Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

Little trust in the 25 year plan

📥  Comment, News and Updates

2010, the new coalition government, and Mr Gove's whirlwind arrival at the DfE and the loss of all the rainbows, came back to me as I read Jonathon Porrit's post about the 25 year non-plan.  I've been waiting for some substance around all this even since being rather taken aback by some of the egregiously positive comment from the usual suspects.  See this for example.  But JP gave us substance + attitude.

This is how he ends his blog (NB, this is not for those seeking safe spaces):

So whilst I appreciate that organisations like WWF, the RSPB and the Soil Association, all have to be rather more balanced in their response than I have been, do they really have to be quite so naïve?  Isn’t it completely obvious that Gove’s principal intention here (apart from personal detoxification) is to try and persuade voters that our post-Brexit environment really will be safe in their hands.  We already know nothing could be further from the truth.  Post-Brexit, it will be trade first, and everything else (including environmental and animal welfare standards) just so much chaff to be negotiated away.  Liam Fox makes no bones about this, happy to let Gove blather on knowing how these things will play out once the deals are being done – especially with the USA.

So why would anybody in the Green Movement be going along with this transparent deceit?  Having completely failed to make the pro-environment case for Remain in the Referendum campaign in 2016, every one of our environmental NGOs should now be forensically focussed on ensuring that the Gove/Fox hard Brexit is avoided, reminding citizens of the calamity that awaits us if those free trade Brexiteers eventually get their way.  This is absolutely not the time to be toadying up to Gove, even if he has promised to do a couple of things (to support the EU’s ban on neonicotinoids, for instance) that represent real victories for campaigners.

As for Theresa May herself, she must be only too happy to have Gove out and about as a born-again greenie – indeed, as the standard-bearer for wooing young people back into the Party on the strength of its new-found passion for the environment.  From what I know of young people, this is a completely preposterous expectation, and Gove must know that. B ut that won’t stop him ‘reaching out’ to gullible environmentalists, wherever he can find them, to smear them with a little bit more green slime."

Well; we shall see ...

 

Misleadingly good news about the SDGs

📥  Comment, New Publications

Question: When does 75% mean not only 'not a lot', but misrepresents what's happening?

Answer: When it's part of an EAUC presentation of a sustainability survey.

The other day, the third annual ‘Sustainability in Education’ report from the National Union of Students (NUS), Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), University and College Union (UCU), the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the College Development Network (CDN) was published.

EAUC's presentation of the outcomes said this:

"The research is based on a sample of 500 staff members from universities, colleges and students’ unions in the UK, with 63 respondents identifying as lead staff members on environmental sustainability and social responsibility in a formal or informal basis.

One of the key findings it highlighted was this:

"75% of respondents have reported that their institution has progressed action linked to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative"

Sounds quite good doesn't it?

But when you dig into the data you find a problem.  The 75% is not 75% of the 500 respondents.  Page 41 of the report reveals that those who answered this question were 33 out 0f 44 of respondents who "have a HE university or college, formal or informal remit or responsibility for delivering on environmental sustainability and social responsibility, and the lead member of staff for environmental sustainability and/or social responsibility".

That is, of the 63 respondents identifying as such lead staff members, only 44 answered this question, and only 33 of them highlighted the SDGs when they did so – other possibilities were the Paris Agreement, the UNESCO GAP initiative and (bizarrely) the REF.   The SDG option was the largest choice made of the initiatives listed – in EAUC's words:  "the biggest motivator".

If data were representative of the sector, the appropriate response proportion would be nearer 25% than 75%.  However, as it isn't representative, then it's 75% of a small number of people.  This is a pity in every sense.  I can't bring myself to think that EAUC set out to mislead us all; rather, it's probably just a casual approach to summarising research.

 

The government, the SDGs and the missing link

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I see that the government now has a dedicated webpage to the SDGs.  This says:

'The UK is committed to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. The most effective way to do this is by ensuring that the Goals are fully embedded in planned activity of each Government department. The most effective mechanism for coordinating implementation is the departmental planning process. ..."

So far; so good.  The webpage then sets out all 17 goals with links to a number of strategies that are related to the goals.

