Categories
education

Educating future leaders

Dr Indrapriya Kularatne of Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus discusses educating international future leaders to be sustainable practitioners. A specialist in International Sustainability Education, Indra makes use of the diverse perspectives of students from all over the world. The first step is an appreciation of the real environment that includes themselves. He works to ensure that his future managers see sustainability as the solution, not the problem.

We can’t live alone

Do something right. others will follow you.

Superpower: Blending scientific knowledge and social aspects and ability to communicate with future managers.

Creating change agents – we take people from nowhere practicing sustainable practitioners.

Sustainability is about changing mindsets

Categories
education

politics of everyday life

Deane E. Neubauer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Over the course of his career he has focused on a variety of political and policy areas including democratic theory, public policy, elections and various policy foci, including education, health, agriculture and communication.

We talk about the rapidly changing world driving change in higher education including climate change, AI and resurgent nationalism. The implications of these forces are far-reaching, from the challenges to old disciplines, massification and the notion of truth.

But before that we talk about growing up in Wisconsin, and accidentally stumbling in academia then sociology and political science. And then a cornucopia of topics encompassed by “the politics of everyday life”: alternative healthcare; globalisation; resurgent nationalism; interdisciplinarity; politics of resentment; and how we get real change. While change may come from an emergency (he points to Californian fires), we need, Deane says, to find a way to “overcome the forces of despair”.

Categories
education RCEOtago youngleader

Youth that needs to be listened to

Matt Shepherd, Sylvia Otley and Luke Geddes from the Youth Working Group of the Otago UN Regional Centre for Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development

Categories
agriculture art community education geography

Rural imaginings

Professor Valentine Cadieux is Director of Environmental Studies and Director of Sustainability at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota. She studies collaborative knowledge practices related to food, agriculture, and land in the context of settler society cultures in Canada, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Talking points.

Incentivised to explore the woods behind my house.

How to colloboratively define rural environments

Imagination of wilderness

People describing themselves as “rural people at heart” but don’t know any farmers.

Questions around what keeps people in the city when they’re living in rural areas?

Say your objectives out loud – in time you can hear them

Embedding sustainability across the curriculum

Validating what people are doing already.

Pieces of sustainability that dwarf the carpooling. Social justice, transformative change.

Sustainability has been “owned” by the environment, but more and more people are realising that it’s the connection to people – social justice, processes of change – that makes that special.

Institutions of higher learning promote value sets that are more consumerist than they intended. So we have to teach them (students) what is excessive.

Making food access and food liberty a part of being educated.

Students are so anxious about the future of the world. We’ve seen a huge reduction in scare tactics – they’re scared already, we have to present positivity as a message.

Permission to do the things you find pleasure and joy in.

A course: Planetary Home Care Manual.

How do you contribute as much as you take in a collaboration?

Definition: Conditions under which all can thrive

Activist: Social relationships are core – without them the technical won’t work.

Motivation: A surprisingly cheerful reaction to adversity.

Challenge: Not getting boxed in to recycling. Although that is a springboard to energy conversations.

Advice: Work with people who are joyful and find joy in the work. Be joyful and creative.

Categories
community garden computing education permaculture

Planting seeds

Cal Egan is a researcher at Edinburgh Napier University investigating intersections of permaculture and digital design and technology. He is developing Lions’ Gate as a regenerative ‘blended space’ as a space for exploring urban permaculture and as a place to explore the role of technology in a thriving future.

I wanted to know why things were

We’re trying to be a bit provocative, but in a way that is beautiful and works

It’s about the relationships, the things you can’t see, the living engine, we have to enrich that.

We need to learn how to grow a different sort of abundance

Come hither, we’re reconceptualising our spaces – a permaculture garden in an urban setting, re-establishing a wildlife corridor, a food forest that is a place for sustainability.

Provoking to action

We’re at the interface of permaculture and computing. Both how computing can help permaculture, but perhaps more how permaculture helps computing, design, business. Dourish’s knowledge of space.

