Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable developent’

Educating For Climate Change

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

1 The need for a syllabus of radical hope

The mission of the University Consortium of Small Island States was operating 2014-18 to enhance its education institutions. The aim was to facilitate development of the capacity needed to implement the UN’s Programme of action, popularly referred to as the Barbados Program of Action (BPOA).  BPOA is an important historical policy document that comprehensively addresses the economic, environmental, and social developmental vulnerabilities facing small island states.  It outlines a strategy that seeks to mitigate those vulnerabilities.  BPOA remains the only internationally approved programme specific to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which has been collectively and unanimously endorsed by SIDS since the 1990s.

The full text of the BPOA was produced in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1994 at the first Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States.  This  was a conference mandated by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/189. The need for an island’s specific conference was highlighted some two years previously at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), held in Rio de Janeiro where 179 governments voted to adopt Agenda 21.  Chapter 17, section G of Agenda 21 acknowledges that small island developing states are a special case both for environmental protection and education for sustainable development.  We now know that SIDS are considered extremely vulnerable to global warming and sea level rise, with predictions of social upheavals that will be associated with climate change.  Local communities must meet this situation with hope (Fig 1).  In this context the BPOA is the global model for learning how to live sustainably.

 Fig 1  Creating a community syllabus of radical hope 

Survey what is good and bad about where you live. Design an action plan to celebrate what is good and improve what is bad.  Reflect on what the community has learned about local culture and its ecology as the basis for a  community syllabus of radical hope linking schools with the communities they serve.

Hope can be defined as ”the belief that circumstances in the future will be better.” It allows us to be optimistic about a positive outcome and increases our chances of realizing our goals and dreams. Although there are many obstacles in life, hope allows us to approach them with a successful mindset.  Radical Hope is an idea that helps us to imagine the future after a moment of upheaval and change. The term was first defined by philosophers looking at the big questions of human existence, knowledge, reason and the mind. They wanted to better understand how people can recover after a traumatic experience, such as the loss of their culture. Jonathan Lear illustrates this idea with the experience of the North American Crow Nation after the 19th Century destruction of the buffalo herds upon which these peoples were totally dependent. The Crow were faced with the end of their traditional way of life, yet with firm leadership, they reimagined a future without buffalo.  

Everyone needs a personal syllabus of radical hope to focus their values that will carry them successfully into a post 2030 future. This blog outlines a syllabus of radical hope produced for teaching the new Welsh Humanities Area of Learning and Experience (HALE).  HALE encourages learners to engage with the most important issues facing humanity, including sustainability and social change, and helps to develop the skills necessary to interpret and articulate the past with the present.  The aim is to awaken a sense of wonder, fire the imagination, and inspire learners to grow individually in knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  

The Welsh HALE is being presented to members of the Green Forum as an online educational resource that could be developed for meeting the two key objectives of the BPOA. namely: 

  • improved information flow between SIDS on courses offered, facilities available, student needs and relevant online content.
  • cooperative curriculum development through research into managing, indigenous knowledge and outreach in the key areas of sustainable development of SIDS that support resilience building for sustainable development.  

Strengthening a pedagogy for environmental issues requires action in two main areas: training for educators in environmental issues and syllabus development with the production of appropriate indigenous teaching materials.  Both areas introduce environmental issues unique to SIDS.  These can be mind mapped across a range of disciplines (Fig 2) , to support an anthropological syllabus of radical hope.

2 Starting With Anthropology

Fig 2 Anthropology online

Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics, in both the present and past.   Social anthropology studies patterns of behavior, while cultural anthropology studies cultural meaning, including norms and values.  A portmanteau term, sociocultural anthropology is commonly used to explore how people, variously positioned within the world today, live and understand their world. It includes their aspirations and struggles to share systems of ideas (i.e., culture) which are related to the structured ways that people act and interact in society (i.e., power) and the environment (i.e.natural resorces).