When you look at Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, and you click on the links, you find that the Department of Education says this:

"Our purpose is to help create a country where there is social mobility and equality of opportunity by providing excellent education, training and care, and to help everyone reach their potential, regardless of background.  We will achieve our purpose by working tirelessly to deliver our ambitions.

One overarching ambition will focus on places and communities across the country that feel they have been ‘left behind’, because they have not yet seen the improvement that other parts of the country have already benefited from. A further four ambitions will cover the key life stages of people’s education:

  1. Closing the word gap. Boosting access to high quality early language and literacy both in the classroom and at home ensuring more disadvantaged children leave school having mastered the basics of literacy that many take for granted
  2. Closing the attainment gap. Raising standards for every pupil, supporting teachers early in their career as well as getting more great teachers in areas where there remain significant challenges
  3. Real choice at post-16. Creating world-class technical education, backed by a half a billion pounds in investment, and increasing the options for all young people regardless of their background
  4. Rewarding careers for all. Boosting skills and confidence to make the leap from education into work, raising career aspirations. Building a new type of partnership with businesses to improve advice, information and experiences for young people

These ambitions build on other vital work to tackle key challenges throughout the life stages: investing in support for looked after children e.g. through the pupil premium plus, virtual school heads, and designated teachers; delivering sustainable improvements to the children’s social care system e.g. supporting the social work profession through establishing a What Works centre to disseminate best practice; taking forward the biggest changes to SEND provision in a generation, providing tailored support from 0-25; and delivering bold new proposals on children’s mental health to ensure all children can develop into confident adults. ..."

It's a curiosity, however, that on this DfE webpage there is no link to the SDGs, or any mention that these plans relate to the Goals.

This does not look like a whole-hearted commitment; much more like box-ticking.  The DfE helpfully has a "What's wrong with this page?" button for feedback.  So I told them.

 

Eternity is in love with the productions of time

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I’ve just read Revolution by Peter Ackroyd, which is a very engaging history of the 18th century.  Here's something to whet your appetite:

"The Leicester Sisterhood of Female Handspinners was established by 18,500 women in 1788".

In the book, Ackroyd says that William Blake's famous line:

Eternity is in love with the productions of time

... was written as advertising copy for Josiah Wedgwood's pottery empire.  This is a long way in every sense from the new Jerusalem.

What follows might seems rather bizarre (and perhaps it's not wise to do this sort of thing), but reading the book brought the sustainable development goals to mind – not the full detail of the 17 Goals (and the zillions of targets and indicators) as we know them now, but this question:

If such Goals had been written in the 1780s, what would they have said?

One thing is for sure, had the international infrastructure been in place, and communication been easy, the political, social and economic times certainly provided sufficient reasons to create a set of Goals.  Although there might not have been 17 of them, there would surely have been considerable overlap with what we have today.  And there would have been no need for questions as to whether the Goals had any relevance to life in the UK.

Thus it is that the Goals not only exist as a lens through which to see the contemporary world, but also provide a means of looking back 250 years or so.

 

Taking the Long View: a 25 year environment plan for the UK?

📥  Comment, News and Updates

Today's post: Taking the Long View: a 25 year environment plan for the UK? is by the regular guest contributor, Steve Martin.

Theresa May and Michael Gove took time out last week,  to visit the Wetlands Centre , in London to “launch” a long overdue 25 year environment plan for the UK. Long overdue, because, all of the previous administrations, since 2009, have failed miserably to make any substantive policy announcements on any aspect of the environment. And, more crucially have said nothing on our increasingly irresponsible and unsustainable way of life and living in this country.

So, photo shoot for the PM and the Secretary of State for the Environment, in one of the UK’s most prestigious wetland and educational conservation centres along with some animated children from a local school... What’s not to like? Press pictures and video clips set the scene, the PM holding binoculars, enclosed by the children, pointing out the wild birds, the PM, commenting” there a lot of them aren’t there”, and Michael Gove, silent and bespectacled, taking up the rear. But what were the politicians really thinking? Was the PM, holding her binoculars, thinking, as one sarcastic commentator suggested “I need a policy?” And, Mr Gove;”and, I’m looking to become Prime Minister!” More importantly did they get the link between conservation and education?