A place to slow down. Hurry up and slow down. How do we overcome information anxiety?

Living more thoughtful. Social relations. Stripping our crazy world back to reality.

Computing can learn about a different sort of design process. One focused on growing the substrate, on energies – personal and biophysical, and boundaries and edges. A process that starts and ends with care of the planet.

Care of the planet – that’s what makes me happy.

I decided to be a very vocal person.

We’re working towards a self-sustaining system, circular food, water management, performance – we’re a Fringe venue. We’re making an interactive throne that tells stories, bringing people into spaces. With a “horrible mode” if air pollution is bad it may lock people out.

A place of calm yet we have to provoke, I want it to be dangerous.

Advice: Plant seeds – take over the neighbourhood. Follow your heart and intuition.

Recorded at ICT4S and ACM Limits at Lappeenranta, Finland.

Categories
children education

Every student can make a difference

Graham Henton is an inspirational Enviro Science Teacher at Whakatane Intermediate School, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. We talk about his background, his approach to teaching and the restoration of the Awatapu lagoon and why he loves what he is doing.

Talking points

What a difference a child can make

Every child – I believe in you

Understanding – what we do as human beings

Interdependence is everything

If you don’t like Enviro, come and talk to Mr H, what’s going worng, what am I doing wrong?

Too many takers and not enough givers

I’ve made up a word for people who are selfish: BigISpoilers – their mission in life is to spoil things for everything and everyone else. I encourage the kids to be enviro-kids, and they are going to assist the planet to be sustainable.


Empower their life of making a difference

Put your cards on the table, lets figure out what we can do

Why would you want to cultivate a culture of extravagance?

They’re doing it, that my legacy.

It buzzes me out, I met people all over NZ, big burly fellas at the petrol station, “Mr H you believed in me”. I empower kids to make a difference. I want to empower children to make a difference in their life first, and then make a difference in the environment. They’re doing, that is my greatest encouragement.

Sustainability: Helping earth, not fighting it. Allowing the earth to do what it wants to do without us ruining and spoiling. Instead of creating carnage wherever we go.

Success: meeting students years later. In high school, trying to continue what we have begun here. Young children, 10-11 years old, they’re getting it, they’re embarking on a life of sustainability.

Superpower: Empowering young people, to help them understand the importance of the environment. People don’t do things unless they understand it, my job as an educator is to help them understand why we do stuff.

Kids teaching me – I love it. Boom!

Because I love what I’m doing, and because I’m enthusiastic about it, the kids love it (mostly).

Activist? I don’t think so, I’m just a passionate person who believes that passion breeds passion. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. I’ve taken the time to develop a programme that works with kids, and I believe in it.

The world is filled with people who believe in things, and people who believe in things, make things happen. I what kids to know that, to believe that, that they can make things happen.

Categories
design education food waste

Food systems whisperer

Finn Boyle variously describes himself as a compost nerd”, a “food philosophy explorer” and a “yeast whisperer”. Realising the question of “what am I eating?” took him down a rabbit hole, Finn saw that he needed to change the world and that his lever was food systems design. He embarked on a food design degree which eventually saw him a grand tour of compost. Amongst several other activities, he is now working to reduce Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste. We talk about making disruption attractive.

Read more on Finn’s work on taking a thriving approach to Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste system (pdf)

Categories
education

Transforming education

Dr Paul LeBlanc is President of Southern New Hampshire University. He says his goal (and that of SNHU) is making the world a better and more just place – one learner at a time. And how they are doing it, at scale. We talk about the social justice underpinnings for College for America, and how a focus on every student can be achieved at scale. Future generations of learners will be masters of multiple worlds, have spectrum demographics, be distributed and have a different sense of value – seeing value in curated interconnected social selves.

Learning has to be authentic

How do we educate when people are working in a VUCA world? (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous)

Transform lives

Are we being as thoughtful about equity as we are about access?

