whole. The strength of such a network is frequently perceived to impart a heightened vitality  to the community, and contributes to a strong sense of community identity.    

Social networking  

Social networking is the process of initiating, developing and maintaining friendships and  collegial or project sharing relationships for mutual benefit. Current discussions surrounding  social networking deal with web-based or technology-mediated tools, interactions, and related  phenomena, but social networking really takes place in many forms, including face to face. A  community that is active in strong in planning and acting grows through social networking, a  process in which the Internet is now a primary driver.  

Much technology-facilitated social networking is done in the form of person-to-person  exchanges that can be classified as question and answer, point and counterpoint,  announcement and support, action and feedback.  

Technologies that facilitate social networking tend to emphasize ease of use, spontaneity,  personalization, exchange of contacts, and low-end voyeurism. Some technologies that are  often considered social networking technologies may not be socially oriented in and of  themselves, but the communities that form around such technologies often demonstrate key  elements of social networking (for example, the discussion communities that form around  collaboratively authored wiki content).  

Online community networks are often developed and deployed to supplement residential face to-face communities in an effort to revitalise and grow neighbourhoods and to revive civic  engagement and local community identity in society. In this context, the ubiquity of the  Internet enables and encourages users to pursue ‘personalized networking’ which leads to the  emergence of private ‘portfolios of sociability’. ‘Proximity’ is the factor in on line residential  communities, which produces networked individualism. This gives online residential  communities a competitive advantage over dispersed online communities. Residential  networks allow residents to interact online and to continue developing online interaction  offline, in real life and face to face. This offline and place-based dimension introduces  challenges to the design, development and rollout of online community networks.  

Reaching a critical mass of users is considered to be the key criterion of success and has been  reported as one of the most common stumbling blocks: “If you build it, they will not  necessarily come”. However, other studies have shown that a critical mass of interconnected  users alone is not sufficient for a community network to live up to higher expectations, such  as increasing social capital in the community, fostering sociability and establishing  community identity. Those geographic communities already rich in social capital may  become richer thanks to community networks, and those communities poor in social capital  may remain poor, or simply put, connectivity does not ensure community. Something else  has to be done. The Internet neither destroys nor creates social capital, people do, and the  Internet will not automatically offset the decline in more conventional forms of social capital,  but it has that potential. 

Some examples of popular social networking technologies include:  

• asynchronous discussions via discussion boards or newsgroups  

• instant messaging, e.g. MSN, AIM, and ICQ  

• text-messaging or SMS  

• message logging and sharing, such as Twitter 

• document sharing and controlled collaborative authoring, such as Zoho or Google  Docs & Spreadsheets  

• loosely structured collaborative authoring and information sharing, such as wikis.  • photo sharing, such as Flickr and Picasa  

• video sharing, such as YouTube  

• blogs (life-sharing, news analysis, and editorialising)  

• online communities, such as Nings, Facebook, etc.  

• Second Life – sort of a combination of many of the above communication and  collaborative tools. 

Electronic networks may help support human networks and combat social exclusion provided  there is sufficient access and support. Experience shows that most communities start as small  emergent clusters organized around common interests or goals. Usually these clusters are  isolated from each other. They are very small groups of 1-5 people or organizations that have  connected out of necessity. Many of these small clusters are found in under-developed  communities. If these clusters do not organize further, the community structure remains weak  and under-producing. Without an active leader who takes responsibility for building a  network spontaneous connections between groups emerge very slowly, or not all. This  network leadership role is known as a network weaver. Instead of allowing these small  clusters to drift in the hope of making a lucky connection, the weaver actively creates new  interactions between the clusters. Through this activity useful community structures emerge.  This process is not easy to start, to maintain and to spread.  

Spreading know how, good ideas and achievements is vital so that a community knows where  it stands. This requires groups coming together in geographical nodes, which then make  connections with other nodes. Nodes can appear and coalesce in community facilities, such  as churches and heritage centres. Establishing nodes is also vital for bringing new  communities on board and to provide local training in the planning logic and how to use  software. It was to serve these purposes that the ecomuseum emerged as an idea to promote  the establishment of self-sustaining citizen’s environmental networks. 

“The greatest limiting factor in setting up a regional citizen’s environmental  

network is to establish local training centres”.

6 Neighbourhood ecomuseums  

Introduced by the French museologist Hugues de Varine in 1971, the word ecomuseum is  used to define a very special kind of museum based on an agreement by which a local  community takes care of a place (M.Maggi, 2002, Ecomusei. Guida europea, Torino-Londra Venezia, Umberto Allemandi & C.), where:  

• agreement, means a long term commitment, not necessarily an obligation by the law;  • local community, means a local authority and a local population jointly;  • take care, means that some ethical commitment and a vision for a future kind of local  development are needed;  

• place, means not just a surface but complex layers of cultural, social, environmental  values, which define a unique local heritage.  

According to “Declaration of Intent of the Long Net Workshop, Trento (Italy), May 2004” an  Ecomuseum is a dynamic way in which communities preserve, interpret, and manage their  heritage for a sustainable development.  

A ‘dynamic way’ means to go beyond the formal aspect of a museum, and beyond a simple  set course, designed on paper. It is about designing real actions, able to change society and  improve the landscape.  

Community means a group with:  

• general involvement;  

• shared responsibilities;  

• interchangeable roles: where public officers, representatives, volunteers and other  local actors are all playing a vital role in an ecomuseum.  

Ecomuseums are more properly defined by what they do rather than by what they are. Interest  in ecomuseums is growing all the time. Museums of this type are now springing up all over  Europe. Over 80% of such initiatives saw the light in the last 30 years, and the phenomenon  multiplied notably in the 1980s. After the Second World War, the entire landscape and the  economy of European countries had been turned upside down: factories closed,  unemployment reached new levels, trades disappeared, traditions, customs and modes of life  were wiped out. It is during this period of rapid transformation that the concept of the  “Ecomuseum” came to life; partly to protect some of this complex heritage and also as a tool  to help the concerned populations that gave a meaning to this heritage. Examples of abound in  Europe and notably in France around the industrial parks of Eastern and Northern France that  had been abandoned during the early 20th century.  

The basic tasks of the ecomuseum do not differ from those of traditional museums and  heritage centres to collect, document, study, conserve and communicate a given heritage.  However, “new” museums differ from conventional museums in that they ascribe utilitarian  value to the tasks of preservation and connect the work to non-museum aims, such as the  presentation of ideas to promote living sustainably.  

The area for the ecomuseum is referred to as a discrete territory, which can be a parish or  electoral ward, or a region consisting of a group of these communities networked to a regional  node, which could be a conventional museum (Fig 4). In the context of LEAP, the  ecomuseum is could be seen as a virtual on-line entity using social networking software to  present and explain its exhibits, in the form of pictures, videos, audio files and text  documents.  

Fig 4 Necklace models of ecomuseums  

“To connect is to be human” 

7 An integrated model of localism  

Organisations of all sizes suffer from the consequences of internal functional barriers. This is  a major pain point in government because because most major strategies require support from  many different support groups. In order to break down these silos, each functional group and  

the individuals within it must understand how they fit into the core functions of bigger  strategic frameworks. The problem is variously termed as Silo Thinking, Silo Vision, Silo  Mentality or the Silo Effect. This is evident when departments, teams or staff, who may be  high performers individually, fail to choreograph their activities to deliver their resources  required to integrate with the inputs from others. This symptom is so widespread that it is  often accepted as an inevitable problem within all organisations. Except that it is not  inevitable. The problem with organizations that are trapped in this siloed mentality is that  employees rarely study how their function relates to the inputs of others.  

Silo thinking of this kind can only be overcome by all providers working to a common  systems model, which for community development is described as a community resource  map. The map defines the connections between stakeholders and those in support. It shows  the alignment and deployment of the resources from a particular agency or department  towards a clear set of objectives, with accountability for the efficiency and effectiveness of  their application. Managers will then take responsibility for defining clearly what has to be  achieved for their group to secure its successful integration into the mission.  