Seriously, though, the “plan”, albeit framed by lofty rhetoric, was littered with vague aspiration and no detail and no teeth. It was largely, if not exclusively aimed at the current popular and highly relevant concern for our plastic filled oceans, highlighted by the TV series, Blue Planet 2; and, targeted younger voters too.

But, the plan contained no serious statement on education and its role in supporting and facilitating informed understanding about our unsustainable behaviour and actions and its impact on the planetary systems, which sustain all life. All of this highlighted the destructive and shameful way that Michael Gove handled environmental issues in the School curriculum, when Secretary of State for Education. What form of leadership does this misplaced ideology convey to the younger generation and those that teach them?

Overall, I was pleased that Theresa May and Michael Gove have launched a national plan, but it needs to address some fundamental concerns about how our education system, can support the government’s serious and laudable objective of leaving the planet in a better place than it found it. It cannot and must not depend solely on what some have described as “toothless voluntarism”. There is a place for promoting some form of “collectivism” by schools, universities and colleges, but it needs a clear and unambiguous policy mandate that builds on the undoubted and deeply serious commitment of teachers and learners to a system-wide process that supports a more sustainable future for all.

............................................................

Steve Martin is Honorary Professor at the University of Worcester, Visiting Professor in Learning for Sustainability at the University of the West of England, President of the charity Change Agents UK, a WWF Fellow, Policy Advisor to the UK National Commission for UNESCO, and a founder member of the English Learning for Sustainability Alliance (ELSA).  He can be contacted at: esmartin@talktalk.net

 

 

 

The 25 YEEP?

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I wrote about the 25 Year Environment Plan – aka the 25 YEP – the other day, wondering whether there was within it – buried or otherwise – a 25 year environmental education plan, which I see is already being referred to as the 25 YEEP.

Well, as I've already noted, there are quite a lot of references to young people and schools, and even one mention of curriculum (in the scheme of work sense).  The Times highlighted this in its initial coverage:

Establish a £10 million nature-friendly schools programme to allow pupils to plant gardens, tend vegetable patches and set up bird feeders.

The plan also says this:

The new science and geography curriculum and qualifications encourage pupils to undertake fieldwork as part of their course of study.

Again, this is helpful, although 'encourage' is weak-kneed, and wasn't fieldwork once widespread?  Clearly, all this will lead to a lot of useful learning, but it is a pale imitation of the sort of environmental education that's needed if we are to face up to and deal with the myriad of issues that are captured by the sustainable development goals.  I see that these are similar points to those made by Justin Dillon the other day on the NAEE blog.

 

The 25 YEP

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The government has a 25 year plan to do something or other about nature – or was that the environment?  Distressingly, they describe this as the 25 YEP.

Mrs M (our Mrs M, of course), speaking at its launch, said that plan would deliver “clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all".   According to the Times, the main points are:

  • Introduce a requirement for new housing and infrastructure to result in “environmental net gain”.
  • Develop a new “nature recovery network” to create or restore about 1.2 million acres of wildlife-rich habitat outside existing protected areas, with opportunities to reintroduce species.
  • A review of protected areas which will assess whether more national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are needed.
  • A new Northern Forest stretching from Cheshire to Lancashire and Yorkshire; a million new urban trees and the appointment of a “national tree champion”.
  • Establish a £10 million nature-friendly schools programme to allow pupils to plant gardens, tend vegetable patches and set up bird feeders.
  • Eliminate avoidable plastic waste within 25 years, including by encouraging supermarkets to introduce “plastic-free” aisles and considering taxes and charges on single-use items such as takeaway containers.
  • Removing all consumer single-use plastics from the central government estate offices.
  • Extend the 5p charge for plastic carrier bags to all retailers in England, closing the government’s loophole excluding smaller shops.
  • Support water companies, retailers, coffee shops and transport hubs to offer new refill points for people to top-up water bottles free in every large city and town in England.
  • Set up an independent statutory body to hold government to account on the environment.
  • Create measures to assess progress on the 25-year goals and update the plan at least every five years.