Becoming you curated best self

Doing information in a more democratic way

End of Average

Its the end of the credit hour model that focusses on time spent in class, instead the competency model puts the focus on learning.

(On international university work in war-torn and refugee communities) How could we not be there? It’s our moral imperative.

Its not about being an individual hero, but the ability to make team successful

Build the narrative – the story is part of the solution…writing for change.

Categories
conservation biology dunedin education volunteering

Giving back to restore

Alyth Grant retired from an academic job teaching German and has launched into a retirement role with the Orokonui Ecosanctuary.  She tells us that the sanctuary is about protecting an ecosystem, it’s not a zoo.


Talking points

It felt like this was my opportunity to give back to what I’d always loved doing

It felt to me like my opportunity to give back to the natural world of your life to the bush which I had laughed all those years. But it was also an opportunity to learn a lot

It’s very exciting this hands on stuff I just loved. And of course, the other huge benefit is you meet a whole new circle of friends who were doing the same thing and share the same passions.

(on the future of the sanctuary)  That’s a very big question, one would hope that it will continue. And I think one … that one of the most important things to happen is recruiting new volunteers, younger volunteers because we all are 10 years older than we were when we started and that’s why the educational side of the programme is vitally important.

I think the sustainability aspect comes…in we have an excellent education program most people know Tahu Mackenzie by now and she has (worked with) preschoolers who are already learning how to plant how to read how to look after the new trees… they learn about all aspects of the wildlife it or economic and it goes right through to high school students to programs that are linked in with their NCEA curricula and lean on to university students – ecology students in particular who are doing their own projects for for masters degrees and PhD degrees. Now, all of those young people right through are getting what I lacked in my childhood, that involvement with the outdoors, the learning what it takes to look after this beautiful world we live in, and New Zealand.

I think it’s when you begin to understand that it’s a whole ecosystem that we’re trying to look after.  And and that’s what our Ecosanctuary really is about isn’t just a zoo, we have to tell people all the time because you can promise that they’re going to see this (animal).

(Do you have a go to definition of sustainability?) I don’t, I mean, I need the the dictionary meaning of the word, what it means for us individually is very different. I think it’s what we can do ourselves to the overall thing, whether it be getting involved as I’ve done and some sort of specific project aimed at trying to restore our environment to something better than it has become.

I’ve been a teacher all so many years, that it’s going to depend a lot on education, from childhood onwards through to the adults who perhaps didn’t know about it earlier on, like me,  so that it’s an ongoing thing that we take it for granted that we have to look after our environment.

And as part of the education I think we need to become more politically aware, I think we fail our own society and not doing enough at school level to become good citizens to understand what it is to be a voting person, member of a community and informing ourselves of what the issues are for our community and for the world.

(superpower)  The willingness to talk about it? I think as much as anything,  Well, I guess it’s the background and teaching and communicating as well as the willingness to be involved physically and things I was brought up to be reasonably practical person. So I enjoy that combination, I think.

(motivation) Life is still interesting…what keeps me interested in life. I’m still learning stuff.

(miracle) Get rid of plastic,  I get angry every time I go to buy something  and everything’s in plastic packaging. And while it’s lovely to think that we can do something ourselves about getting rid of plastic single use plastic bags, I think the bigger issue is a huge one. And it’s how do you persuade manufacturers to stop packaging like that, I mean, I  can remember when you went to the hardware store, and they would weigh out some screws for you or count out some screws for you. But that doesn’t happen anymore because they want to hang everything on hooks.

(Advice) get out in the environment, do whatever you can, in whatever small way something that makes you feel good about yourself and about the world you live.

Categories
community education leadership youngleader

Passion for creating change

Ashleigh Smith is Co-founder and Board Chairperson of Sticks n Stones, New Zealand’s largest youth led bullying prevention organisation.   She is a Queen’s Young Leader and a student in both the Bachelor of Nursing and Bachelor of Leadership for Change.


