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keywords: humans, nature, education, sustainability

Anglo-American Humans and Nature Forum

Inaugural meeting, Oxford University, 13-14 May 2002

I attended the recent 'Anglo-American Humans and Nature Forum'. This gathering focused on a key question: ‘How can education contribute to a society which interacts more sustainably with nature?’

My input to the Forum:

1 Position point:

a) For society to be more sustainable we need to educate people with core values that respect our human relationship with nature.
b) Environmental philosophy can identify these core values on an intellectual level, but I believe that these core values need to become embodied knowledge to be effective.
c) This means that these core values need to be taught using an embodied methodology that is yet to be fully defined.

2 The most important issues for this Forum:

a) What are the core values that would encourage society to interact more sustainably with nature. What is it we want our educational system to teach? This falls somewhere between two of the broad themes suggested in the programme:

  • Interactions between humans and nature
  • Values associated with nature

b) What is the most effective mechanism for communicating these core values within our educational system?

To be effective, I believe that these core values must be held as embodied knowledge. This demands a teaching strategy that honours the experiential and sensual; learning that speaks to the body as well as the mind.

The Discussion

I worked with a discussion group on 'Changing the Myth'. The argument I pursued focused on:

  • embodied knowledge;
  • encouraging a culture that honours the experiential and sensual, that speaks to the body as well as the mind;
  • shifting our culture from one that seeks joy in consumption to one which finds joy in self-realisation;
  • shifting from a culture which distrusts sensuality, the body and nature to one which celebrates them.

A full report on the Forum will be published shortly.

related links: Sacred Ecology
External links
Environmental Change Institute
The Hastings Center

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