However, according to its critics, all this amounts to not very much.  You can read, the ever-readable George Monbiot, for example: "A grand plan to do nothing".  GM begins in a sort-of even-handed way:

"In terms of rhetoric, the 25 Year Environment Plan is in some respects the best government document I’ve ever read. In terms of policy, it ranges from the pallid to the pathetic."

There's a lot of detail in his blog, but you'll have to read that for yourself.  This is how it ends:

"But anything positive that emerges from this plan will be undermined by the oxymoron at its heart: the vision of “clean growth” on which it is built.  We now know that the absolute decoupling of resource use from economic growth is an illusion, and even relative decoupling – consuming less per unit of growth – is slight and unreliable. The more an economy grows, the more resources it will consume.  If it’s not plastic, it will be cardboard, and the cardboard is likely to be made from chewed-up rainforest.  Clamp down on the use of cardboard, and something else will take its place.  An economy that keeps growing on a planet that does not will inevitably burst through environmental limits, however sincere a government might be about seeking to reduce its impacts.  The big conversation we need within government has still not begun. The plastic bottle has been kicked down the road."

That's a great closing sentence, but is the decoupling of resource use from economic growth really a complete illusion?  Is the cardboard I use really made from rainforests?  And you do need to ask where is the workable plan (over 25 years or whenever) for an economy that sustains and enhances human well-being without economic growth, in the face of human self-centredness.

As for me, I cannot see how the 25 YEP is really a plan, let alone a 25 year plan.  It doesn't seem to last for 25 years, and the goals are woolly:

Goal  –  Examples of existing indicators

  • Clean air – Emissions of key pollutants; number of high or moderate air pollution days; area of sensitive habitats with excessive levels of air pollution.
  • Clean and plentiful water – Water quality in rivers and lakes, bathing waters, and groundwater; inputs of hazardous substances to the marine environment.
  • Thriving plants and wildlife – Extent and condition of protected sites on land and at sea; status and trends of wild species and habitats.
  • Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards – Number of households better protected from flooding.
  • More sustainable and efficient use of resources – Area of sustainably managed and harvested woodland; fish stocks harvested within safe limits; amount of raw materials consumed per person and resource productivity.
  • Enhanced beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment – Area of woodland; people visiting the natural environment and volunteering for conservation activities.

See what I mean?  It does at least reference the SDGs.

Meanwhile, maybe nature has a much longer term plan to do something about humans, and is still biding its time.

 

Is there a 25 year plan for environmental education?

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The government has published its 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment.  Is it, I wondered, too much to hope that this is also a 25 year plan for environmental education?  As a start to thinking about this question, here's a list of how often education-related ideas are mentioned in the document:

Foreword from the Prime Minister – None

Foreword from the Secretary of State – None

Executive summary – None

Introduction: Our new approach to managing the environment

Page 16 – The poorer you are, the more likely it is that your house, and your children’s school and playground are close to highly-polluted roads, and the less likely you are to enjoy ready access to green spaces.  At present, children from minority ethnic backgrounds and lower income homes are the least likely to visit our countryside. This should change, so that everyone has the chance to benefit from getting close to nature and appreciating all it has to offer. In turn, they will want to protect and enhance the world around them.

Page 17 – Over the next 25 years we must safeguard the environment for this generation and many more to come. We plant trees knowing that it will not be us, but our children and grandchildren, who get to enjoy their shade. In the same way, we should take a long view of how our stewardship today can lead to a healthier and culturally richer planet tomorrow.

Chapter 1: Using and managing land sustainably – None

Chapter 2: Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes

Page 66 – Actions we will take include ... Working with National Park Authorities to continue to deliver the 8-Point Plan for National Parks 2016-2020. National Park Authorities have already met the target to engage directly with over 60,000 young people a year in schools’ visits, and will double this figure.

Chapter 3: Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing

Page 71 – We will ... Encourage children to be close to nature, in and out of school, with particular focus on disadvantaged areas.  Make 2019 a year of action for the environment, working with Step Up To Serve and other partners to help children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment.

A number of outdoor sports and leisure organisations, green space managers, environmental organisations and schools encourage people to participate in activities in green spaces.  The forest school approach encourages children to explore nature and have a relationship with the outdoors. The new science and geography curriculum and qualifications encourage pupils to undertake fieldwork as part of their course of study.