Talking points:

If you are unhappy about something, do something about it!

I have such a passion for creating this change you know the things that are really important to you in your life you just have to make time for.

Last year I came to this awesome conclusion:  the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life was standing actually just being kind to someone else

Sometimes we get so incredibly busy within our own lives that we miss all the opportunities to be kind to the people around us, and I actually think that realising and acting on that is the best way to change the world.

Sometimes in life you have to take a step back and look at the other persons perspective, and even though you think they may be wrong you have got ask yourself what value they can add to the situation, and just do you best to try and look through that.

If I could wave a magic wand I would make everyone more aware of how our choices as consumers can have an effect on the world.

Sometimes you have to realise that you are doing your best.

Connecting to your why.

Categories
education

Education of positive discourse

Oonagh McGirr is Deputy Chief Executive Learning and Teaching at Otago Polytechnic.


Talking points:

Other people motive me, just working with other people is a privilege and a pleasure. I’ve worked in lots of places, Spain, Italy, Greece, Ireland, England and now in New Zealand. So, I feel really privileged because its basically like a great long observational piece of work where you go around a meet lots of people and conclude that was are all basically the same.

People should start being kinder to people on every level.

Be aware that when you wake up in the morning that you need to make a genuinely kind act which is selfless.

We need to get beyond a discourse of deficit

Be kind, there’s enough for everybody

 

 

 

Categories
business education

Transformational skills through enterprise

Dr Colin Kennedy is Head of Impact for the Young Enterprise Trust.

We’ve been too busy focussing on the problems…it’s time for the solution section

Enterprise is the most powerful agent of change we have – for good or bad.

How could we have a bigger positive impact?

Why wouldn’t you use something exciting to teach the curriculum?

This generation’s narrative is impact

An eternal optimist, and business is the biggest tool we have, let’s use it for good.

Be the change, find out where you are most useful and work that.

Categories
education

play> reflect> act

We talk with Dina Buchbinder Auron and Edgardo Martinez of Education for Sharing.

Education for Sharing’s (E4S) mission is to form better citizens from childhood through innovative education programs based on the power of play and physical activity. Their vision is for EfS to become an integral part of school communities globally. We ask about how civic education can empower the next generation of community changemakers prepared to tackle the global challenges of their time.

The way that we preserve the most precious resources that allow us to live a happy, healthy and safe life.

The children are not only children, they are change-makers!

Creating a better world for everyone, making a difference everyday.

Categories
communication education museum science

Telling the story of science

Amadeo Enriquez-Ballestero is science presentation co-ordinator at Otago Museum.

If we all did a little bit, we could make big differences in the world.

My motivation is offering the experiences that I would have wanted as a child to kids around New Zealand, and seeing that I can make a difference.

Don’t stop feeling life – do logic after you have felt something – otherwise life is worthless.

We are facing another major extinction, and maybe we can do something about it – the dinosaurs went extinct due to rapidly decreasing oxygen levels, we are facing with a similar issue of sky-rocketing carbon dioxide levels. We’ve seen it happen before and if we don’t do something about it, humans will become extinct.

Categories
design education leadership

Professional Disobedience

Welby Ings is Professor of Graphic Design at AUT.  His recent book Disobedient Teaching is causing big waves in the education community.  We ask Welby what drives him, and how professional disobedience can change the world.


Talking points

We need to play in the unknown

The terror of poverty

There is nothing beautiful about being poor

She doesn’t think I’m stupid…I loved her

There are people in dire environments who actually effect change.

You don’t need to tell someone that they’re awesome, show them that you understand that.  Ask their opinion of something, or ask their advice about something.