Anthropology of art is a sub-field in social anthropology dedicated to the study of art in different cultural contexts. The anthropology of art focuses on historical, economic and aesthetic dimensions in non-Western art forms, including what is known as ‘tribal art’

The anthropology of art studies and analyses the wide range of material objects produced by people around the world. These are considered not merely as aesthetic objects but are understood to play a wider role in people’s lives, for instance in their beliefs and rituals. The materials studied include sculpture, masks, paintings, textiles, baskets, pots, weapons, and the human body itself. Anthropologists are interested in the symbolic meanings encoded in such objects, as well as in the materials and techniques used to produce them. Perhaps the simplest, yet most appropriate distinction between artefact and art would be that an artefact is primarily the product of craftsmanship and skill, while a work of art is invested with an emotional, philosophical, spiritual or aesthetic quality that reaches beyond. It has an ambiguous something that is not always easy to define, perhaps a special element that elevates it from the realm of workmanship to a more-significant level, where arts reasoning is applied to explain sustainability.  In this respect the culture of members of indigenous communities in SIDS directly relates to a specific way of being, seeing, and acting in the world. Their culture is developed on the basis of a close relationship with their traditional territories and the resources they harbour, not only because they are their main means of subsistence, but also because they are part of their worldview, and therefore, a part of their culture as an ecological entity. Objects in human life can become integrated into social relationships: for example, strong emotional attachments are found between people and material culture that is connected to ancestors. Such objects transmit culture with them, creating and reinforcing cultural norms: this kind of object needs tending, this does not. Scout badges, fraternity pins, even Fitbit watches are “symbolic storage devices,” symbols of social identity that may persist through multiple generations. In this manner, they can also be teaching tools: this is how we were in the past, this is how we need to behave in the present.  Those objects leave “traces,” that have established narratives associated with them.

3  Cultural Ecology

Culture and ecology merge in cultural ecology as a sub-discipline of anthropology that sets out the complex relationships between humans and the environments which they inhabit. This takes many shapes and forms. For example it includes examining the hunting/gathering patterns of humans tens of thousands of years ago and, archaeological investigations of early agriculturalists and their impact on deforestation or soil erosion.  In modern times it deals with how human societies are adapting to climate change and other anthropogenic environmental issues.  Cultural Ecology is a growing subfield of anthropology because of  the challenges of understanding and addressing human-caused environmental problems.  Like climate change, species extinctions, plastic pollution, and habitat destruction all require an understanding of the complex cultural, political, and economic systems that have created these problems (Fig 3).

Fig 3 A mind map of cultural ecology as the managerial balance between conservation and exploitation of natural resources.

Cultural Ecology developed in the 1960s as anthropologists borrowed methods and terminology from growing developments in ecology and applied them to understand day to day issues of living in an overcrowded polluted world.  In the first decade of the 21st century, there are publications dealing with the ways in which humans can develop a more acceptable cultural relationship with the environment. An example is sacred ecology, a sub-topic of cultural ecology, introduced by Fikret Berkes in 1999. It seeks lessons from traditional ways of life in Northern Canada to shape a new environmental perception for urban dwellers. This particular conceptualisation of people and environment comes from various cultural levels of local knowledge about species and place, resource management systems using local experience, social institutions with their rules and codes of behaviour. It takes a world view through religion, ethics and broadly defined belief systems.  The global message is that culture is a balancing act between the mindset devoted to the exploitation of natural resources and that which conserves them. Perhaps the best model of cultural ecology in this context is, paradoxically, the mismatch of culture and ecology that have occurred when Europeans suppressed the age-old native methods of land use and have tried to settle European farming cultures on soils manifestly incapable of supporting them.

There is a sacred ecology associated with environmental awareness, and the task of cultural ecology is to inspire urban dwellers to develop a more acceptable sustainable cultural relationship with the environment that supports them.

As a knowledge framework, cultural ecology can be customized with information from environmental anthropology to assemble a personal syllabus of radical hope about human adaptations to rapidly changing social and physical environments.  Human adaptation refers to both biological and cultural processes that enable a population to survive and reproduce within a given or changing environment.This may be carried out diachronically (examining entities that existed in different epochs), or synchronically (examining a present system and its components). The central argument is that the natural environment, in small scale or subsistence societies is a major contributor to social organization and other human institutions concerned with sustainability.