Page 72 Farms in both rural and urban locations host groups of school children and share their knowledge about the environment and where food comes from. ... The number of people who spend little or no time in natural spaces is too high.  Recent data from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment survey tells us that some 12% of children do not visit the natural environment each year. ... In healthcare and school settings, and despite some excellent examples of pioneering practice, the possible benefits of contact with nature to promote good mental health or support early interventions for mental health problems are often overlooked.  Care farms are working farms that provide health, social or educational care services for individuals from one or a range of vulnerable groups.

Page 73 – Through existing commitments made in Sporting Future – a New Strategy for an Active Nation, and in line with our ambition to reduce childhood obesity, the Government supports programmes that encourage physical activity, including in outdoor settings. ... We will scope out how we could connect people more systematically with green space to improve mental health, using the natural environment as a resource for preventative and therapeutic purposes.  This will be in line with the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health and support the Government’s new commitments on children’s mental health.

Page 74 – We will launch a three-year ‘Natural Environment for Health and Wellbeing’ programme, focused on supporting local authorities, health organisations, health professionals, teachers and planners in promoting the natural environment as a pathway to good health and wellbeing.  Mental health problems and early interventions will be an initial area of interest, however the programme will be charged with considering other health issues, such as obesity, where children and adults would benefit from better access to nature.

Page 75 – Encouraging children to be close to nature, in and out of school.  Playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood, and helps children grow up healthy.  Playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood, and helps children grow up healthy. Some children are lucky enough to have a family garden; others will not and it is important that we find other ways to give them better access to the great outdoors. We know that regular contact with green spaces, such as the local park, lake, or playground, can have a beneficial impact on children’s physical and mental health.  The initiatives we outline below are designed to encourage and support outdoor activities, particularly where a child has no access to a family garden. Government will make available £10m of funding to support these initiatives.

Helping primary schools create nature-friendly grounds.  We will launch a Nature Friendly Schools Programme to help more communities create the kind of school grounds that support learning about the natural world and also keep children happy and healthy.  The government will provide support for schools in our most disadvantaged areas that wish to create nature friendly grounds and to design and run activities that support pupil’s health and wellbeing through contact with nature.  Actions we will take include developing a Nature Friendly Schools programme for schools in our most disadvantaged areas with input from stakeholders that can be opened to schools from autumn 2018.

Page 76 – Supporting more pupil contact with local natural spaces.  We want to make it easier for schools and Pupil Referral Units to take pupils on trips to natural spaces on a regular basis where they can combine learning with feeling healthier and happier. This might involve class visits to a city farm, a local nature reserve, woodland or National Park.  In cases of individual need, a pupil might go to a care farm on a bespoke itinerary.

Actions we will take include: Developing a programme to support schools and Pupil Referral Units in our most disadvantaged areas in establishing progressive programmes of nature contact for their pupils, which can be opened to schools from autumn 2019; Supporting the expansion of school outreach activities delivered by community forests. Supporting a national expansion of care farming by 2022, trebling the number of places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England.

Page 79 – [the] award winning ‘Nature4Health’ programme encourages local communities at risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, obesity or depression, to get out into the Forest through conservation activities, mindful walking and forest schools, significantly improving their physical and mental health.

Page 80 – Our goal is to see more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world. We will make 2019 a year of action for the environment, putting children and young people at its heart. This year of green action will provide a focal-point for organisations that run environmental projects, and will encourage wider participation.

Evidence suggests that while many people are already keen to get out there and help the environment, we should aim for many more to do so.  Among younger people alone, and across all kinds of social action, the government-funded National Youth Social Action survey of 2016, found that in a group of 10-20 year olds, 42% of young people participated in meaningful social action, whilst another 42% took no part in social action.

Helping children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment.  Working with Step Up to Serve, #iwill campaign partners, and other youth and environmental partners, we will develop an environment theme for the #iwill campaign in 2019 ... .

Page 81 – We will work with partners from the environmental and youth sectors to promote environmental opportunities that attract young people from all backgrounds.  As part of this, we will work with the National Citizen Service (NCS) Trust, to enable more participants to have contact with and improve natural environments both during the NCS experience and afterwards.  We will engage young people in the design of this programme. Legacy partnerships will sustain opportunities for young people to engage with the environment into the future.