Community resource mapping is a strategy for promoting inter-agency collaboration by better  have access to a broad, comprehensive, and integrated system of services essential in  achieving desired outcomes defined by the stakeholders. Community resource mapping can  be used to improve education, workforce development, and economic development in a  community by aligning available services and resources, streamlining those services and  resources, and identifying areas of need. The idea of resource mapping builds on the  community’s strengths by increasing the frequency, duration, intensity, and quality of  services and supports in the community. It is a route map to organize information and give  direction to meet a common community goal. As a result of resource mapping, people have  more flexibility and choice in navigating the system, whether they be providers or  stakeholders.  

Community resource mapping is particularly important as a strategy for improving outcomes  for communities with complex and varied needs. When collectively pooled, resources for  such communities can create a synergy that produces services well beyond the scope of what  any single provider can hope to mobilize. The alignment of resources, streamlining of  resources, and identification of service gaps within the community enables educators and  service providers to (a) understand the full range of services available to different members  within a community, (b) more efficiently provide the specific supports needed by each, and  (c) develop new services and supports targeted to fill existing gaps.  

An example of a community resource map is presented in Fig 4. It is a system designed to  funnel services from departments within the Welsh government, local government and partner  agencies, so that national community development strategies can be more effectively  integrated into communities who are making action plans to increase their well being. It was  outlined at the ‘Environmental Event’ held in Cardiff, in May 2012 and was later developed  into the ‘cynefin’ system for promoting place-based community action plans.

Fig 5 Community resource map for integrating top-down support for bottom-up needs 

“Everyone is a piece in the community jigsaw” 

Networking Nature With Postcards

Monday, July 4th, 2022


1  Introduction

Wales has many firsts in environmental education and a postcard educational database was invented by Welsh teachers in the late 1990s as “Postcards for Our Planet” (POP).  This was a pre INTERNET communication system linking schools in Wales and Portugal.  The objective was to model a global democracy of youth to access leaders with young people’s ideas and concerns about how to ‘rescue’ planet Earth.  It was a postcard version of the citizen’s environmental network proposed in the first UK strategy for sustainable development. The idea was to help young people identify the good and bad things about where they live, then work to improve the bad things and share their ideas, achievements and experiences globally with handmade postcards.

‘Networking Nature With Postcards’ (NNP) began in the 2010s as a microlearning scheme linking primary and secondary schools in Wales with their European counterparts.    NNP revisits POP.  It is a model in environmental education to encourage people to have empathy for the conservation of wildlife.   This is achieved by individuals telling stories about the environment by combining sight-sized data in pictures, with text to make bite-sized  topics of knowledge that can be assembled into the meal-sized subject of conservation management  (Fig 1).

Fig 1 Making a meal of data and knowledge

In IT, symbols, characters, images, or numbers are data. These are the inputs an IT system needs to process in order to produce a meaningful interpretation. Data in and of itself is not useful until human intelligence is applied to convert it to knowledge through the identification of patterns and trends, relationships, assumptions, and relevance. In other words, data in a meaningful form becomes knowledge.

Generally speaking, bite-sized e-learning modules are small, self-contained pockets of knowledge, usually defined as topics. They are shared  with  other topic-makers in a microlearning environment; i.e. a classroom or on line.  They typically range in duration from 1 to 15 minutes and are usually focused on one or two tightly defined learning objectives. Here are a few examples.  

We are now in the where visual content plays a big role in every part of life. It is estimated that 65 percent of the population are visual learners, so graphics are key to engaging students in eLearning courses. Sight-sized visuals summarize content in smaller, and easier to process chunks, and when the right visuals are selected to make a bite-sized knowledge nugget, they offer more comprehensibility than text-based explanations or stand alone audios. Also, students effortlessly relate emotions with visuals, which make eLearning courses based on pictures more impactful and memorable than only using text.

 Between 1875 and the 1940s, cigarette companies often included collectible cards with their packages of cigarettes. Cigarette cards (fag cards) are one of the earliest examples of bite-sized knowledge nuggets in a system of mass production. The BKNs are small trading cards issued by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands.  Regarding their use as educational materials one side contains the visual representation of what the card is about. The reverse side of the card would have a short description of the subject of the card.  Albums could be bought to hold collections of cards relating to different topics (Fig 2).

Fig 2 . An album of 50 fish species found in the coastal waters of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, issued by John Player and Sons

All kinds of BKNs can support classroom and distance learning about how to live sustainably.  The differences between them are the systems of delivery.  In this context, BKNs can be assembled as narratives to engage practically with the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals.  These put nature first in all that we do and orientate civilization toward non material ends.  In terms of pedagogy, BKN’s can be thought of as the basis for new life skills packages for teaching ecocacy.  Ecosacy defines the relationships between culture and ecolog to be taught alongside literacy and numeracy, for people to prosper within an overcrowded planet. In the new Welsh humanistic syllabus of hope, life skills are essentially those abilities that help promote mental well-being and competence in young people as they face the realities of life. 

2 Postcards and other knowledge nuggets

(i) Postcards  

A postcard holds tangible memories with pictures and words to amuse and delight.  ‘Networking Nature With Postcards’ is a hybrid analogue/digital version of classical postcarding. It is part of a social platform that utilizes the mailing, networking technology of the 21st century to preserve the old-fashion handwritten bought postcard, but illustrating it with a unique handcrafted personalised image. These postcard pictures aren’t squashed versions of bigger, bolder artworks and photographs, like Twitter and Instagram. They are public works of art and you can display the pictures you make in your own gallery.  Also, postcards are valued because we can hold them and look at them over and over without the need to open a computer screen to search and scroll. It is Instagram and Twitter in one and every bit as lovely and keepable as the art we frame and hang on walls.  On the other hand, any kind of picture/text on screen package is a powerful tool for classroom learning and communicating between classrooms, particularly where it brings art and science together, to apply arts reasoning to express sustainability.

As an individual sending and receiving postcards all you have to do is to compose an information package, consisting of a picture and some text, to make a postcard and send it to the recipients saying how nature makes you feel, why you enjoy nature and what you are doing locally to put nature first in all that you do.  As a teacher you can make nature postcards as a classroom exercise and post and receive cards from other classes on behalf of your class. Initiating or joining a topic forum allows ideas and achievements to be presented for discussion and development by attaching a picture/text package to a post.  

(ii) Tweets

Digital platforms for making knowledge nuggets are exemplified by Twitter.  Twitter is a really a microblogging platform that allows individuals to communicate by sending short messages of up to 280 characters. Although it enables people to be in constant contact, its value in an educational context is less clear.  Twitter as an educational tool is able to open up totally new worlds for students and allows Tweeters to collaborate and participate in meaningful hashtag chats..  The advice given today by Twitter to increase your reach as a twitterer is to ‘add a picture; people like pictures!’.  Additional information is accessed through an URL link.  An entire suite of Tweets is extractable using #-tagged filters. Feedback is available using ‘Twitter Analytics’, which displays day by day  ‘impressions’ and ‘engagements’ for each Tweet. An ‘impression’ is a Tweet that has been delivered to the Twitter stream of a particular account.  An ‘engagement’ could be a click to a landing page, a reply to a Tweet, or a comment on a Facebook post. Either way, the record of an engagement means that someone has the Tweeter’s attention and they have become engaged in a positive way. In Twitter-speak, a ‘Moment’ is a set of Tweets curated in a sequence that tells a  story. It is a personal linear narrative; a mind map incorporating the personal Tweets of its maker. It can also include other people’s Tweets. ‘Moments’ have their own URLs and can be shared and developed with others.

To summarise, Tweets are sight-sized pieces of information that are turned into a body of knowledge when they are packaged as a Moment.  Here is an example of two year’s tweeting on the topic of Climate Change.

(iii) Flashcards

Making flashcards in a classroom is akin to making postcards. The former can be considered as virtual postcards because the act of making flashcards is a way to “work” the information of picture and text,, challenging students to think about which picture to have on one side and the related description on the other.   Like postcards, flashcards can be swapped between classes to establish a network.

Flashcards are small note cards used for bite size information retrieval which can then be used for improving memory through practiced information retrieval. Flashcards are typically two-sided, with the prompt on one side and the information about the prompt on the other. This may include names, vocabulary, concepts, or procedures.  A flashcard is the ideal medium for a visual learner, because it presents the essence of an idea or concept in a clear and precise image. Whether a flashcard contains text, pictures, or a combination of the two, it is in an ideal format for visual learners.

