What is Ecopedagogy?
Ecopedagogy is a discourse, a movement, and an approach to education that has emerged from leftist educators in Central and South America including Paulo Freire, Moacir Gadotti and Leonardo Boff that seeks to re-educate “planetary citizens” to care for, respect and take action for all life. How can we, as citizens of the planet, participate in the creation of a world that we want instead of simply observing those who are profiting off of extraction and exploitation create our world for us? What does an education look like that can encourage people to face what is happening, take responsibility for ourselves and work to create healthy, vibrant resilient communities that serve everyone, no one excluded. What kind of education is really relevant today, given our current social and ecological crisis? How is traditional environmental education not relevant? These are some of the questions that are asked by ecopedagogy, which it attempts respond to.
Ecopedagogy for educators and activists: In this highly interactive workshop we will explore key concepts including Post Issue Activism, Planetary Citizenship, Arts Education/ Arts Activism, Care, Ecological Justice, Praxis, Vision and Strategy, Sustainability and Resiliency. We will also provide tools for designing a relevant curriculum, problemetizing environmental education, and integrating ecological justice, love, care, respect, and creativity into every aspect of your classroom or training.
Okay, but what is it really?
As a movement and an approach to education, Ecopedagogy is alive; it is open and fluid to be defined by its practitioners who engage critically with it. In this way it remains continuously relevant. There are however, some basic principles outlined in the Ecopedagogy Charter, which have been elaborated and interpreted by subsequent works. Some of these principles include;
- Popular Education: Ecopedagogy is an extension of Paulo Freire’s seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Many of the concepts of power and oppression are expanded to include the non-human world as oppressed as well. As a heir of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Ecopedagogy is grounded in popular education in which power is shared, participatory dialogue is the key methodology, learning leads to action, and learning starts from and responds to the learner’s lived experiences.
- Post-Issue activism: Issues of social and economic justice, democracy and ecologal integrity intersect and are interdependent. Ultimately none of them are possible without all of them intact. Educators can choose which ever issue their learners are most personally connected with however as an “entry point” or location to start from to then move towards an integrated understanding of the others.
- Planetary Citizenship: Our lived reality is becoming globalized, we should globalize our sense of community, responsibilities and our commitments as well.
- Art Education: Ecopedagogy encourages people to develop the capacity to feel, intuit, imagine, create, relate, and express themselves. In this way we move from object to subject, able to participate in articulating and creating the world we want. This implies that the multiple languages/ intelligences of theatre, music, visual art, photography, dance etc. are fundamental to engage with as tools of expression and creation in the educational project.
- Care: Dis-care of each other and of the planet has contributed to our current planetary crisis. Care can “conjure the strength to search for peace in the midsts of conflict”, “rescue the dignity of the condemned” and “permit a revolution of tenderness to prioritize the social over the individual.” ~Leonardo Boff, “Saber Cuidar”.
A note on the history of Ecopedagogy: Paulo Freire, Moacir Gadotti and Francisco Gutierrez were having lunch in Sao Paulo Brazil one day in the late 1990’s and came up with the word and basic concept of Ecopedagogy. Along with organizing the International Meeting, “The Earth Charter in an Educational Perspective”, all three of them then set out to write books on the subject. Gadotti wrote “Pedagogy of the Earth” Gutierrez wrote “Ecopedagogy and Planetary Citizenship” Freire however passed before he was able to write another book. Since then Leonardo Boff of the Liberation Theology movement and multiple others have joined them in Latin America to form what has become an Ecopedagogy movement, based out of the Paulo Freire Institute in Brazil. There are currently 3 Ecopedagogy centers in Brazil, one in Costa Rica and multiple articles, practices and resources in Spanish and Portuguese on the internet. Recently Richard Kahn published the first book in English on Ecopedagogy: Critical Pedagogy, Ecoliteracy, and Planetary Crisis: The Ecopedagogy Movement (Peter Lang, Jan. 2010)
“Unless and until we have assigned meaning to our experience of our place, the earth, our bodies, the world as holy- we cast meaning outside of ourselves to “the closest and shiniest thing” Modern reference point for meaning and identity is consistently placed onto external authority, the media and fads, instead of from within. We need fellowship and communion- we are given a grafted version of “common experience”- but this does not offer relationship with the earth or communities.” ~ Frank MacEowen
Coming upUPCOMING EVENTS
Currently none scheduled
April 28, 6:30 PM PRESENTATION: Action Research Community Reception and Recognition, AERA conference. In the Grand Ballroom East, Grand Hyatt, San Francisco
Oct 6,7 WORKSHOP: Theater of the Oppressed 101 at the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. A follow up to Popular Education 101.
May 16,23 WORKSHOP: Participatory Action Research for educators and organizers at the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. Registration is open here: www.politicaleducation.org
June 3 WORKSHOP: From Forum to Action; Participatory Action Research grounded in Theater of the Oppressed At the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference, Berkeley. Register here: http://www.ptoweb.org/
dates tbd, 11:00-5:00 April 28-31 WORKSHOP: "Practices in Youth-Led and Theater-Based Participatory Action Research" & PRESENTATION: Youth-Led Action Research to Heal the Streets 9th Annual Action Research Conference at the UCSD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences San Diego, CA
March 28-31 WORKSHOP: "Exploring the Intersections of Whiteness and Femaleness" White Privilege Conference Albuquerque, NM
Feb 21, 6:00-9:00pm White Noise Dialogue to explore why so many people socialized as white and female are in helping professions. San Francisco.
Feb 27 & March 3, 11:00-5:00 WORKSHOP: Popular Education 101: Theories and Practices for organizers. At the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. A remixed and re-offered version of Paulo Freire 101 offered last Spring.
Oct 15, 10:30-12:00 Neighborhood Safety Summit, Laney College, Oakland. Last year's Heal the Streets youth fellows and OPD officers will talk about their mistrust of each other, and what to do about it.
Oct 18, 6:00-9:00 White Noise monthly dialogue, San Francisco. People socialized as both white and female talk about Cultural Appropriation www.conspireforchange.org
July 21 Chicago, IL, PTO conference Workshop: Harvesting Knowledge for Collective Action: Youth-Led Participatory Action Research at the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference
July 23, 24, 30, 31 @ 4pm San Juan Bautista, El Teatro Campesino Free Performance: Popol Vuh, Heart of Heaven
August 4-7, 2011 Portland, OR, Aero Conference 2 Workshops: Participatory Theater for Educators & Youth-Adult Partnerships: Practicing Youth-Led Participatory Action Research
September 3, 4, 5 @ 1pm San Juan Bautista, El Teatro Campesino Free Performance:Popol Vuh: Heart of Heaven, Seven Macaw & the Magic Twins