The Knowledge Synthesis Grants are a program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, designed to pull together expert perspectives on a set of “future challenge areas” that are crucial to “Imagining Canada’s Future.”
CIRCE members Sean Blenkinsop and Mark Fettes obtained a Knowledge Synthesis grant in connection with the challenge area “Living within the Earth’s carrying capacity.” The starting point for their work was an acknowledgment that modern educational traditions, processes and institutions have played a key role in fostering the attitudes, discourse and behaviour driving the current ecological crisis, and thus learning to live within the Earth’s carrying capacity implies far-reaching, systemic educational transformation, or what they called “education for eco-social-cultural change,”
The project had three main components:
- A review of contemporary philosophical and theoretical work that critiques damaging or limiting assumptions and practices in mainstream education systems and points towards ways of being, thinking, valuing, acting, learning and teaching that are more consonant with the goal of living in harmony with the Earth;
- A review of generative and transformative educational practices, scattered throughout both formal and informal educational systems, with the goal of bringing these disparate practices into conversation with each other in the context of a shared project of eco-social-cultural change;
- A review of current work on systemic social change and generative resilience, with a particular focus on how large-scale change in systems of formal schooling could be brought about.
The primary value of the project was to map out the scope and scale of the challenge, and to identify some promising directions for urgently needed educational innovation and research. The Evidence Brief and Final Report can be downloaded from the following links.