4 The System

This picture/text system is being assembled and tested in a school context to network classrooms in Wales to support the new humanities-centered  Welsh curriculum. 

The system (Figs 3 & 4) consists of three components;

  • a geographic mother hub, which is a place that exemplifies conservation management in action;
  • a technical hub which provides the facility for sending, receiving, saving and displaying postcards or other kinds of BKNs;
  • a topic forum which stores knowledge and records discussion about a topic in environmental education;   

To begin, a teacher should have:

  • a topic to discuss; warming
  •  a fact to present; e.g. national ecological footprints
  •  an opinion to state; e.g. syllabus development
  •  a request to make; e.g. please send information about….
  •  a destination to reach; e.g. an individual or an organisation;
  •  a technical hub as a collection of resources to facilitate the project e.g. a social medium;
  •  and a geographical hub as a place to refer to that exemplifies conservation management in action; e.g. a designated nature site.  

The rationale for exchanging BKNs involves the seamless integration of the process of making and sending them with the Geographic Mother Hub and the Technical Hub (Figs 3 ). 

Fig 3 Networking nature with postcards: the basics.

Fig 4 Relationships of topics with the mother hub

Fig 5  The complete system

The mother hub, which if the hub is a nature reserve is called a nature hub, is the source of ideas and information to distill into BKNs as distinct packages of knowledge about how the reserve functions as a managed ecosystem .  In this connection, animals protected in a hub can be said to be the watchers of the world, the gatekeepers of the environment.  Animal BKNs are the prime messengers of the state of the ecosystem and its management backed up with a library of copyright free digital resources.. 

5 The History

In its promotion of Networking Nature with Postcards the sponsors are revisiting the young people’s syllabus of hope produced by an international youth group immediatley  after the Rio 1992 environment summit.  The Schools in Communities Agenda 21 Network (SCAN) was a spin off from this in Wales, where it was funded by Texaco, the Countryside Council for Wales and Dyfed County Council. SCAN now exists as three Google Sites, ( nowSCANRescue Mission Planet Wales and Skomer Island).  SCAN also led to the schools phenology network managed by the National Museum in Cardiff, SCAN Spring Bulbs For Schools.

Appendix  1

Puffins and Pandas

1 History

In 2020 a wildlife competition, The Puffin Prize, was sponsored by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) & International Classrooms On Line (ICOL). The organizers of the competition were trying to understand why young people enjoy nature. What do they find interesting and exciting and what would encourage them to explore further, to spend more time with nature?

All that the entrants had to do was to share one of their favourite experiences of nature. It could be a visit to a nature reserve, or a walk through an urban woodland, a hedgerow or a field full of flowers.  The nature experience could be submitted as an art poster, an essay, a poem, a picture or a combination of any of these

The hope was that the submissions would signify why the applicants enjoyed nature, what they find interesting or exciting and what makes them want to get close to wildlife.  Perhaps they would come up with ideas that would make it easier for them  to explore the countryside and its wildlife.

2 ‘Puffins And Pandas’

‘Puffins And Pandas’ is a new project that developed from reflections on the responses to the Puffin Prize’.  In particular, feedback pointed towards the need to boost the use of IT networking for people to engage seamlessly with environmental issues by creating digital stories about  nature conservation.  Inspired by the blogs ‘Kate On Conservation, and Nerworking Nature With Postcards, ‘Puffins And Pandas is a group of bloggers, each using Google Blogger to create a personal informational website for sharing discrete diary-posts about ideas and issues of managing Earth for wildlife conservation.  

To take this viewpoint brings nature writing into focus. Because of developments in IT, illustrated digital stories are now both easy to produce and simple to publish and are an ideal way to energize learning and engage people of all ages in blogging at a deeper level. Digital storytelling creates space for individuals to pursue personalized topics about which they are passionate.  It grows their learning around assigned topics, and showcases their learning for peers, teachers, and audiences beyond school, all of whom are able to network with the storytellers.

Puffins and Pandas are the world’s most well known animals and they are universally recognised as being charismatic symbols of nature conservation.  They are beautiful, endangered, and loved.  Like the Giant Panda, Puffins carry messages of hope that humanity will eventually put nature first in all that we do before it is too late.  

Oliver Prince, Puffineer in the UK Puffin Project says: “Puffins are lovely and remarkable birds. They have so much character with their handsome appearance, their behaviour around burrows, the lovely noises they make and the astonishing effort they go to feed their young pufflings!”  

Puffins are wild animals that are easy to anthropomorphise so they can bridge the communications gap between humans and the wild and free.  In particular,  they can spark interest in addressing climate change, reducing and cleaning up plastic waste, and other human-caused challenges that threaten their existence.  In this sense we can have conversations about nature conservation on behalf of puffins..

‘Puffins and Pandas’ is a conceptual vehicle to allow the power of storytelling to blossom in learning spaces.  The nature hub, is the small Welsh island of Skomer.  The technical hub is Google Classroom, and/or Google Blogger

To help these conversations along two flipbooks are available as copyright free resources, ‘The Atlantic Puffin’, provides a detailed study of the natural history of puffins.on Skomer  The book is illustrated with over 70 colour photographs of puffins showing fascinating pioneering shots of them  both underwater and underground.  The other flip book, ‘Skomer Island’, is the readable report of the first field survey of the island carried out in 1946.  

‘Puffins And Pandas’ is not a competition. The aim is to encourage Micro-learning, which involves learning in small steps. School activities based on micro-learning usually feature short-term lessons, projects, or coursework that is designed to provide the student with ‘bits’ of information. For example, rather than trying to create a broad subject all at once, aspects of the subject are broken down into smaller pieces of data and reassembled as personalised topics, thus recycling eye-sized information into knowledge and networking it via the Internet.  

The copyright free digital resources to help people along are:-

The Puffin Hyperook- a flip book

Island of Sustainability– a Google Site

Skomer Island- report of the first field survey-a flip book.

S.K.O.M.E.R. – a mindmap of cultural ecology

Natural History of Selborne- a Gutenberg Press online ebook

Educating for change- a free forum

One Small Wilderness- a personal mind map of a special place

To participate all you have to join the coll;ective do is create a free account with Google Blogger, create your very own Blogger and send its Internet address to

It will be added to a list of blogs that will be made public with the understanding that the collective will be self sustainable.

Go to a Google Blogger version of this blog

Applied Zooetics

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

An Online Customisable Syllabus Of Radical Hope

1 Zooetics

Zoe and bios both mean life in Greek, but they are not synonymous.  Zoe… refers to life in general, without characterization. Bios characterizes a specific life, the outlines that distinguish one living thing from another. Bios is the Greek root for ‘biography,’ zoe for ‘zoology.

Zooetic, or zoetic, means living or vital. It is in use today to address the paradigm shift in science, culture and society expressed in the concept  of the Anthropocene.  The Anthropocene Project is a multidisciplinary body of work combining fine art photography, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research to investigate human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of Earth.  It is a quest  to explore new ways of engaging human knowledge and research for humankind to exist along with the rights and freedoms of other forms of life and to imagine designs, prototypes and interfaces to apply artistic reasoning for the conservation management of future interspecies ecosystems. 

Applied Zooetics can be understood as “Framing the Anthropocene in Art”.  Once an impaired ecological interface of the transition/contact zone between humans and ‘nature’ is framed as art, a work of art emerges. The process never leaves the viewer unaffected  Understandings of the meeting place and its cultural value are consolidated and expressed in love, respect and care.

In his book, The Silent Earth, Dave Goulson, writing about the cultural value of insects says:

“For me, the economic value of insects is just a tool with which to bash politicians over the head. They only seem to value money, so I point out to them that insects contribute to the economy. But if I’m honest, their economic worth has nothing whatsoever to do with why I try to champion their cause. I do it because I think they are wonderful. The sight of the first brimstone butterfly of the year, a flash of golden yellow wings in my garden on the first warm day in late winter, brings joy to my heart. Similarly, the chirrup of bush crickets on a summer’s eve, or the sound of clumsy bumble-bees buzzing among the flowers, or the sight of a painted lady butterfly basking in the spring sunshine after her long migration from the Mediterranean — they all soothe my soul. I cannot imagine how desolate the world would be without them. These little marvels remind me what a wonderful and fascinating world we have inherited. Are we really willing to condemn our grandchildren to live in a world where such delights are denied them?”

