Systemic educational approaches to environmental issues: the contribution of ecological art.
Systemic Practice and Action Research, 19(2),
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System thinkers and practitioners are trying to help society understand better the interconnectedness between issues that we previously tended to explore in isolation. Because of this, they have an important role to play in dealing with environmental issues. Indeed, the need to tackle those in holistic ways is now recognised and systems approaches are now complementing academic approaches such as ecological economics (Neumayer E (ed) (2003) Online encyclopaedia of ecological economics. International Society for Ecological Economics; Faber M, Manstetten R, Proops J (1996) Ecological economics. Concepts and methods. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham), which analyse ecological-human interactions. This paper explores how new forms of 'environmental education' could constitute particularly relevant vehicles for systems thinking and practice by building on messages and practices initiated in ecological art. Ecological art, it argues, has provided, for centuries, a practical form of holistic, interdisciplinary, problem-solving environmental management model–a particularly insightful illustration of how 'systems thinking and practice' can be used to deal with environmental problems. The paper suggests that art-based pedagogic forms could help put sustainability into practice by providing an educational tool that respects the systemicity of environmental issues and by encouraging systemic learning processes that are based on improved communication, sharing of perspectives, and stakeholders' empowerment through participation and experience.
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