Often when we’re trying to repair someone who has been damaged and people say “what do I do, what do I do”, I say ask for their advice.  Ask their opinion.  Ask them to show you some stuff.  The crap detectors  are very good, they’re going to spot it when you are patronising.    But ask something you don’t know the answer to – hanging a gate, you say this isn’t working, do think there’s some other way we could try – when they realise that you are genuinely asking them, it makes a big change inside you.

When you are bit wounded you’re very sensitive to what’s false, so when you get something sincere, it has immense power.

It doesn’t have much to do with hierarchy, it seems to have to do with agency.

Cynicism is the death of hope and the death of agency.   If you live in your world cynically then you are not going to do anything to change what is there.  All you will do is accommodate and be witty about how negative it is.  But you have given away the agency to change because you have divorced yourself from the thing.

If you are a teacher and you are role modelling that then you are doing a very dangerous, very toxic thing to kids.

If you’re in an organisation where you are trying to grow the health of it, you’re doing bad things for people who admire you, because you are teaching them to become inactive.  You’re putting wit over the top of it so it sounds clever, but is actually the abdication of the power to change things.

A lot of people who do effect change have a mixture of optimism and common sense.   They do function with high levels of hope and high levels of belief and they refuse to relinquish that – even when an environment turns toxic they defiantly hold onto it.

Oftentimes those people who are effecting change are not necessarily in empowered positions on hierarchies, and they threaten people in them because their talent is more, and they are genuinely the true leaders.

People endure because they have spirit and they set up relationships with other thinkers and they care for those other thinkers

Understanding how the system works – not in a bitter way – but fundamentally.  The worst thing you can do with someone who opposes you is give that oxygen.

As soon as someone sees themselves as binary to you, they can put aside the morals, the ethics of how they behave.

 

If you want to have influence, do not let people hate you, don’t give them that.

I don’t (have a definition of sustainability) because the idea is so important but the word is so polluted.  I have a sense, but I try not to use the word.

Success:  Been loved.

Superpower:  I don’t know, I don’t believe in heroes, what I do believe in is generosity and courage.   How I measure if what I’ve been doing is working is the amount of agency that gives to people, even to the point that they might disagree with me.  Heroic is a very dangerous thing, it dumbs things down and it turns people into role models and that’s not sustainable because it’s not sustainable – it’s not a true thing, we’re flawed, flawed human beings.

Activist: Yes.  Active.  Quite a long history.   The point where I wasn’t I think I’d’ve lost a sense of value in myself.

I see activism as a hugely affirming thing.   Affirming things that are not usually acknowledged.

Motivation:  I’m passionate.  A lot of my friends died of Aids, and you begin to understand what a life was, and you don’t waste it.  It’s an extraordinary thing to have you health and a society that has got relative freedom in it and your talents, those are extraordinary things.

Opportunities:  New feature film.  Painting.

Relentlessly optimistic?  Yes.

Miracle:  I don’t understand war. I don’t have a frame, but it’s wrong.  It it’s wrong to kill people for ideas.  So world peace.  But it’s not going to happen like that, it’s going to take a different kind of mind.  But it’s not a wish, it needs an alert, critical positive mind.

 

 

 

Categories
education Inequality sociology values

Transforming education

Vaneeta D’Andrea is Professor Emerita, University of the Arts London. An edcuator and sociologist, Vaneeta literally wrote the book on improving teaching and learning.   Vaneeta has a belief in the role of values so we talk about where those came from, and how that has influenced her career including what she describes as the disconnect in education.


The obligation to the other people we share the world with.

Opinions are valid, but that’s not evidence in my class.

Challenge of how to make people consider lives of other people more seriously

Sustainable: try to act in ways that will sustain the planet.    We’re seeing the impact of a non-sustainable world on the current generations.

Success: funding for research what it means to be a “western academic” – the role of affirmative feedback.

Superpower:  Experience.  47 years of experience in higher education.

Activist: Yes.  I won in 1972 a sex discrimination case against my employer.  It was a precedent that allowed other people to make claims.

