Confronting Despair in an Age of Denial – with Joanna Macy

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This is a blog about strong emotions and how these impact our actions. I was inspired to write it by my encounter with ecopsychologist, Buddhist scholar and activist Joanna Macy – a woman who has pioneered working with despair since the 1970s. Despair in this blog will refer to a combination of feelings including grief, anger, powerlessness and fear. Continue reading

Lessons from Feminism for Environmental Education

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Endeavors to create conditions that will develop an awareness of context, political consciousness and the potential for social action have a long history in adult education. The remarkable shifts in women’s rights in the late twentieth century were the results of over a century’s worth of struggle by feminists, a struggle that became institutionalised in universities in the 1970s with the emergence of women’s studies. This radical education transformed the daily lives and political realities of thousands of women. 

In a 1975 American nation-wide study of women’s education Jack Mezirow identified ten phases often encountered during consciousness-raising process within women’s education and developed the theory and practice of transformative learning. Transformative learning has now been developed into a practice that helps learners critically examine assumptions and as well as develop social capacities to put new perspectives into practice. This practice is a powerful tool with the potential to help learners cross the infamous value / action gap in environmental education. I recently presented a slideshow on transformative learning at the Design Research Society’s SkinDeep 2011 conference on experiential knowledge and multi-sensory communication. Continue reading