Actions we will take include: [i] In partnership with Step Up to Serve, supporting the 2019 #iwill environment-themed year, with design input from young people; [ii] Evaluating progress in increasing young people’s environmental social action, including #iwill campaign activity in 2019, and sharing lessons to sustain good practice; At the same time, exploring with youth sector partners the potential for piloting a natural environment programme with youth groups that encourages use of natural environments through social action.  This would aim to reach more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Page 82 – Supporting the 2019 year of green action.  Government will build on the 70th anniversary of National Parks and the centenary of the Forestry Commission and #iwill campaign activities in 2019 to encourage adults and children to take positive steps to help the natural environment.  We will focus on the simple things that people can do, and how these also support good health.

A series of public engagement activities for 2019 will link to initiatives on waste reduction, cleaner air or other aspects of pro-environmental behaviour. We will look to get the business community and voluntary sectors involved in these activities, and urge them, with the education sector, to develop their own initiatives throughout the year to engage communities and raise awareness.

Chapter 4: Increasing resource efficiency and reducing pollution and waste

Page 91 – The Litter Strategy for England sets out our aim to clean up the country and cut both litter and littering behaviours by means of better education, enforcement and ‘binfrastructure’ (the design, number and location of public litter bins and so on).  We will deliver a new national anti-litter campaign and work on developing a culture that teaches young people not to litter.

Page 94 – ... waste fires can cause significant disruption to roads, railways and schools, making lives a misery.

Chapter 5: Securing clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans – None

Chapter 6: Protecting and improving our global environment

Page 113 – We are also committed to protected cultural and natural heritage around the world. The UK’s heritage organisations deliver education, training, consultancy, conservation and renovation programmes to many parts of the globe.  Many heritage professionals and practitioners from other countries come to the UK each year to develop their skills, learn about heritage protection and management in the UK, and benefit from the knowledge of our heritage sector.

Putting the Plan into practice

Page 147 – The RSPB joined forces with Barratt Developments to set a new benchmark for nature friendly housing developments – the first national agreement of its kind in the UK.  At Kingsbrook, some 2,450 new homes, new schools and community facilities have been designed in a way that puts nature at the heart of proposals. ...  Aylesbury Vale District Council has been instrumental in promoting this approach from the start and are now looking to adopt these principles in planning their garden town.  This is good for people and business as well as wildlife.  Barratt expects the value and saleability of its homes to be improved by the quality of greenspace and there is evidence that local businesses can also be boosted by a green setting.  For the community, greenspace can improve children’s educational prospects and their connection to nature, and contribute to improved mental and physical health and wellbeing.  The Kingsbrook project will be carried out over about a decade with a comprehensive monitoring programme, developed and overseen by RSPB scientists.

Page 149 – Business in the Community works to create healthy communities with successful business at their heart.  As well as their Landscape Enterprise Network initiative referenced above, BITC’s Water Resilient Cities programme has been working with schools and NHS sites in Manchester to explore an innovative way of financing the retrofitting of sustainable drainage features (SuDS – e.g. green roofs and rain gardens).  A scoping study has identified benefits from a strategic roll out of SuDS in public estates across Greater Manchester, having investigated the time taken to pay back the upfront capital costs through savings made from reduced surface water charges in the schools’ water bills.  The SuDS measures would bring benefits to the schools and wider communities in the form of air and water quality, flood risk reduction, education, health, carbon sequestration, urban cooling and biodiversity.  More information is available on the BITC website.

Re-Questing for Holism

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I see that one of my papers (with Andrew Stables): The Quest for Holism in Education for Sustainable Development is being included in: Environmental and Sustainability Education Policy: International Trends, Priorities and Challenges, edited by Katrien Van Poeck, Jonas A. Lysgaard, and Alan Reid, and published by Routledge.