Cultural ecology is expressed physically in a group’s material culture, a term used  to refer to all the corporeal, tangible objects that are created, used, kept and left behind by past and present cultures. Material culture refers to objects that are used, lived in, displayed and experienced; and the term includes all the things people make, including tools, pottery, houses, furniture, buttons, roads, even the cities themselves. One focus is the meaning of the objects: how we use them, how we treat them, what they say about us.  Some objects reflect family history, status, gender, and/or ethnic identity. People have been making and saving objects for 2.5 million years.  Material culture studies, however, focus not just on the artifacts themselves, but rather the meaning of those objects to people. One of the features that characterize humans apart from other species is the extent to which we interact with objects, whether they are used or traded, whether they are curated or discarded  .

4   Circularity

Fig 4 The environmental outcome of a linear economy

Circularity is a topic within cultural ecology  which models human systems of production and consumption.  It involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.  Circularity aims to manage global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution by implementing the three base principles of the model. These principles are: eliminating waste and pollution, circulating products and materials, and the regeneration of nature. Circularity is defined in contradistinction to the traditional waste-generating linear economy (Fig 4). The idea and concepts of circular economy have been studied extensively in academia, business, and government over the past decade. Circularity has been gaining popularity since it helps to minimize emissions and consumption of raw materials, opens up new market prospects and principally, increases the sustainability of consumption and improves the efficiency of the use of natural resources.

5 Degrowth: a syllabus for a democratic pedagogy

All economic value is derived from nature by way of society.  Economic value is therefore rooted in human values and ultimately in the spiritual values that give purpose and meaning to human life.  In the absence of purpose, there is no logical motivation for sustaining human life or sustaining human economies. Thus, economic sustainability is deeply rooted in spirituality.  So fundamental challenges in achieving sustainability are ethical, moral, and ultimately spiritual rather than technological or economic. Therefore, sustainability ultimately depends on creating a moral and ethical culture that gives long term economic sustainability priority over short term economic expediency. 

“Deep sustainability” goes beyond the normal shallow or instrumental strategies, which focus on resource efficiency and substitution, motivated by economic incentives. Deep sustainability explores the philosophical, ethical, and transcendental roots of ecological, social, and economic integrity. In so doing, it calls for a spiritual-rooted, cultural revolution. This revolution must be motivated by an understanding that the pursuit of economic sustainability is synonymous with the pursuit of authentic happiness—which is inherently social and spiritual as well as material. A degrowth economy would be one which simply provides the material requisites and means for a pursuit of happiness motivated by a spiritual sense of wellbeing.  

Spiritual wellness comes from having connections to something greater than yourself.  It is about having a set of values, principles, morals and beliefs that provide a sense of purpose, hopefulness and meaning to life.  Applying those principles to guide your actions generates a personal prosperity that can make life worthwhile in a steady state economy.  However, currently we are demanding more from Earth than it can regenerate. For more than 40 years, humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish. We would need the regenerative capacity of 1.6 Earths to provide the natural resources and ecological services we currently use. Only for a brief period can we cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than the oceans can replenish, or emit more carbon into the atmosphere than the forests and oceans can absorb. The consequences of “overshoot” are already clear: habitat and species loss, and accumulation of carbon waste we throw in the sky.  In order for the poor world to get richer, the rich world has to become poorer. These are the outcomes of the rich nations signing up to a global strategy of equal shares for all nations.

6 Teaching with hope

Hope is about the belief that you can make an impact. Hope is about allowing students agency in their own learning. Hope is about ensuring that students are looking ahead, identifying for themselves what needs to be improved, and giving them the skills and confidence to go out and do it.  There are many different curricula for teaching a syllabus of hope, most of them hoping that science will lead the way.  ‘Starting from within anthropology’ is just one of them.  