A special feature of zooetics is that the concept engages with shifts in contemporary understandings of nature by applying arts reasoning to express sustainability.  Works of art are not merely representations of the way things are seen but function to reveal and evolve a community’s shared understanding of its environment. Each time a new artwork is added to any culture, the meaning of what it is to exist in that culture is inherently changed.  From this point of view all art is ecological.  While borders draw divisive lines, frontiers are ecosystem transitions and contact zones.  Diversity is always richest in areas where different ecosystems meet: This is the edge effect which attracts artists. 

An example of applied zooetics is the pioneering project launched in 2016 by the UK National Trust and the GoldenTree production company to express the impact of coastal erosion on the loss of landscape heritage along the Cornish Coast.  It demonstrates the application of arts reasoning to express a complex system of conservation management  Five artists worked at three different harbours and beaches that are protected by the National Trust – Penberth, Mullion Cove (Fig 1) and Godrevy. Each artist’s residency produced a performance or installation that became part of a program of public activities during the final weekend of October. It costs the National Trust around £3,000 per mile along the coast to care and maintain these outstanding coastal areas for the benefit of people and wildlife. It is thanks to membership, donations and volunteers that the charity is able to attempt this. Their message to the public was; complete protection is desirable, but beyond their financial resources. They are in retreat.

Fig 1  Mullion Cove

The objective was to offer people a chance to experience the outdoors in a different way, beginning with art, to deepen their understanding and value of the science of care and conservation that goes into preserving the outdoors and the future these coastlines might have.  

Introducing the project, Ian Marsh, general manager for West Cornwall said: “The National Trust’s core purpose as a charity is to look after special places for ever, for everyone. But under the influence of the sea many places along the Cornish coast are crumbling, shifting and falling away and we need to be able to understand this and respond to the challenges this poses to us”.

“With climate change and rising sea-levels the issues of erosion are becoming increasingly stringent. Perpetually reinforcing harbour walls and cliff faces has proven to be unsustainable. So, as part of caring for a place we sometimes have to let nature take its course. As part of this process we have commissioned GoldenTree to start communicating with local communities, exploring the changes we can expect to see in the long-term.

Penberth Cove saw the creation of a film by renowned Cornish filmmaker Mark Jenkin and Interviews with local people. Images of the cove were captured on a clockwork camera, and the black and white film was hand-processed and set to an original soundtrack by a local musician, Rick Williams.

At Mullion Cove performance-maker Louise Ann Wilson  transposed ideas of palliative care of people onto this ‘dying’ harbour. Learning from a palliative nurse and engaging local residents by creating ‘rituals of retreat’, she created a walking performance.  Called Mulliontide,  it was based on a walk from Poldhu Cove to Mullion Cove that focused on a much-loved landscape and explored the places where land, sea and people met. The performance noticed the effects of tide and time, acknowledged deep feelings for place and recognised the challenges of change – personal and topographical. Mulliontide was created by Wilson in collaboration with residents of Mullion who also performed the work. Moving from station to station along the coastal path, the performance invited participants to notice specific landscape features and layered them with memories, photos, songs and actions in order to think about belonging, loss and repair.  

At Godrevy, Dutch artist Titia Bouwmeester made a work that responded to and worked with the tide and sea. For more than a month Bouwmeester filmed the coastal landscape of Godrevy, capturing how the tide drew patterns on the beach, the daily choreography of hikers, surfers and farmers and the moon’s arc across the sky. Monumental projections were screened in the closed setting of a barn where 24 hours became 24 minutes. The audience witnessed how the landscape changed from dawn till dusk. A specially composed soundtrack completed the cinematic experience, immersing the audience in a hypnotic flow of image and music.

The natural environment is under pressure, and the thinking behind Mulliontide was that artists would be able to tell these stories and the story of the Trust’s part in sustainable conservation care, that will bring a new experience and understanding to people who visit these places. All events became part of a three-day programme, subtitled ‘Miss You Already’ assembled, around the theme of coastal change. People were able to visit the installation at Godrevy and join the performance at Mullion, enjoying the artwork and reflect on questions such as what is the best way to retreat? What will we lose when? What does change look like exactly? How can one reduce the pain that comes with losing something that is loved?  The message was that the intellectual content of art is altogether different from the intellectual content of science.  

Addressing the problem of defining art and science the 19th century the zoologist Thomas Henry Huxley said   “The subjects of all knowledge are divisible into the two groups, matters of science and matters of art; for all things with which the reasoning faculty alone is occupied, come under the province of science, all things which stir our emotions, come under the term of art.”

However, the pleasures one receives from the application of either art or science, have a common source. These pleasures arise from the satisfaction received in tracing the central theme of whatever a person is interested in at the moment in all its endless variations.  They demonstrate the truth of unity in variety. The process of comprehending the symbols used to express an idea of the moment is both intellectual and aesthetic.  It is intellectual because it is the mental picture which comprehends the laws governing any particular science or art; and it is esthetic because it is the feelings which determine the amount of emotional pleasure one can derive from them. But the ends are different. Scientific reasoning has as its end in the attainment of truth. Artistic reasoning has for its end the attainment of pleasure. 

2  Education  in the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene (Fig 2) is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of the significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, human induced climate change.

Fig 2 A landscape of the Anthropocene

The UNESCO publication ‘Rethinking Education Towards A Global Common Good (2015), asks three questions relevant to education in the Anthropocene.  What education do we need?   What is the purpose of education in the current context of societal transformation? How should learning be organized?

UNESCO’s answers are :

Question 1  Education should  be  constructed  on  four pillars: 

  • learning to know, 
  • learning to do; 
  • learning to be 
  • and learning to  live  together.  

The belief is that giving  equal  attention  to  each  of  these  four  pillars will ultimately enrich all the facets of education, including those that are more narrowly professional.

Question 2  The one continuing purpose of education, since ancient times, has been to bring people to as full a realization as possible of what it is to be human. Other statements of educational purpose have also been widely accepted, namely: 

  • to develop the intellect;
  • to serve social needs;
  • to contribute to the economy;
  • to create an effective work force;
  •  to prepare students for a job or career;
  •  to promote a particular social or political system. 

The broader humanistic purpose of education includes all of the above to encompass every dimension of human experience and take every opportunity in curricula to connect with the targets of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy

Question 3  Let students lead the learning because learning takes place best in environments where students feel empowered to learn. Effective teachers are more like moderators/mentors, offering inspiration and guiding students to discover for themselves. Giving students the opportunity to be self-learners guarantees lifelong learning.

Question 4  Create an inquiry-based classroom environment.  If students are to lead the way to learning, they need to be able to ask questions – and then find the means to answer them. Students (and teachers) need to “wonder out loud” as they reflect on their learning, answering questions such as What do you Know? What do you Want to know? What have you Learned?, which can guide students toward true self-motivated learning.  

Question 5  Encourage collaboration because we are greater than the sum of our parts. An effective classroom is a sharing classroom. Students are social beings.  Find every opportunity to allow students to form pairs and small groups. Not only does this encourage the development of speaking and listening skills, but it also teaches students how to effectively achieve goals together.

Fig 3 Curriculum development in the Anthropocene

At a basic level, the pedagogy for curriculum development in the Anthropocene is founded on assembling and distributing authored information packages (AIPs), each consisting of a picture/graphic with a legend, which can be assembled as zooetic mind maps about how to live sustainably (Fig 3).    An IT slideshow is a collection of virtual AIPs.  A ‘flash card’, a ‘tweet’ and a postcard are also AIPs. They can all be traced back to Orbis Pictus, or Orbis Sensualium Pictus (Visible World in Pictures), a book for children written by Moravian-German educator John Amos Comenius and published in 1658. It was the first widely used children’s textbook with pictures, published first in Latin and German and later republished in many European languages. The revolutionary book quickly spread around Europe and became the defining children’s textbook, imparting life skills, for centuries.  