The blurb begins:

"This timely collection surveys and critiques studies of environmental and sustainability education (ESE) policy since the mid-1990s. The volume draws on a wide range of policy studies and syntheses to provide readers with insights into the international genealogy and priorities of ESE policy.  Editors and contributors call for renewed attention to the possibilities for future directions in light of previously published work and innovations in scholarship.  They also offer critical commentary on the evolution of research trends, approaches and findings. ...`'

As ever, it's nice to have made the cut.  The full set of past papers is:

1. The roots and routes of environmental and sustainability education policy research    Jonas A. Lysgaard, Alan Reid and Katrien Van Poeck

2. A Case Study of Dilemmas and Tensions: the writing and consultation process involved in developing a national guideline document for environmental education    Barry Law and Robyn Baker

3. Science: an unreliable friend to environmental education?    Martin Ashley

4. On the need to repoliticise environmental and sustainability education: rethinking the postpolitical consensus    Louise Sund and Johan Öhman

5. Education policy mobility: reimagining sustainability in neoliberal times    Marcia McKenzie, Andrew Bieler and Rebecca McNeil

6. The Quest for Holism in Education for Sustainable Development    Andrew Stables and William Scott

7. Tensions and transitions in policy discourse: recontextualizing a decontextualized EE/ESD debate    Robert B. Stevenson

8. Unsettling orthodoxies: education for the environment/for sustainability    Jo-Anne Ferreira

9. Education for sustainable development (ESD): the turn away from ‘environment’ in environmental education?    Helen Kopnina

10. Environmental Literacy: functional, cultural, critical. The case of the SCAA guidelines    Andrew Stables

11. Education for Sustainable Development, governmentality and Learning to Last    John Blewitt

12. The action competence approach and the ‘new’ discourses of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria    Finn Mogensen and Karsten Schnack

13. Pluralism in practice – experiences from Swedish evaluation, school development and research    Karin Rudsberg and Johan Öhman

14. Environmental education policy research – challenges and ways research might cope with them    Jeppe Læssøe, Noah Weeth Feinstein and Nicole Blum

15. Taking stock of the UN Decade of education for sustainable development: the policy-making process in Flanders    Katrien Van Poeck, Joke Vandenabeele and Hans Bruyninckx

16. Globalisation and education for sustainable development: exploring the global in motion    Stefan L. Bengtsson and Leif O. Östman

17. Environmental and sustainability education policy research: a systematic review of methodological and thematic trends    Kathleen Aikens, Marcia McKenzie and Philip Vaughter

As it happens, The Quest for Holism is one of my most cited papers, though not amongst the few I'd most prefer to be most cited.

 

When a tiger tried to walk home

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The Christmas edition of The Economist had a long feature – A tiger's tale  – on the plight of the tiger in India today.  It focused on a 5-year old male – known as T3 to its minders – that, in 2009, was shipped from the Pench tiger reserve to the Panna reserve some 650 km to the north.  Finding things not much to its liking, T3 promptly broke out and set off to walk home.  The article tells the story of the month-long pursuit of T3 by 70 men and 5 elephants.  The story had a positive outcome as far as T3 and the Panna are concerned (and the elephants and humans), but the wider story about the tiger's future in India is clearly less positive as the article's ending illustrates:

"... Panna remains both fortified and fragile.  India’s human population is still growing, the trade in tiger parts persists.  The long-term survival of tigers lies in aligning their interests with an improvement of local people’s lives—of being a sight people believe is worth seeing, and which people will come to look at when they can.

For such magnificence to depend for its future on being instagrammable seems to offend against dignity.  But what else is there? The obsessively monitored fortresses cannot last forever, and they are hardly the natural habitats they were once believed to be.  There will always be wildness in the ways of animals—in what they choose, unbidden, to pursue.  But to seek the natural, in India as elsewhere, must also be to accept that the world of the wild is shared with, and shaped by, humans; to be a human who loves nature is to try and make that sharing work.  The idea of powerful creatures in the vast untouched wilderness has a sublime thrill to it.  It also has a certain cosiness; it is the imaginary ideal where many human ideas about nature grew up.  But as T3 discovered after he swam across the Ken, you really can’t go home again. “The old world is gone, ... We cannot bring it back.”

This article has rich detail and is the sort of thing that needs to be read by anyone who wants to understand what (if anything) might realistically be done about conservation where human development conflicts with the wild.  It might have been written specifically about India and the tiger, but it has applicability much more widely.