In his keynote address to the Royal Anthropological Institute Conference entitled ‘Art, Materiality and Representation’, on 1st June 2018,  Tim Ingold presented his view that art and anthropology potentially afford new ways of thinking about democracy and citizenship — ways that could give hope to future generations. The universal goal is to reach a zero waste in ways that are ethical, economical, efficient and visionary.  Education  guides people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for other systems to use.  Zero waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing a zero waste strategy will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.

Regarding a curriculum that applies arts reasoning to explain sustainability (AARTES), Ingold believes that this approach has been pushed to the margins, above all by the relentless expansion of big science, aided and abetted by multinational corporations and neoliberal globalisation. With them has gone the question from which all inquiry must begin and indeed from which Ingold began his lecture: how ought we to live? His standpoint is that big science is not interested in this question because it believes it can deliver the answers that will maintain a growth economy through mega-projects of geoengineering, if not already, then within the not too distant future. Ingold’s parable is that, when the dinosaurs went extinct, it was the small mammals that inherited the earth, among them were some weasel-like carnivores. On 29th April 2016 it was a weasel that bit through an electric cable, putting the largest machine ever built, CERN’s vast £4bn Hadron Collider, out of action for a week. 

For many, the collider is the greatest expression of scientific hubris we have yet seen. Its interaction with the weasel… 

“…is the delusional project of our time, truly a machine for the end of the world.  But when big science collapses, as it is bound to do, along with the global economy that sustains it, art and anthropology, like that famous weasel, will hold the future in their hands”  

Educationalists must be ready for it with a syllabus of radical hope.

7 The Green Forum

The growth economy is now failing in two ways:

1. positive growth is becoming uneconomic in our full-world economy;

2. negative growth, resulting from the bursting of financial bubbles inflated beyond physical limits, though temporarily necessary, soon becomes self-destructive.

This leaves a non-growing, or steady-state economy, as the only long-term alternative. Herman Daly  has articulated the basic rules of a steady state economy as follows:

  1. It should exploit renewable resources no faster than they can be regenerated.
  2. It should deplete non-renewable resources no faster than the rate at which renewable substitutes can be developed.
  3. It should emit wastes no faster than they can be safely assimilated by ecosystems.

Presuming depletion and regeneration rates and resilience of ecosystems can be accurately determined, two basic strategies follow these steady state rules:

(1) an economizing strategy 

(2) an innovating strategy. 

Economizing involves reducing the inputs used in economic activities and minimizing the waste outputs. It entails conserving, re-using, maintaining, and generally embracing the wisdom of ‘enough’ rather than succumbing to the consumer demand for ‘more’. 

Innovating entails doing things more efficiently. It means learning, inventing, adapting, and using appropriate technologies to achieve desired ends. Innovation (and the increased efficiency it engenders) in a non-growing economy, is the basis of conservation management.  

A steady state economy, therefore, will adopt some combination of economizing and innovating to achieve sustainability, supported by a local syllabus of radical hope.

To discuss this proposition an international Green Forum has been created to connect schools and the communities they serve,  across the globe who are interested in making local action plans to adopt a circular, steady state, zero waste economy.  It is for those who require space to discuss Ideas for a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources.  To participate in The Green Forum, which is free, go to-

8  Internet references

Learning from each other

Building the circular economy through education and infrastructure

Cultural Ecology1

Culture ecology2

Material culture

Material Culture2

Environmental anthropology


Teaching with hope

Zero waste curriculum toolkit

Zero Waste International Alliance)


Learning Circularity With Small Island Developing States

Monday, December 5th, 2022

1 Making Education Relevant

Circularity, is an economic model that follows the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It is a more relevant education concept for the future than linearity, which follows the dominant common economy of Take, Make and Dump.  The transition to a circular economy will require a qualified workforce with specific and sometimes new skills, with opportunities for employment and social dialogue around conservation management. If the right skills are to be developed, they will have to support job creation in the green economy at all levels of education and training. 

