Tuesday saw a slightly later start for the group, but with good reason; to accommodate two expert speakers on the subject of Education for Sustainable Development.
Dr. Fritz Reusswig works as a sociologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
He shared with us his thoughts on how changes in society have seen care for the environment move from a requirement – to look after the earth because in return, it will look after you – to a lifestyle disconnected from it.
This process of liberalisation, whilst outwardly seen as only of benefit, is clearly harmful when thought about from an environmental perspective. The environment, in the short term, can be disregarded and no immediate impacts will be noticeable.
He goes on to say that Climate Change, perhaps, could be viewed as a good opportunity for society to rethink its close bonds with commercial interests and aspirations, and to instead revert back to a more simple and natural idea of ‘good life.’
Lunch was followed by a lecture by Arjen Wals, a Professor of Social Learning & Sustainable Development at Wageningen University. He began by impressing on the audience the sense of urgency related to Environmental Education and action – 60,000 bags are disposed of every 5 seconds in the U.S. alone.
The importance of real action, rather than a ‘greenwash’ of activities was highlighted; he explained changes should be focused on doing different things, rather than the same thing with a green twist.
And Education alone is not enough either. It is a widely accepted fact that those who are most educated are the ones using the largest carbon footprint. The type of education is equally as important as the amount, as ‘to know’ does not directly equate to ‘to do.’
Mobile Phones were used as an example item of how society has detached itself from the earth, and uses it in such an unsustainable way. The components of phones are mined and imported from all over the world, often using the products of unsustainable mining practices. They are disposed of at a rate of 1.5million per day, and detach people from the immediate world around them, taking less care and notice of what they really have.
All in all, two very interesting presentations. The participants involved themselves fully in the talks, asking questions, making comments, and formulating ideas for their future learning, inspired by the lectures. For example, films such as ‘Plastic Planet’ were suggested off the back of seeing images of masses of plastic collecting in the Pacific Ocean.
Reference websites such as http://www.transformativelearning.nl should be consulted for more information.