Thursday, 6 December 2012

Community involvement in environmental education and governance

Environmental education is crucial for engaging people from all walks of life to make informed decisions about issues such as biodiversity loss, climate destabilisation and resource depletion. Ardoin, Clark and Kelsey's recent paper "An exploration of future trends in environmental education research" has explored the possible future directions that environmental education may take. The authors' study was undertaken with an awareness of the increasing impact of global trends such as the technology revolution, the urban age, and the globalisation of environmental issues.

A number of interesting findings flow from the authors' research. One suggestion made is that that environmental education and research may broadening in focus from the individual to community level. The idea that education and research can be inclusive and collaborative is well-instanced in the project around which this blog was founded - the Agricultural Emissions Dialogue process. The project brought together farmers, iwi, economists, scientists, government and other experts to discuss issues around agricultural emissions. Whilst the group conducted no formal research, the dialogues proved to be the catalyst for a number of pieces of research by Motu (see the bottom of this page) and our recently published short film and teaching materials. Two of the earlier entries on this blog have specifically considered the process of dialogue - this post by Ana Ngamoki, and this post by Geoff Simmons.

It may be the case that environmental governance, like environmental education, will increasingly broaden towards a community-focussed approach. The Land and Water Forum's recent series of reports on how freshwater management in New Zealand can be improved called for community decision-making at catchment level, within a framework created by central government. The Forum's third report emphasised the need for community buy-in to ensure regulation is effective, and the importance of giving weight to community-specific needs and values in decision making.

Another issue that Ardoin, Clark and Kelsey touch on is the highlighted opportunity for engagement that social media brings. With that in mind, this is probably a good point at which to remind readers about ways in which they can engage with this blog. Comments are most welcome, as are suggestions for topics (email us at And to subscribe to receive updates when posts are made, simply enter your email address in the "Follow By Email" field to the right.

1 comment:

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