All kinds of AIPs can support classroom and distance learning about how to live sustainably.  The differences between them are the systems of delivery.  In this context, AIPs can be assembled as narratives delineating learning pathways to engage practically with the United Nation’s 2030 sustainable development strategy.  This puts nature first in all that we do and and orientates civilization toward non material ends.  It is a new  life skills  package of ecocacy,  to be taught alongside literacy and numeracy for people to prosper within an overcrowded planet. Life skills are essentially those abilities that help promote mental well-being and competence in young people as they face the realities of life.  

Most development professionals agree that life skills are generally applied in the context of health and social events. They can be utilized in many content areas: prevention of drug use, sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS prevention and suicide prevention. The definition extends into consumer education, environmental education, peace education or education for development, livelihood and income generation, among others. In short, life skills empower young people to take positive action to protect themselves and promote health and positive social relationships across cultural divides. 

William Ophuls calls the picture/graphic a ‘pattern’ and a collection of AIPs is a mind map delivering knowledge in ‘pattern language’.   A pattern language is needed  to make ecology the master science of our age.  We need to stop thinking of ourselves as somehow above or outside the natural systems that support us.

3  Hope, ecology and art

In 2016, Amy Franceschini was shortlisted in the Artes Mundi competition at the National Museum and Galleries of Wales.  She traveled to Cardiff from Oslo by boat, retracing the migratory journey of seeds, to explore the politics of food production and the countries that our foods originate from. Her legacy was the idea that an art installation can apply arts thinking to explain sustainability. In Wales it led to the formation of the S.K.O.M.E.R Collective, linking art with science to demonstrate sustainability knowledge organised to manage environments responsibly.  Inspired by Futurefarmers and the Flatbread Society the S.K.O.M.E.R Collective is centred on a free forum entitled ‘Educating for Change’ allowing people to freely participate in creating a syllabus of radical hope .The knowledge framework is cultural ecology,  an interdisciplinary, social concept (blog).  It contrasts the old sustainable relations of people to the land with the present-day worldwide scramble for scarce natural resources and the global environmental damage of unsustainable mass production. These days, everyone has their own mind map of cultural ecology. These personal projects, under the acronym S.K.O.M.E.R, chart the behavioural changes required to manage the flows of materials and ideas between people, ecosystems and place for a smooth social continuity of belonging between generations. Skomer is also a small Welsh island nature reserve where ideas of syllabus reform first emerged in the 1950s and eventually led to UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme

In early July 2017, the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, together with University of Texas, Austin hosted a two-day workshop on “Radical Hope.”  It brought together 21 people from a variety of continents and disciplinary perspectives to explore and exchange ideas on ‘hope’ as a renewable and essential educational resource in an age of change.. Their proposition put to an abused world was that it…..”is hope, above all, that gives us strength to live and to continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.  In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily, without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope”.  

Ultimately we cannot rely solely on a science-dominated syllabus to provide intellectual content for human survival. In science, intellectual content is truth to fact and the deductions and generalizations which can be made from facts. Science has little to say about meaning, love and hope.  The intellectual content of art is truth to nature. But this truth is relative for it depends entirely upon the intellectual culture of the artist and the person to whom art is addressed. A syllabus of hope for life post 2030 requires a flexible curriculum that integrates art and science, alias culture and ecology, in equal measure.

Fig 4  Reflecting and developing empathetic practices in a post fossil fuel world

Four years before the  radical hope workshop, ‘Frontiers in Retreat’ (Fig 4) had begun as a five-year long collaborative inquiry, funded by the European Commission, into the educational  intersections of art and ecology.  It was a collaborative enquiry involving 25 artists working between nations’ frontiers and network of arts residencies.  Their aim was to generate an understanding of the connections between local ecological concerns and processes of global warming. The proposition was that ecological concerns cannot be considered as purely environmental concerns, but should be understood as complex problems that transgress the borders/frontiers of disciplines and nations. The assumption was that artists uniquely have an innate ability to develop modes of knowledge for the understanding of complex co-dependencies between ecological, social, economic, and political phenomena. This ability to cross frontiers between long established subject disciplines is required in general for humankind to adapt to climate change, harnessing the richness in artistic reasoning as a critical form of engagement with people, places and change.  Indeed, we might hope to find the three activities‒art, science, politics‒triangulated in a syllabus of radical hope through our lives.”

In this context, Ann P. Kahn, Former President of The National PTA, wrote, “The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children the opportunity to see life with a larger perspective… The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts.”  Furthermore, Shawn Ginwright, an national international expert on youth development, has pinpointed the crucial role of hope and healing in achieving positive youth outcomes.  He says, “Youth development and civic engagement strategies designed to engage America’s most disconnected young people will only be successful to the extent that they address hopelessness and create opportunities to heal from socially toxic environments and structural violence. Success is dependent upon healing from these issues.”

Arts education is uniquely effective at meeting this need because it is a natural source of healing, hope, imagination and agency.  Learning how to identify and creatively address the effects of psychological, physical, emotional and historical trauma is becoming a critical aspect of the work of art educators, both in and out of school.  Imagining, but also having a space to create, is essential to adapt to social change and understand civics. Community art-based educational programs that express sustainability sow the seeds of social change, progressive ideas, and a sustainable future.  Therefore, art instruction integrated with science provides more to communities than just the art itself: it is the key ingredient to a better world.  In this context, prosperity is gaining something that was hoped for and is not focussed on accumulating monetary wealth.

4 A provisional syllabus of radical hope

The world is changing rapidly at the speed of Arctic’s melting ice – education must also change to keep up with global warming. Societies everywhere are undergoing deep environmental transformation, and this calls for new forms of learning to foster the competencies that societies and economies need, today and tomorrow. This means moving beyond literacy and numeracy, to focus on ecosacy to gain competence or knowledge in conservation management of ecosystems and take new approaches to learning for greater justice, social equity and global solidarity. 

Education in the post 2030 Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary cross-disciplinary, intersectional, ecofeminist/posthumanist, indigenous, and participatory. Participatory approaches are needed because people have to learn to work together and live with climate change and the other local features of the environmental crises, as well as working across cultures and genders in addressing environmental issues.  In particular, any kind of syllabus has to be unified by the theory of evolution with its roots in human ecology.  The idea that human activities have launched Earth into a new geologic epoch is an attempt to encourage a deep view of the coevolution of life and planet, as well taking a long systemic view of the future, which requires calling for a fundamental rethinking of human-habitat relationships.

Broadly speaking a syllabus of radical hope is defined in relation to two biochemical categories of Earth’s life forms, autotrophs and heterotrophs, separated by the way in which they feed on carbon compounds (Fig 5). Autotrophs are organisms that synthesize their own carbonaceous food from carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis.  Heterotrophs are not capable of photosynthesis and so have to obtain food by eating autotrophs or other heterotrophs. All heterotrophs are animals, including humans, and all plants are autotrophs.  This is the modern biochemical knowledge framework for living sustainably.  It recognises human heterotrophy is a cultural adaptation that taps into Earth’s ecosystems, competing with other animals and plants for space. Humankind is winning the competition and  species extinction is now unfolding because of it.  We are witnessing the sixth such event of mass extinction in Earth’s history and humankind, which is just one among millions of “cousin species”, has initiated the die-off heralding the age of the Anthropocene.  To survive, humankind has to define and manage an interspecies democracy in solidarity with non-human “people”.  

