SAC # 110

What if? Education for Survival and Sustainability  ___________________________________________________________________


TIME | 1 June 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin

SPEAKER | Dave McKay


There is little debate that the global environment, including the social dimension of humanity and related global politics, is not in a good way. Not only is it clear that we created this situation and that only we can choose sort it out, it is also apparent that a limited window of opportunity is likely for corrective action. To carry on as we have (and are) is simply not sustainable. It is probable that our species will not survive the long term consequences of our continuation of the status quo.

We are at a point in human history where a fundamental reappraisal and urgent adjustment of the ways in which we collectively think and behave is required in order for humanity to hope to survive, particularly in any long term sense. Contemporary ways, the Dominant Social Paradigm, need to be unlearned and appropriate ‘new’ (yet in many cases ancient and time-proven within our collective histories) ways understood, learned, practiced and embodied.

Given this situation, how are we currently ‘educating’ our children and ourselves? For what purpose? What is ‘learning’? Why do we ‘educate’? What are the goals of education? Who sets these? Are these appropriate to the needs? And, if not, what do the goals need to be? Are we truly learning? Who is best equipped to survive? What might we learn about educating from pre-contact and current indigenous perspectives?

This presentation is about exploring constraints of worldview upon education and what is needed to achieve an environmentally sensitive, literate and resilient society, individually equipped with awareness, knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills, for survival and sustainability. 

Key Words & Terms

Global environmental crisis, Dominant Social Paradigm, disconnection, reconnection, environmental literacy, ecological literacy, environmental sensitisation, environmental contextualisation, environmental education, education for sustainability, ecology, environmental management, world views, education for life, common sense, education, resilience, sustainability, survival.

About the Speaker

David is a PhD candidate with Otago University’s Geography Department, associated with Te Tumu, School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. He is attached to CSAFE’s Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai, with links to CSAFE’s ARGOS and to the University’s Bioethics Centre in the School of Medicine.

David is an experienced Environmental Educator and Advisor, Project Manager, Designer, Builder, Horticulturalist, Hunter and Teacher. He has considerable experience in facilitating lifeskills education and education for survival towards the well-being of young people and is currently involved in a health research application relating to this with Te Tai Timu Trust in Napier.  His interests in interdisciplinary and intercultural facilitation towards ecologically sustainable management practices have led to his association with the Environmental Risk Management Authority’s (ERMA) National Iwi Network.

David’s PhD research seeks to identify and describe how Environmental Education / Education for Sustainability is conceptualised, understood and practiced amongst New Zealand Maori, with the objective of helping facilitate meaningful integration of indigenous understandings in environmental education and management policy and practices in New Zealand.


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