Fig 1 Entropy

In particular, if small island developing states (SIDS) are to improve the quality of life of their citizens and achieve sustainable long term development of wellbeing, education has to be made relevant to their future in a post-2030 circular economy.   Education is not an independent discipline, but is intimately connected with the functioning of society, with its porous boundaries of history, economics and politics. For example, education systems in small island states are commonly legacies of old colonial powers.  As such they are dominated by external summative examinations that drive a top-down subject-dominated didactic pedagogy. This legacy is irrelevant for promoting  sustainable low and non-chemical development in small Island states (the Green Forum’s ISLANDS acronym).  Here entropy is a relative lifecycle measure of the energetic efficiency of maintaining the utility of products and services, or reusing the constituent materials (Fig 1).

The beginning of the global environmental crisis in the eighties marked an important turning point for educational design. Paralysed for too long by the failures in relevance of centralised and standard-setting approaches, a few researchers and practitioners seem to have been imbued with a new spirit of educational reform.  It was characterised by flexibility of approaches, enhancement of participatory processes, and adoption of objectives that were no doubt less ambitious, but more pragmatic. In response to this movement for educational reform, which promoted systems thinking about the environment, the University of Cambridge launched a new interdisciplinary subject for their International GCSE entitled ‘Natural Economy.’  Dealing with the organisation of nature for production, the subject was to stand alongside Political Economy (the organisation of people for production).  

Natural Economy was taken up by some International Schools but proved too radical for most institutions in the 1980’s when developing national state curricula were given a political boost.  However, Namibia adopted natural economy wholeheartedly, where for a while it replaced Biology and Geography.  Part of the problem was the novel, off beam concept of strategic  classroom piloting, where, by encouraging independent thinking, teachers had to become  mentors, guiding each student to plan and build their own body of knowledge,  It was only in 2020 that UK teachers began to deliver a personalised national curriculum.  This happened in Wales, where the pedagogy became fully inclusive of humanism in 2002-3.  Welsh state schools are now empowered to design their own bottom up curricula, tailored to each individual learner’s needs, while supporting their social wellbeing.  

With the advent of the Internet, Natural Economy was renamed ‘Cultural Ecology’ and is now freely available as a flexible, on line ideational scaffold for individualised distance learning. It is not a subject but a cross cultural knowledge management system, a mind map for learners to customise. It is an holistic syllabus. The concept of circularity accommodates a body of inter connected knowledge from rusting of metal  to wrinkling of skin. The central cultural pillars are  ‘people’, ’ecology’, ‘place’, which articulate three socioeconomic actions for tackling climate change, ‘eliminate waste and pollution’, ‘circulate products and materials at their highest value’, ‘regenerate nature’.  Waste in this context is the central feature of urban ecosystems dominated by cultural, political, and material relationships.  Therefore, Cultural Ecology provides a flexible, interdisciplinary toolkit to help individuals and organisations transition to a circular economy.  They embrace learning and innovating to apply what they’ve learned in the real world of work and home. However, cultural ecology is only one of many frameworks that could express the needs of localism. For example, the UK’s Royal Society of Art’s Area Based Curriculum indicates that the important thing is for schools to develop a ‘local school curriculum’ in partnership with the communities they serve.

2  The quest For Circularity

Regarding the SIDS, each island is a unique  expression of ecology and culture.  Education at all levels should reflect this diversity,  However, what all islands have in common is their quest for circularity to manage physical wastes, such as plastics, used oil, end-of-life vehicles and e-waste. Solid waste includes garbage, construction debris, commercial refuse, sludge from water supply or waste treatment plants.  Solid waste can come from industrial, commercial, mining, or agricultural operations, and from household and community activities (Fig 2).

Fig 2  Diagram of a cross curricular knowledge management system for wastes

  The transition to a circular economy is based on three kinds of conservation management plans;

  • eliminate waste and pollution;
  • circulate products and materials at their highest value,
  • and regenerate nature.