Fig 5  Autotrophs and heterotrophs; humankind’s cousins

More and more we are hearing that we have to find new ways to become sustainable and the Anthropocene debate is behind one of the most ambitious global scientific programmes of the past two decades. The main argument is that, from a geological point of view, humans are considered the major force of nature, thus implying that our current geological epoch is dominated by human activity. New cross curricular knowledge frameworks that transcend 19th century single subject curricula are needed to help people find a meaningful life in decarbonised economies.  Education in the Anthropocene requires examples of participatory, collaborative approaches to cultural ecology for living with global warming.  Routes for out of school individualised learning are urgently needed now for people to cross cultures and genders, assembling their own personal body of knowledge, through lifelong learning, as they go.  Earth has already reached its first tipping points like the Antarctic glacier melt and each of us has to adopt a unique way to manage our way out of the crisis within the targets of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

 Wolfgang. Haber, reflecting in 2007 on economy and competition as general driving forces of human social evolution, framed the issue of human survival as follows:

“Energy, food and land are the principal, closely interrelated traps; but the absolutely decisive resource in question is land whose increasing scarcity is totally underrated. Land is needed for fulfilling growing food demands, for producing renewable energy in the post-fossil and post-nuclear era, for maintaining other ecosystem services, for urban-industrial uses, transport, material extraction, refuse deposition, but also for leisure, recreation, and nature conservation. All these needs compete for land, food and non-food biomass production moreover for good soils that are scarcer than ever. We are preoccupied with fighting climate change and loss of biodiversity; but these are minor problems we could adapt to, albeit painfully, and their solution will fail if we are caught in the interrelated traps of energy, food, and land scarcity. Land and soils, finite and irreproducible resources, are the key issues we have to devote our work to, based on careful ecological information, planning and design for proper uses and purposes.

Conservation management is the activity that binds planning and design to the targets of the 2030 Agenda.  A conservation management system (CMS) is simply a recording and filing tool that aids and improves the way in which heritage assets are managed and kept in a favourable condition (Fig 6).   Its prime function is to keep track of the inputs, outputs and outcomes of projects to meet measurable objectives. The aim is to promote efficient and effective operations, and allow recording of the work that was done and reporting on whether or not the objective was achieved. A CMS also enables the exchange of information about methods and achievements within and between organisations. These are essential components of a CMS of any scale, whether a national park, or a village pond.

Fig 6  The UK conservation management system: the planning cycle

5  Personalised learning

Twenty-first century students at all levels live in an interconnected, diverse and rapidly changing world. Emerging economic, digital, cultural, demographic and environmental forces are shaping young people’s lives globally, increasing their intercultural encounters on a daily basis. This complex environment presents an opportunity and a challenge. Young people today must not only learn to participate in a more interconnected world but also appreciate and benefit from cultural differences. Developing a global and intercultural outlook is a process – a lifelong process – that education can shape.  Also, education must now be about learning to live on a planet under pressure. It must be about cultural literacy, on the basis of respect and equal dignity, helping to weave together the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. This is a humanist vision of education as an essential common good inspired by the UNESCO Constitution, agreed 70 years ago.  Education is key to the global integrated framework of sustainable development goals. Education in environmental management is at the heart of our efforts both to adapt to change and to transform the world within which we live. Indeed, a quality basic education within the logic of environmental management is the necessary foundation for learning throughout life in a complex and rapidly changing world.  

David Greenwood, in 2014, voiced the question: “Are schools relevant to the complex realities of a changing planet? Or, do they mainly serve an outdated vision of an industrial society that is turning rapidly into a complex mix of decline and transformation?”  They are probably irrelevant with respect to the way they operate.  Technology, screens, devices and the internet have become almost ubiquitous in our lives, and that is as true for infants as it is for adults. Students feel comfortable interacting online with others and often see it as a similar experience to being in-person interaction. While it is impossible to recreate the entire in-person learning experience online, advances in technology and the comfort level of students and teachers in using these technologies make it more likely that online learning will continue to spread.

Changes in curricula are defined by the speed of internationalism.   New knowledge is being produced ever more rapidly year on year, and there is continuous pressure to turn that knowledge into new skills, new career paths, new business models and new lifestyles.  The big issue is that students are spending too much time in classes that will get them nowhere and not enough time in classes that will actually help them in life and their careers.  Personalized learning addresses the latter issue by tailoring pedagogy, syllabus, curriculum and learning environments to meet the needs and learning styles of individual learners. Personalization is broader than just individualization or differentiation in that it affords the learner a degree of choice about what is learned, when it is learned and how it is learned.  Therefore students should be able to choose their own classes because it would prepare them better for the real world. Students would have more motivation to learn and come to school if they were given the opportunity to choose their own classes instead of being required to take certain classes in order to graduate.  When students have the ability to choose what they would like to learn about, it makes them more eager to engage with the material.  To take a military metaphor, schooling prepare learners for the review rather than the battle.  In essence, personalized eLearning enables students to customize a variety of the knowledge elements involved in the online education process. This means that they are asked to set their own goals, go at their own pace, and communicate with instructors and other students to personalize the learning process. Ideally, the student is placed in charge of managing his/her own learning and is able to customize the experience by having a direct say in the processes and content that is being provided.  Mind mapping is vital to making a personal understanding.

The following five provisional pillars of an international democratic syllabus of radical hope were produced by a group of international students sponsored by International Classrooms On Line.  They can be customised by individuals to assemble personal pedagogies and curricula for lifelong learning to live sustainably (Fig 7).

Fig 7.   Mind map of a syllabus of hope


(i) In Wales, Personal and Social Education (PSE) is a school subject that helps children develop:

  • as individuals;
  • as members of families; 
  • as members communities.

(ii) PSE is the foundation and thread of a learning framework together with  ‘Rights and Freedoms’, Learning To Be Inclusive, ‘Managing Global Warming‘, the Application of Arts Reasoning to Express Sustainability. A Curriculum Relating to Environment and Sustainability

In order to obtain information on the variety of curricula that might emerge for individualised learning a polled forum was created which listed the following ten themes.

1 Become a citizen managing change

2 Redefine Economic Growth

3 Learn To Be Inclusive

4 Link Culture With Education (currently has the least hits)

5 Create New Knowledge Frameworks

6 Learn About Empathy

7 Promote Education For Change

8 Apply Arts Reasoning To Explain Sustainability (most hits)

9 Oats, Peas, Beans And Barley Grow

10 Awaken the Ecologist Within

6  Internet references

Rethinking Education

Education in the Anthropocene

Global Competency for an Inclusive World

Artists to Interpret the Impact of Coastal Erosion

Why Students Should Chose Their Own Classes

Photos of the Anthropocene

Radical Hope Syllabus

Embedding Sustainable Development

Educating for Change Forum

Orbis sensualium pictus

Making a CommunityAction Plan

Cultural ecology of human rights and freedoms

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Historically we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. The field of education, however, is beginning to see the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience. Sarah Rose Cavanagh argues in her book, The Spark of Learning, that if  educators want to capture a students’ attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and enhance their motivation, rhey should consider the emotional impact of their teaching materials, style and course design. To make this argument, she brings to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience, and she provides practical examples of successful classroom activities from a variety of disciplines in secondary and higher education.  With respect to human rights education there is no doubt that a photograph has this emotional power.

1 Visualising human rights

Fig 1 Ukraine 2022

Ukrainian soldiers rushed to aid a family hit by Russian mortar fire, Sunday, 6th March, but there was little to be done. Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. They represent protection of our basic needs, as well as the conditions we need to flourish as human beings. These rights have corresponding responsibilities, of governments to their citizens, and of individuals to each other and to their wider communities. It is important that young people understand these rights and responsibilities. This will help to protect them, empower them and enable them to become responsible and active citizens.

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948, photography was considered a ‘universal language’ that would communicate across barriers of race and culture.

Images are a crucial way of disseminating ideas, creating a sense of proximity between peoples across the globe, and reinforcing notions of a shared humanity. Yet visual culture can also define boundaries between people, supporting perceived hierarchies of race, gender, and culture, justifying arguments for conquest and oppression. Only in recent years have scholars begun to argue for new notions of photography and culture that turn our attention to our responsibilities as viewers, or an ethics of spectatorship.  Visualising human rights is about the diverse ways that visual images have been used to define, contest, or argue on behalf of human rights. Images are powerless in themselves but are empowered by people using them to interpret their relations to each other in specific situations. As a knowledge system within the theme of cultural ecology they bring people together to develop visual practices promoting human rights around the globe.  Such practices not only involve the use of photos but also graphic displays such as diagrams and mind maps (Figs 1-3). 

