• Ecopedagogy
  • What is Ecopedagogy? Ecopedagogy is a discourse, a movement, and an approach to education that has emerged from leftist educators in Central and South...

2014-01-20 16.46.00What 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

About Us

The Practicing Freedom Collective supports communities to generate and enact their own solutions while strengthening their relationships through Popular Education practices. We amplify the liberatory, participatory and humanizing potential of programs, schools, campaigns, organizations and businesses working to create systemic social and cultural change. We believe that if we want our institutions, and political and economic systems to be participatory and democratic, then each step of the process to transform them should be participatory and democratic as well.

Upcoming Events

PAR - T! A celebration of Participatory Action Research for practioners and "the PAR curious" alike. Date TBD. Please contact us if you'd like to be involved.

Theater of the Oppressed 6 week spring series. For seasoned TO practitioners as well as folks totally new to this work. Date and location still being confirmed

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