BGCI Education Blog

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Tuesday, 10 April 2007

education for sustainable development - its not just a catchy title

So, we're off to China, to learn, discuss, inspire and the 3rd Global Botanic Gardens Congress.

Of course the congress is going to be more than gossiping with friends - the education dept have been set to work! We're running a day long session on education for sustainable development. Hopefully it will be interesting, as its such a varied subject, that some people find very hard to get their head around.

We've had the participants list through though, firstly, its a pretty big workshop, about 28 people, secondly, they are all amazing educators themselves who run some of the best botanic garden education programmes in the world. In fact, lets face it, a decent proportion of them, we were going to use their programmes as case studies for good ESD....

Nevertheless, we shall not be intimidated, we have a few tricks up our collective sleeves. What I find interesting about ESD is just how varied it is - taking in aspects of development education, environmental education, feminism, peace education, ecology , systems thinking, economics and design. It is so much more than learning to appreciate nature - although that is certainly a major part of it. It is recognising oneself within nature, as a portion of the ecosystem, as a biotic part of Gaia, interconnected with all others. Once we can see that our actions, our daily lives have an effect on everything else - we are the butterfly that flaps its wings in Brazil causing a monsoon in India, we can live in a way that reflects this.

So much of ESD is also about critical thinking - is this the best way to live my life, considering I am within this huge system?, is my government making the policy choices that I want them to?, does my botanic garden really contribute to sustainability or is it just lip service?; followed by empowerment - as a citizen of the world I am an individual but I can also make decisions that are important and will make a difference. These skills are also key to the democratic process as a whole, being able to question and also take action, and so are vital for everyone, any age, to have and use.

Our workshop will be looking at the different aspects of ESD, personal meanings, values and beliefs, but also the practical ways that garden education programmes can communicate with their audiences about some of the more abstract concepts. As with any part of CEPA (communication, education and public awareness) programmes, it is all about making it provocative, relevant and revealing new meaning to the audience.

Once we've run it, we will put the workshop on the BGCI website - I want to develop a larger area on the education website focused on ESD, so if you have any ideas or thoughts on the subject, please let me know!

Oh, and if you are interested, the BGCI publication on Education for Sustainable Development: Guidelines for action in Botanic Gardens, is available to download.

1 comment:

Orlik said...

Hello Sarah!

Unfortunately I'm not able for going China. It sounds quite interesting what you´re telling about the ESD workshop, and I've no doubts that you´re going to conduct it very well. Keep going!
I told you before that 2007 is called by our institution's authorities as "the year of the botanic garden". Well, amongst the goals (in a wider sense), we want to establish the Clavijero as a reference for ESD for the Southeastern region of Mexico. The Jardín Botánico Francisco J. Clavijero assumes itself as operator of a gradual and progressive change in the people's understanding and coexistence with the vegetal diversity, as a key element for sustainability... and we're working forward!
Of course, networking and sharing of experiences are basic for giving us a correct vision...we'll keep in touch!

Have a good time at China, and good luck!