heila lotz-sisitka: creating a sustainable society

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  • 1. Ibis Seminar, Copenhagen 2009 Can we create a sustainable society through education?-individual and society - Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University, South Africa

2. Makana Municipality 3. A broad history of [changing] education purposes

  • Education and the industrial revolution and the modernisation process (17 th -21 stcentury):Education for economic development
  • Education and the expansion of democracy and human rights (19 th-21 stcentury):Education for All
  • Education in an era where lifestyles are outstripping the earths carrying capacity and its ability to provide for equitable needs/wants and to store waste (late 20 th/ 21 stcentury):Education for Sustainable Development

4. What are we aiming at when we talk about a sustainable society?>Equity >Prosperity Sharing >EcologicalIntegrity 5. Ecological Footprint (gha per person) HDI EDUCATION ? Sustainable development creates different challenges in different places 6. This is wherewe all teach and learn do we have a sustainable society/ies in this place? 7. Source: Elmqvist, 2008 Human progress and inequality 20/80 dilemma Ecosystems 60 % loss dilemma Climate 550/450/350 dilemma Surprise 99/1 dilemma The QuadrupleSqueeze What does it mean for education? 8. education of individuals?A politics of rights 9. or education of communities? a politics of the common good? 10. Individual vs society communitarian tyranny determinismrational man voluntarismIts all about individual choice and rightsIts the individuals right to have what they want Its the individuals fault Switch off the lights!Youare causing climate change ! Its all aboutthe groupAll choices are subordinate to the group authority / culture Its societys fault, individuals can do nothing to change the status quo Its the fault ofthe system ! 11. Individuals-in-society

  • Individuals are shaped by society and culture, but theycanact to change things
  • Education can strengthen individuals abilities to choose and act for the common good


  • One understands ones life by looking at ones actions within a story, a narrative(MacIntyre)
  • But narratives converge, and new stories, cultures and practices are created
  • Individuals-in-communities
  • Individuals-in-society

13. two stories of individuals-in-society The water monitoring learnersThe waste monitoring learners 14. Story 1: The water learners

  • Participatory
  • Socially critical
  • Deconstruction(they couldresearch and identify and describe the problem)
  • But they got stuck participation only went as far as describing and reporting the problem. After that they waited and waited and waited they are still waiting

15. Story 2: The waste learners

  • Participatory
  • Socially critical
  • Deconstruction (they couldresearch and identify the problem)
  • Re-constructionandreimagination(they worked together and creatively with others on co-defined solutions) . They are not waitingaround so much!

16. Can practice centred education contribute to re-imagining a sustainable society?Dialogic an orchestrated interplay . a matter of co-productionFrom Footprints to Hand printsParticipation in seeking out creative alternatives 17. food gardening sequestering carbon eating healthyre-using wastebiochar soil quality saving water Rob ODonoghue Rhodes University Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit 18.

  • The turn to practices seems to be tied to an interest in the everyday and life-world with those identified with practice theory being influenced by the interpretative or cultural turn in social theory
  • It focuses on everyday practices as being the source of intelligibility Practice comes first, and knowledge of the world makes sense in relation to practices (new or old) i.e. give meaning
  • The field of practice is the place to investigate such phenomena such as agency, knowledge, language, ethics, power and science


  • Practice involves engaged agency
  • understanding the human agent as engaged, as embedded in a culture, a form of life, a world of involvements which ultimately is to understand the agent as embodied, as inextricably implicated in the lifeworld(Taylor, 1995, pp. 61-62)
  • Is this how we think of learners in our classrooms?

20. an integrative concept for education

  • Practice brings together bodilyandmental activity it ispurposive and rational,but alsoembodied and situated
  • Linkages:
    • 1) understandings of what is going on and what to say and do
    • 2) explicit rules, principles, precepts, and instructions- historical, cultural and material
    • 3) purposes, beliefs, emotions, values, visions, ends, emotions and moods

21. Can we develop practice-centred learning tore-imagine and reconstruct our societies? there are so many stories to be part of -Disrupting unsustainable practices and creatingnew more sustainable practicesis our story yours and mine because we share a planetWhat do we share? What is different? 22. Thank youIndividuals-in-society, learning togetherhow make choices, and how to build new, more equitable, sustainablepractices can make a difference- we have seen that already -Educationcancontribute to a sustainable future - it is an important part of a bigger story of ongoing social change


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