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Beyond the classroom and the lecture theatre

Environmental education needs to be given higher priority if we are instill a long term sense of ecological connectedness in the hearts and minds of our children, and the adults they interact with – especially their parents and caregivers.

Education can play a major role in fixing society’s unhealthy relationship with nature, says Professor Partha Dasgupta in the recently released Review of the Economics of Biodiversity.  He calls for decision makers to craft fresh education policy that can remedy humans’ increasing detachment from the natural world.

Education programs should focus on local issues and the role of communities and civil societies in the economics of biodiversity, and reach people of all ages, according to the review. Efforts to help people understand and connect with nature will not only improve health but will empower citizens to make informed choices and to demand higher standards from business, finance, and government.

Teaching about nature at present tends to be confined to primary school and studies have shown that connection with nature hits an all-time low in people’s mid-teens. One idea suggested in the review is for universities to mandate that all students attend a course on basic ecology, as a way to connect students (in particular, those that have grown up in an urban environment) with nature.

We agree. Munibung Hill would be an ideal location for field study visits. 

We would add, that this be extended to include all parents, so that when students go home they will be at least able to discuss the issues with equally informed adults, rather than perhaps coming up against disinterested or hostile responses at home.  Beyond this, we all need a refresher course in environ-mental ‘driving.’  If it’s essential to have driver training in order to safely drive a vehicle and negotiate the byways and highways, how much more essential is it that we have some ecological training in order to safely and wisely behave in relation to our earth mother. Issue us with L plates and P plates according to our levels of proficiency.

(From MMM Issue #18, April 2021)