In 2007, at WEEC in Durban, I was asked to speak about environmental education research since Tbilisi, to explore what we might learn from this work, and look ahead to the challenges that then faced us as a community engaged in doing, and using, research. I ended my talk like this:
We need to escape from our isolation, to work and communicate with others, and persuade them that what we do is important. But what do we have to offer them? What can we say to policy-makers and practitioners – and the public – about what we’ve been doing these last 30 years and might now do that will help address our global needs? What aspects of our range of research would we point to?
Over the last few weeks I’ve been asking this question:
Given all the difficulties the world now faces in relation to development and the environment – and the importance of education in addressing such challenges – what insights does environmental education research provide that will help us?
And it’s a question that’s disturbingly difficult to respond to in a satisfactory fashion, which is why I’m presenting here, rather than answering it myself with any degree of confidence. I do wonder how you would respond. I’m also setting it out here because I think it’s a question we might ask of ourselves. Coincidently, the 30th June edition of the UK Times Higher Education Supplement carried a related story by Richard Rose, an expert on conflict and divided societies. He, and a few others, were invited to talk with President Bush about this sort of question. The focus was Iraq, of course, and what might be done now. Rose had three minutes to make his points, choosing to do so in, as he put it: “hard-hitting one-liners, rather than in the indirect discourse of mandarin English”.
What would we say if our President or Prime Minister gave us three minutes to address this question, and make our points? What would you say?
Here's a challenge, then, for those organising WEEC 9: Ask some prominent people what they would say, either from the perspective of their own work, or from that viewed more widely, in response to this question:
Given all the difficulties the world now faces in relation to development and the environment – and the importance of education in addressing such challenges – what insights does your work provide that will help us?
3 minutes – that's about 300 words.
Hard-hitting one-liners – that's not how you usually write and speak.