How circularity operates is dependent on how individuals and organisations learn to innovate and apply what they’ve learned in the real world, which is driven by design. A circular economy moves away from the ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ model to one in which products and materials are maintained in circulation for as long as possible, and waste and resource use are minimised.  In a circular economy this approach is built into the product life cycle from the beginning, starting with the choice and quantities of materials used and the design of products that minimises their impact on the environment both during their production and their use. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, “growth” in a circular economy is decoupled from the constant consumption of finite resources. It places a higher value on quality and service rather than disposable goods and it involves sharing, repairing, reusing and recycling existing materials while encouraging the regeneration of natural systems and the adoption of a gifting society.

3 The Green Forum

This international forum is managed by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP) – a global community of organisations and experts committed to collaboratively generating, managing, and sharing green growth knowledge. Led by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the World Bank Group, GGKP draws together more than 75 partner organisations.

The Green Forum is an open, online interactive community space for professionals to share and discuss insights in the pursuit of a sustainable economic transition. The Forum includes discussions on global topics and the ability for users to create dedicated groups focused on specific themes, initiatives, and projects.  In addition to posting the latest events, opportunities, and blogs in relevant fields, there are also Discussions and Groups that host focused dialogues based on community interest and demand. 

4 The  ISLANDS Knowledge System

The Green Forum is the virtual space for Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island States (the acronym is ISLANDS). ISLANDS supports thirty-three Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans to pursue safe chemical development pathways.

The overarching objectives of ISLANDS are to:

  • prevent the build-up of materials and chemicals in the environment that contain harmful chemicals in SIDS;
  • and soundly manage and dispose of existing harmful chemicals and materials in SIDS.

ISLANDS seeks to address the sound management of chemicals and waste through:

  1. strengthening the capacity of sub-national, national, and regional institutions,
  2. strengthening the enabling policy and regulatory framework in these countries,
  3.  and unlocking resources for implementation measures.

It is a virtual space to learn about the ISLANDS Programme and to link with colleagues in all SIDS regions. The Coordination, Communication and Knowledge Management project (CCKM) coordinates this space as well as the Plastics, End-of-Life Vehicles, E-Waste and Used Oil groups.  

‘Learning Circularity With SIDS’ is an educational sub division of the ISLANDS group in the Green Forum, where information about circularity  is exchanged as posts and links to URLs. The aim is to create a knowledge management system to connect people across the globe who are making action plans to adopt circularity  with a green growth economy.  Green growth means fostering growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which a country’s well-being relies.  Bringing circularity to the center of learning at all levels in SIDS is of increasing importance if these countries are to thrive.  Therefore SIDS may be regarded as Eco Learning Centres.  They are digital spaces where people of all ages, working across disciplines and environments, go to exchange knowledge, experiences and ideas about how to build a place-based body of knowledge for life pro 2030.  The objective of Learning Circularity With SIDS as an ISLANDS sub group is to help them design their particular bit of planet Earth for sustainable circularity, applying the suite of free Google tools for learners to communicate their learning experience in the form of documents, websites and blogs.

SIDS as a network of ECO-learning Centres (ELCs) is a new idea. They are digital spaces for individuals, community groups/schools, specialists, businesses, young people, officials and elected representatives to marshall green skills and curricular improvements.  The objective is to create connections with peers and experts learning how to apply their knowledge to design and manage a waste-free environment, identifying governance challenges and business opportunities . ELCs have holistic, flexible pedagogies to frame circularity within and between cultures and their diverse ecologies.  In this wider view, they also present ideas and achievements from all small areas designed sustainably (SADS) e.g.biosphere reserves.  The mission of ‘Learning Circularity With SIDS’ is to create a global education network of SIDS-based school/community centres for lifelong learning about how to manage local ecosystem services to live sustainably. They function on the principle that knowledge is wealth.

A few words of caution from the educational teformer, Tim Oates. We need to look at resilience in exams, the balance of forms of assessment, student well-being and the way in which we report attainment.  But moving prematurely to major system reform would be a huge mistake. We should be very cautious about formulating new arrangements before we know what the post pandemic world and education scene looks like. In particular, we need  to understand the real character of remote learning and of the novel national assessment arrangements, then work out the means of establishing stable national standards. “Let’s avoid the cycle of planned failure, not lapse into it”

5 Eco Learning Networks

The following propositions from David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa highlight what they think is distinctive and hopeful about environmental education within SIDS as ‘islands for hope’. 