I don’t see (activsim and teaching) as mutually exclusive.  I don’t have an agenda about my activism in my teaching, I just try to model what I consider to be good human behaviours and hope that people respect that.

It’s a question of what you accept as evidence.

Motivation: Opportunity to work with people and chance to facilitate their learning and my learning – the opportunity to learn something every single day of my life.  Being a learner and helping other people learn.

We don’t have a tendency to be able to abstract – we’re very concrete thinkers – we have to have something concrete in front of us, we have to see that this action affects this action, affects that action.   Unfortunately with issues around sustainability, you can’t see immediately the impact of that one decision, say to recycle that piece of glass. And you can’t make the leap of that to the climate problem. So when scientists say they can see this relationship, people feel threatened by that – because they think “well I don’t see it”, what are these smart guys trying to do, and then there’s this resistance to the smart guys because we can’t see the relationship, we can’t go there.   Questions around sustainable practice are really challenging because of that level of abstraction that’s required.

Challenge: More of these projects learn something everyday.   Helping institutions reconceptualise their learning and the way that they function – and bringing a sociological perspective to that.

If you slow down you will stop.

Miracle:  Progressive governments to make the lives of more people better.

 

 

Categories
community conservation biology design education

Loving life: Taking action

Tahu Mackenzie and Harvey Penfold won Audacious this year for their development of PekaPeka – a movable, predator-proof bird-feeding platform designed to feed a range of native birds anywhere.   Tahu is the lead educator for Orokonui Ecosantuary, while Harvey is completing a Bachelor of Product Design at Otago Polytechnic.


Talking points

Teaching people what we can do, what’s been lost and what we can come back to.

10 years into a 1000 year restoration plan

(we asked both Tahu and Harvey these questions – you can decide who said what).

Sustainable:   Closed loop production cycle.  Emotional connection with nature as priority.  Emotional well-being in environment.

Success: Audacious.  Meeting Jane Goodall.

Superpower: Love. Thinking.

Activist: Yes.  Yes.

Motivation: Make dreams come true, working for yourself and provide a great home life.   I feel the most inspired, loved and powerful in nature – I would like everyone to have the opportunity to experience that.

Challenges: Growing business.

Miracle.   Remove predators.

Advice:   You can make a difference in so many different ways – however you passionately connect with the world, I’d encourage people to take action and feel good about it.   Design has made such a difference to me, but I didn’t do it for so long.  So if you feel like you would enjoy something then you should look for ways to make that happen. .

 

 

Categories
behaviour change education

Accommodating well-being

Deirdre McIntyre is Residential Life Manager at Bangor University.   A geographer with a background in areas of outstanding beauty, waste management, and business development, she is now working to improve the well-being of Bangor’s students.   We talk about encouraging student green movements and think tanks, energy awareness, and waste awareness weeks.   Messaging is key and that means treading a careful line between corporate and fun.


Talking points

Bringing the academic environment into the living environment

 

Sustainable: The holistic approach to living as a community and to me sustainability at its heart is really about how we educate and develop the students that are living with us, so they leave evolved and prepared for living as citizens of a global community.

 

Success: Winning multiple sustainability awards over the last few years and engaging with over five thousand students.

 

Superpower: My ability to enthuse people with my passion for anything I get my teeth into, and

generally dragging anyone along with me.

 

Activist: Yes, I’m well aware that people never want anything rammed down their throats, and I think that’s why I’m really good at bringing people along with me because the soft persuasion and living your life as an example, that’s how you can be the best activist.  

 

Motivation: (My four-year-old…) A genuine desire to invigorate other people with my enthusiasm with what I’m doing.

 

Challenges: Once the dust settles in the department, we can look to a constructive future, I would love to see student engagement and satisfaction featured far more heavily.

 

Miracle: Make every student positively engage with us at least once.

 

Advice: Don’t ask for a lighter burden ask for a stronger back

 

This conversation was made with help of the Sustainability Lab at the Bangor University.