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Participatory Session: Degrowth dialogues with students: Moving talk to action

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Overview: Participants will examine degrowth, environmental justice and climate change issues, learning ways to integrate the complexity of the issues within the classroom and in an array of disciplinary practice fields, such as work with environmental migrants, food insecure populations and learning to grow food for oneself. Multiple channels for integrating this material will be explored. We are interested in seeking ways to empower students for action. We will explore questions such as “what does degrowth mean for students in the context of a globalized world?” and “How do students see themselves fitting into a movement of change that incorporates a way living within a degrowth model?” Dialogues on pedagogical approaches utilized in our courses will be the starting point for this participatory session with the intent of opening the session up to fellow participants to share their approaches to praxis as it relates to degrowth. Drawing from the expertise and experiences of the conference’s international participants this participatory session will provide a unique opportunity to expand the dialogue to applied education and practice. We invite participants to add to the session by sharing their lessons learned with respect to culture, power and change.

Learning Objective(s):

1. Participants will recognize curriculum development opportunities for integrating degrowth, environmental justice and climate change content across coursework, including field education.
2. Participants will identify the key terms and concepts surrounding degrowth, environmental justice and climate change issues from social justice and human rights perspectives.
3. Participants will discuss local and global examples that create opportunities to empower students for action in the classroom, field settings, and in community engagement.

Proposal Text:

Educators of Applied Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Social Work, and other disciplines, along with practitioners, have important roles to play in creating social responses to the environmental crisis. Indeed, we have become leaders in developing and sustaining environmental justice as it upholds the health and safety of the environment and the community. The new question for those engaged in dialogues of degrowth is how to operationalize it in the contemporary world with real world issues.

Educators working in the applied social sciences are hearing the call to address the environmental crisis and environmental justice concerns as part of their curriculum. However, many are unsure how to make these transformations to their curricular approach through planning, delivery, and meeting students’ needs. The purpose of this session is to move education from talk to action, going beyond dialogues of degrowth theory and fostering a behavior change as it relates to the concepts of environmental justice and the linkages between the ecological environment, social and economic justice, physical and mental health, and community. This session will be facilitated by an applied cultural anthropologist and a social work educator with extensive experience in integrating ecological issues across the curriculum from the micro to the macro, policy to community, research to implementation, and field application.

As defined within the context of the CSWE EPAS, “Environmental justice occurs when all people equally experience high levels of environmental protection and no group or community is excluded from the environmental policy decision-making process, nor is affected by a disproportionate impact from environmental hazards. Environmental justice affirms the ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, respect for cultural and biological diversity, and the right to be free from ecological destruction. This includes responsible use of ecological resources, including the land, water, air, and food. (Adapted from CSWE Commission for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice and Commission on Global Social Work Education Committee on Environmental Justice, 2015).” (2015 EPAS Glossary)

Our approach recognizes that while environmental issues are often discussed and perceived as a distant and international purview, this crisis has local ramifications which are particularly relevant when viewing it from a systems perspective (Lorenzoni & Pidgeon, 2006; Spence, Poortinga, & Pidgeon, 2012). One way to engage students in degrowth is to underscore the local relevance and presence of environmental injustice and climate change.

This participatory session will explore the challenge of getting students to recognize and embrace the importance of the factors: culture, power and change. We will explore how these factors impact ways of living as individuals, as part of a household, as members of a community and as a global citizen. This session will provide an opportunity for participants to exchange approaches, ideas and challenges they face when incorporating local, hands-on experiences to engage students as they identify environmental justice and climate justice concerns that are in their own communities. We will also collectively discuss ways to promote students’ consideration of degrowth as both a theoretical framework, and as a transformation of their way of being and engaging with the political, economic, environmental and cultural aspects at local, state, regional and international levels. Here are a few examples to illustrate ways in which students are engaging with climate change and environmental issues through hands-on experiences, in and outside of the classroom: localizing food sources by learning to grow one’s own food, supporting local farmers markets and volunteering at local food banks, and enjoying ecotherapy activities. They have done these on campus and in the community, such as working in the campus garden (e.g., weeding, digging, harvesting, sharing food), repotting plants, taking trail walks, making meals with vegetables, and making herbal tea infusions.
Participants will gain knowledge in content areas including environmental justice and climate change through a framework where the rights of all in the ecosystem can sustainably co-exist and every being has the right to water, land, air, and food (International Federation of Social Workers, 2016). We will present coursework and field education that have integrated environmental justice content across the curricula, including content from practice, research, policy, human behavior, and other courses. Our concrete examples will demonstrate how participants can integrate degrowth to environmental justice and climate justice, drawing on a systems perspective. The immediacy and immensity of the issues will be underscored as we draw on current examples, both local and global.

Participants may want to bring course syllabi to share ideas of how they foster student engagement. The participatory session will be tailored to the participants’ needs based on those who sign up and the contributions made. Presenters will elicit questions and concerns from participants with regard to their needs and interests in curricular modifications in terms of how to move from a theoretical understanding of degrowth to praxis reflecting an integration of environmental and social justice, human rights and policy practice. This session will assist participants in creating meaningful social responses in the classroom and in the community in response to the environmental crisis. Having students recognize their connection as part of a system is a means for them to personalize the impact degrowth has and the ways they can move from talk to action.


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 14:00
Duration: 01:30
Room: ABF204
Track: Degrowth: Culture, Power and Change



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