Politics and the political in environmental and sustainability education: A construction of an analytical model
(English)In: Environmental Education Research, ISSN 1350-4622, E-ISSN 1469-5871Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Researchers in environmental sustainability education (ESE) play a central role in the political dimension that pluralism gives rise to. This includes the increasing theoretical tendency to view conflicts as ontological in a pluralistic democracy. Curiously, though the political dimension of educational processes has been theorized in ESE, empirical studies are still unusual. The aim of this article is, through theoretical, methodological and empirical work, to construct an analytical model to generate empirical knowledge about politics and the political – where students’ deal with conflicts, decision, inclusion and exclusion - in teaching and learning activities. This article recounts a combined empirical and philosophical study of the political dimension in ESE practice. The empirical material consists of a video recorded lesson and attempts to understand why some of the students did not raise their voices to express their disagreements, even though they clearly express disagreements in a written survey after the same lesson. This contradictory pictures has rarely been discussed in ESE research literature. It is crucial to reflect on whether face-to-face relations tamp down conflicts and if the students consequently do not become educated in or involved in the political dimension of environmental and sustainable issues. This concern is addressed using Chantal Mouffe’s theory of the political and a pragmatist theory of emotions and meaning-making, particularly by John Dewey. Introducing a didactical analytical model of political moments allows us to identify when a moment occurs as political. This model also allows us to study the anatomy of a political moment: first, we never start from scratch, meaning that we experience things that we discover as valuable and to which we feel committed; second, the moment is one that demands a judgment between incompatible alternatives; and third, the moment require a decision between conflicting ends of a kind that will determine or re-determine some amount of previously assumed solidarity and communality, i. e. our social relations. These moments occur when students suddenly experience undecidability in a situation that requires a decision, which inevitably leads to an act of inclusion and exclusion. In other words, the political becomes embodied in a practice of politics in a given context. This may include not only a new appreciation for commitments as part of the political dimension but also invite a way of learning from experiencing political moment in terms of undecidability and antagonism. With these ideas in mind, we suggest that the political dimension can become the source of new understandings, particularly that politics inevitably is an act of inclusion and exclusion.
Environmental and sustainability education, political, Mouffe
Research subject Curriculum Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-293440OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-293440DiVA: diva2:927734