Human rights is an interdisciplinary issue and there’s an avalanche of (mis)information.  That’s why human rights barrister Adam Wagner founded EachOther (formerly called RightsInfo). He particularly wanted to make sure that complex human rights issues could be understood by anyone and to dispel many of the myths that surround it.  Beyond Words are creative pioneers in data visualization and information design for this purpose.   International Classrooms On Line has tackled this problem using mind mapping to expose the cultural ecology of human rights and freedoms.

Fig 2 Human rights explainers

Fig 3 Part of rights and freedoms mind map.  See full map at:

2 Human rights: some principles

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. . .

Preamble Universal Declaration of Human Rights

…every individual and every organ of society. . .shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms. . .

Preamble Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This Universal Declaration of Human Rights [is] a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations . . .

Preamble Universal Declaration of Human Rights

All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. 

World Conference on Human Rights Vienna 1993

Liberty does not consist in mere declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite action.

-Woodrow Wilson Address July 4, 1914

All human rights are universal, indivisible,interdependent and interrelated.

World Conference on Human Rights Vienna 1993

 Human rights are a part of British history, from the Magna Carta to the suffragettes. The Second World War was fought on these principles and since then, the UK has played a leading role in drafting and promoting human rights standards. It has chosen to ratify a number of international human rights instruments and human rights will continue to play an important role in the UK’s constitutional and domestic legal arrangements, whether it is through the Human Rights Act or a Bill of Rights. Moreover, as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the UK is legally obliged to teach about children’s rights.

Jack Snyder with Robert and Renée Belfer take the view that despite current international difficulties, liberal democracy based on rule of law and the full panoply of human rights is by far the most successful form of social organisation yet invented. No democracies ever fight wars against each other, and no country other than the oil states and Singapore have reached the wealth of one-fourth US GDP, without adopting a thoroughgoing liberal order, including human rights. Snyder and the Belfers discuss the backlash against liberals who promote human rights by shaming.  Indeed, it is widely accepted that ‘naming and shaming’ is no longer an effective tool in the hands of Western governments who wish to exert pressure on governments in other parts of the world to curb abuses of rights. In the era of populist politics of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, resistance to shamers, who are seen as overbearing, alien, decadent, elitist, and cosmopolitan, is a global trend. Snyder and the Belfers make the point that shaming is a potentially very powerful weapon that can easily backfire in the hands of the wielder. Human rights are so important that they need to be promoted effectively, not jeopardized by the unintended consequences of shaming.

Jack Snyder defines shaming in the context of human rights advocacy. . Personal shame implies a defective personal trait that may be difficult to remediate. Group shame distinguishes between routine social practices with low cultural importance as opposed to expressions of culture that are important to the group’s fundamental identity.   It is emotionally charged public criticism that denounces or humiliates human rights violators and their abettors in a way that targets the essence of an individual’s identity.  Shaming normally involves verbal characterizations of behavior as ‘shameful’ or ‘inhumane’, but simply naming violations for which amnesty is legally forbidden (genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) can be considered inherently shaming.

Human rights advocates continue to use shaming as a central tool despite recognizing its declining effectiveness. Shame is indeed a potent motivator, but its effects are often counterproductive for this purpose. Especially when wielded by cultural outsiders in ways that appear to condemn local social practices, shaming is likely to produce anger, resistance, backlash, and deviance from outgroup norms, or denial and evasion. Shaming can easily be interpreted as a show of contempt, which risks triggering fears for the autonomy and security of the group. In these circumstances, established religious and elite networks can employ traditional normative counter-narratives to recruit a popular base for resistance. If this counter-mobilization becomes entrenched in mass social movements, popular ideology, and enduring institutions, the unintended consequences of shaming may leave human rights advocates farther from their goal.

To be effective, criticism should:- 

  • be respectful; 
  • be focused on the deed rather than a possibly irremediable character flaw; 
  • be aimed at repairing the social rift;
  • be forceful reminders of principled standards; 
  •  be directed to everyone, not just those at risk of misbehavior;
  • come from insiders to the social group, or outsiders who are widely respected and seen as sympathetic;  
  • compare standards with their own prior performance, not shamed by comparison to neighbours and rivals;
  • not insist on using the language of legalism and universalism; 
  • acknowledge the validity of local normative systems;
  • use generic language of respect and fairness that travels across normative systems; 
  • reserve legal talk to subject matter where outsiders have patently legitimate standing, such as respect for legal due process as a condition of doing international business.
  • advance compliance standards not as moral or even legal imperatives but as technical advice for succeeding at a task. 

Ruling circles in developing countries who are sceptical about human rights are nonetheless keen to gain wealth, technological sophistication, advanced medical services, and other desirable trappings of modernity, many of which flow from advanced liberal democracies and the global capitalist system that liberal states run. States with rights compliance shortfalls tend to be much more enthusiastic about the looser ‘rights-based approach’ of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which loosely link good governance targets and indicators to tangible development assistance. This removes human rights advocacy from the realm of shaming and locates it nearer to management consulting.  Most violations of international law seem to stem from incapacity. Sometimes fixing organisational and technical problems can facilitate rights compliance. In cases that lack a favourable setting for human rights shaming, performance indicators might be more usefully designed as constructive diagnostics for institutional reform than as tools for shaming.

Kristen Neff believes that self-compassion has three core components—kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness—and the fierce and tender aspect of each has an important role to play in the social justice movement. Kindness provides warmth, love, and understanding when we’re hurting from the pain of injustice but also spurs us to be brave and courageous as we try to correct it. Common humanity helps us feel connected to others as we acknowledge that oppression harms everyone, and also empowers us as we bond with others in the struggle for equality. Mindfulness allows us to turn toward and be present with the pain of discrimination and also provides the clarity needed to call it out

Finally, the credibility of human rights as a standard for social behaviour depends on how attractive and dynamic the liberal international order is. It also depends in part on whether people can see themselves and their identity group fitting into that order successfully. This means that a top priority for promoting human rights is restoring the stability of the liberal order and tailoring rights initiatives to the prevailing conditions in places where abuses are occurring. The social psychology of emotion suggests that transnational shaming is unlikely to make a constructive contribution to those efforts.

3  Rights to ecosystem services

Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are key for enjoying a broad range of human rights, including those for food and health. In turn, exercising human rights, such as public participation and access to information, can foster stronger action for conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems. People in rural areas who directly depend on biodiversity for their survival are exceptionally vulnerable to limitations in access to biodiversity and biodiversity loss. Understanding and acting upon synergies between biodiversity and human rights can play a key role in the transformations required for sustainability in line with the 2030 Agenda, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (Fig 4).

Fig 4 Ecosystem services

The human rights based approach (HRBA) to ecosystem services provides the legal ground and principles to empower boys, girls, men and women to claim their human rights as rights holders, and to increase the capacity of those who are obliged to respect, promote, protect and fulfil those rights as duty bearers. Application of the HRBA in its development to cooperate with people living in poverty entails a focus on both what is aimed to be achieved, through standards in human rights treaties and laws, and how to do it, based on the human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability. 

States, as the main duty bearers of human rights, have the obligations to Respect (i.e. not violate the right to freedom of opinion and expression which is a challenge, for example, for rural people dependent on local biodiversity that live far away from cities and the courts); Protect (i.e. implement laws and mechanisms that prevent violations of biodiversity and ecosystem-related rights by state and non-state actors), and Fulfil (i.e. progressive measures that further the realisation of rights to education, health and culture until they become a reality, which is closely related to continued access to biodiversity for food and medicinal uses for many communities that directly depend on ecosystems for their livelihood). 

Diversity of cultures have evolved by peoples’ close interaction with the natural environment as the basic source of all sustenance: biodiversity has and is providing food, medicine, clothing, shelter, and all other material needs, as well as of physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. People have developed detailed local knowledge of plants, animals, and ecological processes, and therefore also contributed to the shaping and preservation of the cultural landscape. This is the background for why indigenous peoples and local communities often contribute effectively to the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, and must become active defenders of environmental rights. Poor and marginalised people are often prone to be more vulnerable to the negative impacts and effects of deteriorating ecosystems in lack of alternative income, livelihoods and information. Human rights may have individual as well as collective dimensions. For example, the cultural rights of indigenous peoples entail elders transmitting ecological knowledge, including the intrinsic and cultural values, to younger generations, which in turn contribute to safeguarding the biodiversity to which their culture is linked. The universality, interrelatedness, interdependency and indivisibility of all human rights are also principles of HRBA. One of the benefits of using HRBA in policies and programmes that embrace the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, is that they specify the rights and responsibilities of actors building on extensively agreed norms as well as interpretations of human rights systems. Many state constitutions also include human rights and relevant provisions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems.