1  environmental education initiatives on islands are markedly eclectic in their rich blending of practice from within the different school/community localities. 

2  Environmental education on different islands, especially in the Pacific, is marked by a return to indigenous, community-based learning. 

3 There is a distinctive island pedagogy regarding  the greater weighting given to relational, socio-affective and action-orientated learning about circular economies. 

4 There is a paucity of inter-island cosmopolitan dialogue.  Questions are asked about how to ensure islanders, steeped in learning about place, can be brought to connect with the global culture of mass consumerism and its environmental impact. 

5 The frequency of cross-curricular, interdisciplinary, even trans-disciplinary framing of environmental education initiatives is identified as bringing a distinctive syllabus and curriculum of hope to island practice. 

These educational propositions reject the idea of an open, ever-expanding economy, which inevitably depletes Earth’s finite natural resources every time we create something, leaving behind waste and toxicity when we dump it or burn it. The hope of education for conservation is that by encouraging a circular way of thinking  we repair and reuse as much as we can, and remanufacture and recycle to save resources, reduce waste, and reduce costs.  

The article, “The Circular Economy Runs Through Basel,” by Paul Hagen, Russ LaMotte, and Dacie Meng, discusses the emergence of the Basel Convention as the key international legal system governing anthropological relationships between culture and ecology.  This system is exemplified by the management of toxic waste set out in the Convention’s business plan for 2020-23. With this level of detailed planning and global action  the ISLANDS Green Forum created by the Convention can be a virtual classroom for developing island models to bring cultural ecology to the centre of education at all levels.  The educational aim is for young people to discuss and promote the adoption of a post-2030 circular economy, communicating  ideas and achievements for local environmental sustainability.  An eco-learning network (Fig 3) with this aim can rally and unite young people to make realistic, but dynamic change, creating positive impacts for our planet now.  It supports them by teaching the skills and knowledge needed to benefit and improve planet Earth throughout their lifetimes.  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 2030 objectives therefore are 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.

Fig 3  An online community of practice communicating ideas and achievements to  establish a school/community Eco learning network for living sustainably

The blue field in Fig 2 represents a small island developing state which has created an online community of practice consisting of schools and the families they serve networking as an eco learning society.  Their objective is to produce and apply neighborhood action plans to promote a local closed cycle economy.  People use blogs. e.g. Google Blogger, and the Green Forum to share ideas and achievements.  They work with local governance to keep their activities in line with national initiatives and model local businesses that have adopted closed cycle practices, as educational resources.  The CCKMS is the cross curricular knowledge management system for mind mapping a school/community Eco learning network (Fig 3).

6  ‘TheBrain’ Knowledge Management System

Traditional directory trees confine information to a strict hierarchical organization and are incapable of expressing the multi-layered relationships that exist in the real world, which people think about and draw meaning from in their ordinary thought processes.

‘TheBrain’ takes the opposite approach—it enables linking information into a network of logical associations. Any piece of information can be linked to any other piece. The power of TheBrain lies in the flexibility of these links. Users can quickly create structures of information that reflect the way they think about information. With ‘TheBrain’ learners can drag and drop files from folders or folders themselves. So they don’t have to abandon their filing system but can visualize it in a manner that reflects their unique thought processes. 

With conventional mind mapping software, each map cannot practically be larger than a few hundred items. ‘TheBrain’ is designed to allow tens of thousands of items and files to be integrated into a single workspace. The software offers a dynamic, sharable visual display that is infinitely scalable (Fig 4).

Fig 4 Example of ‘TheBrain’ as across currcular knowledge management system for a conservation management curriculum

7 Internet References

Ecumenes and ecological islands

An area based curriculum

Knowledge management for  ISLANDS programme

Reform with caution

Cultural Ecology: People, Ecology; Place.

Cultural Ecology: Blog 

Cultural Ecology: Mind Map

The Green Forum