Ingerid S. Straume: En menneskeskapt virkelighet: Klimaendring, sosiale forestillinger og pedagogisk filosofi (2017)

Why is so little done when we have so much reliable natural science knowledge about how the Earth’s climate is being changed by human activity? Why don’t we do enough when we know the consequences of not doing enough?

This paradox is the starting point for the Norwegian book En menneskeskapt virkelighet by Ingerid S. Straume. Straume holds a PhD in the philosophy of education. She teaches educational theory and academic writing, and works as a subject specialist at the Library of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Oslo, Norway.

In her book, Straume points out how the attention to climate change has greatly increased in recent years, both within and outside of academia. Nevertheless, political negotiations have so far not led to sufficient adaptations; global warming and emissions continue to increase.

Straume discusses climate issues from different approaches: political, cultural, moral and educational. She presents the historical development of the field, from classic nature conservation through environmental protection to today’s debates on ecocrises and climate change. She also examines current terminology – the words form the premise for the thinking. «Climate change» is a relatively neutral term that implies a need for research and understanding. «Climate problems» implies political responsibility and involves something that you want to counteract or, if this is not possible, to adapt to. «Climate crisis» signifies a state that must definitely be prevented. In public debates we frequently find the word «solution», which gives the impression that the situation can be prevented. But, Straume says, there is no reason to believe that the problems can be eliminated; climate changes have long been a fact.

The author wishes to create a basis for new insights, including ideas that are «just partially thought out», and invites all professions and disciplines, especially educators of all levels, to reflect on their own roles. She says that climate change represents an educational challenge and believes it is a task for kindergartens, schools and parents to raise children to contribute to social change. Ecopedagogy argues against a Western anthropocentric worldview, and it has a sociopolitical agenda, linked to various movements of justice, like justice of climate, Straume claims. Therefore she believes that the education system is central to what is called «transformative learning». The transformative dimension of learning directs the attention to the context of the learning processes in which the learners themselves are involved. In this way it may lead them to transform reference frames that are taken for granted, like conventional thinking and opinions, in order to prepare them for changes. By this means the learners may generate attitudes that are more justified to guide action, Straume says.

Straume’s book deals with questions about environmental education, eco-education and climate change as a problem for raising children, which is most relevant for NaChiLitCul research. The Norwegian school curricula are now to be revised, and in March 2017 a consultation paper for the new general part was presented in which «sustainable development» is one of three new interdisciplinary themes. Straume emphasizes that knowledge of sustainable development implies a comprehension of basic dilemmas, an understanding that should be the platform for us to act constructively and consciously in creating a better world. She points out that ecopedagogy concerns all school subjects; the theme will have consequences for the school’curricula and textbooks, and should be integrated into teacher education and research. From the point of view of the NaChiLitCul project, analyses of children’s literature and culture will represent important contributions in this context.

Ture Schwebs, 01.02.2018