4  Human rights approach to governance

The Goals and visions of the 2030 Agenda are agreed at global level, but a large part of their implementation takes place locally. To make things work, we need all levels.  The bold decisions required to achieve the SDGs can only be carried through when those who are governed feel included and understood by those who govern. SDG 16 calls for effective institutions at all levels. One determinant of effectiveness is the way institutions work together across levels.

Reference sheets have been provided to facilitate coordination and integration of biodiversity conservation with key sectors at USAID by using a common format to present the interests of these sectors and opportunities for integration through collaboration, co-funding or single sector funds. These sheets are intended to be used throughout the program cycle by 

environment and non-environment officers alike (Fig. 5).

Fig 5 Biodiversity integration reference sheet

Laws and policies for conserving and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems are complementary to human rights instruments. One of the means to contribute to biodiversity protection is to provide effective mechanisms for defenders of biodiversity and ecosystems, either to individuals or collectively such as to indigenous peoples or local communities living in areas under exploitation by others, to exercise their civil and political rights without fear of persecution. Examples of these cases include the right to access biodiversity-related information as the basis for the rights of women, men, girls and boys to be able to participate meaningfully in public consultations concerning environmental impact assessments or spatial planning in rural or urban settings.  The right to freedom of opinion and expression is also exercised when denouncing cases of non-compliance with biodiversity regulations by the extractive industry (e.g. mining, forest or oil extraction). Civil society organisations play an important role in facilitating the public participation of communities as well as expressing the concerns of the affected peoples in national, regional and global fora. In practice, important challenges exist in the institutions needed for guaranteeing the rights of environmental and land rights defenders who play a key role in protecting a diverse range of biodiversity and ecosystems. Those opposing large-scale projects with significant impact on ecosystems and on-site biodiversity conservation may face risks to their personal integrity and even their lives. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has said that those working on land rights and natural resources are the second-largest group of defenders at risk of being killed. 

Besides civil and political rights, exercising economic, social and cultural rights can also benefit biodiversity and ecosystems. The customary rights of farmers and indigenous people and their traditional knowledge such as local conservation, sustainable use of plants and animals including genetic resources and natural resource management, are often overlooked and should be acknowledged in decision-making processes. Weak institutions, ineffective environmental legislation, unclear accountability, poor transparency and a lack of public access and participation are usually the main causes behind the undermining of important ecosystem services, and the inability to guarantee access to important natural resources and biodiversity. By applying the HRBA, when supporting the strengthening of institutions and governance, organisations such as Sida can actively promote the work to protect biodiversity, and to promote people’s right to healthy ecosystems and natural resources.

Human rights underpin all the SDGs and contribute to fulfilling the SDGs related to ecosystems and biodiversity, like life on land and life below water. The SDGs related to ecosystems and biodiversity, in turn, provide means to exercise the human rights related SDGs, like zero hunger, good health and wellbeing as well as clean water and sanitation. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognizes the importance of biodiversity integration in sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies and national decision-making, as well as the contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities and their knowledge, innovations and practices, to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Human rights is implicitly mentioned in the CBD and its protocols in relation to access, fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of genetic resources held by indigenous peoples and local communities. 

Examples of questions to improve integration of human rights and biodiversity are: 

• Is the programme or policy taking into account the opportunities and challenges for environmental and human rights defenders, both for men and women, working on biodiversity-related matters to freely exercise their rights individually and collectively without any fear? 

• Is the programme or policy identifying and supporting right holders such as local farmers, elders and women who may have a specific contribution to biodiversity and ecosystems services such as to agrobiodiversity or cultural services? 

• Are targeted measures being considered in the programme or policy to enhance the protection of marginalised people living in vulnerable situations such as those lacking formal legal land and resource rights, and those most affected by the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services owing to their direct dependence on them for their livelihoods?  The erosion of nature, the extinction of species and the loss of biological diversity at unprecedented rates severely threatens human rights for present and future generations.

The loss of global biodiversity is having and will continue to have devastating effects on a wide range of human rights for decades to come. This report is a stark reminder that we can simply not enjoy our basic human rights to life, health, food and safe water without a healthy environment.  Failing to protect biodiversity can constitute a violation of the right to a healthy environment, a right that is legally recognised by 155 States. The protection of biological diversity is indispensable to realise the right to available, accessible, sustainable and nutritious food. Industrial agriculture being one of the main culprit of biodiversity decline, it is vital to have effective and balanced policies to protect ecosystems’ health while producing sufficient nutritious food for all.

From pollination to photosynthesis, all humans depend on healthy ecosystems. But the world’s poorest communities, indigenous peoples, farmers and fishermen are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of changes in climate, biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

As the devastating impacts of pollution and climate change accelerate, it becomes essential to use every tool available, including the effective regulation of businesses, to address these planetary challenges,” said the members of the UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. However, they said, it is also vital that as urgent action is taken to protect the rest of nature, those actions respect and protect human rights.

In the past, conservation actions such as new parks and renewable energy efforts have violated the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Using a rights-based approach, as the IPBES report recommends, will prevent these kinds of violations in the future.  As most of the world’s biodiversity hotspots overlap with indigenous peoples’ territories, protecting their rights over these territories is an imperative.  States have already reached agreements to combat the causes of biodiversity loss, which include habitat destruction, illegal poaching, logging and fishing, over-exploitation of lands, pesticides and other agrochemicals, pollution and climate change. But now urgent action is still needed to implement legal and institutional frameworks to protect biodiversity and all of the human rights that depend on healthy ecosystems. Governments should ensure public information and participation in biodiversity-related decisions and provide access to effective remedies.

5 The Law of Help

Human rights and freedoms are guaranteed by rules, which both aim to constrain a community and provide the necessary help for society to operate within the rules of society and remain sustainable. It was in the fifth volume of Modern Painters, published in 1860, that John Ruskin identified ‘help’ as ‘the highest and first law of the universe, which expressed hospitality, altruism, compassion, kindness and charity as the other names of life.  He moved from the study of paintings to plants, animals, and humans, thereby drawing together the different objects of study with which he had been preoccupied for seventeen years, from the first to the last volume of Modern Painters.  Ruskin rationalised his actions with the concept of composition.  For him It meant simply, putting several things together so as to make one thing out of them; the nature and goodness of which they all have a share in producing.  “It is the essence of composition that everything should be in a determined place, perform an intended part, and act in that part advantageously for everything that is connected with it. Composition, understood in this pure sense, is the type, in the arts of mankind, of the Providential government of the world”.  His model was a tree. Whereas a branch can be taken away without harming a tree, a limb cannot be removed without doing harm to an animal, and so Ruskin reasoned, ‘intensity of life is also intensity of helpfulness, completeness of depending of each part on all the rest. The ceasing of this help is what we call corruption; and in proportion to the perfectness of the help, is the dreadfulness of the loss’. He positioned ‘help’ against ‘separation’ and delineated something like a social policy in which ‘government and co-operation are in all things and eternally the rights and freedoms of helpfulness, maintaining the laws of life . Anarchy and competition, eternally, and in all things, are the laws of death. If we don’t value nature, if we continue to be species-selfish, we’re almost sure to deprive future generations, and likely even our future selves, of a great good; and that good is not merely the commodity use of nature, but includes practical goods like virtue, as well as the experiences of awe and wonder arising from interacting with nature. 

6  Internet References


Human rights biodiversity and ecosystems

Why protect nature?

Backlash against rights shaming emotions

Self Compassion and mindfulness

Self Compassion and shame

Human influences on evolution

 Why do we need to protect biodiversity

Human Rights Here And Now

John Ruskin’s Politics and Natural Law

The Law of Help

Ruskin’s ecological vision (1843-1886)

Comrade Ruskin

Does Law Create Freedom

Goodnss in Nature