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Unformatted text preview: Research Commons at the University of Waikato Copyright Statement: The digital copy of this thesis is protected by the Copyright Act 1994 (New Zealand). The thesis may be consulted by you, provided you comply with the provisions of the Act and the following conditions of use: Any use you make of these documents or images must be for research or private study purposes only, and you may not make them available to any other person. Authors control the copyright of their thesis. You will recognise the author’s right to be identified as the author of the thesis, and due acknowledgement will be made to the author where appropriate. You will obtain the author’s permission before publishing any material from the thesis. Higher Education and the Anthropocene Towards an ecological approach to higher education policy in New Zealand A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education University of Waikato Robert James Stratford February 2019 Page |i Abstract In this thesis I present an ecological direction for higher education policy in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This position is developed through an ecological approach to policy, which includes a postfoundational take on ecological theory, especially the work of Gregory Bateson and Felix Guattari. This ecological approach to higher education policy is in contrast to the neoliberal and technicist policy thinking which has informed New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Strategy (Ministry of Education, 2014c). As a contrast, the ecological approach in this thesis draws strength from ecological economics, environmental politics, critical policy analysis, ecological theory and philosophical pragmatism. The methodological core of this approach is described as Critical Eco Pragmatism (CEP). Following a discussion of ecological theory and an exploration of the Global Ecological Crisis (GEC) as an interconnected problem of natural, political, social, psychological, pedagogical and epistemological dimensions, I develop a theoretical framework for being ecological in higher education. This framework draws on a critique of Ron Barnett’s work on the ecological university (Barnett, 2010, 2018) and introduces the notion of ‘Anthropocene Intelligence’. Anthropocene Intelligence provides a way to pragmatically bring together a range of theoretical ideas about education – especially those ideas that have a claim on improving our psychological, social and natural ecologies. This includes educational discourses that have not always had a high level of interaction, such as environmental and sustainability education (ESE), indigenous education, ecopedagogy, engaged scholarship, ecological humanities, human development education, and education for wellbeing (including the healthy university). The potential of an ecological approach is also considered in relation to the many practical possibilities that currently exist in higher education policy and practice both internationally and in New Zealand. Together with the theoretical approach taken in this thesis, these practical possibilities inform the alternative, ecological direction this thesis develops for higher education policy in New Zealand. Included in this ecological direction is the aspiration for New Zealand to develop as an ‘ecological democracy’ (Dryzek, 2013). P a g e | ii Acknowledgements We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others. – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama The idea of interconnection sits at the centre of this thesis. In contemplating the natural and social interconnection which makes up my existence, it is a humble process to thank some of those whose energies, ideas and support have been part of this thesis. In a very direct sense I would like to thank my supervisors, Professor Michael A. Peters and Associate Professor E. Jayne White. Their experience in this business has kept me focused on what matters. And even though I have been based several hundred kilometres from where they are, they have always sent timely feedback, advice and encouragement. They have been the best supervisors I could have hoped for. There are many others I need to acknowledge. Top of this list are the people at the Graduate School of the University of Waikato who provided me with two doctoral scholarships. Thanks too, to the staff at both the University of Waikato and Massey University Libraries, who have so reliably provided me with access to those thousands of books and articles. Thanks to the people at SEPN (Sustainability Education Policy Network) who hosted Michael and me on a two week adventure into sustainability – Canadian style. A big thank you goes to the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA), who not only provided me with an additional large scholarship, but also provided me with a wonderful network of inspiring educational thinkers. A big thank you in this regard goes out to - Richard Heraud, Ruth Irwin, Leon Benade, Khalid Bakhshov, Lynley Tulloch, Sonja Arndt, Andrew Gibbons, Marek Tesar and Kirsten Locke - although there is a long list of others with whom I have connected with at the excellent PESA conferences I have attended. P a g e | iii There have also been another large group of friendly academics who have provided advice, support and encouragement for this project. Thanks to Ron Barnett for his enthusiastic support for this project in particular. Thanks as well to Arjen Wals for the work we have done together. Closer to home, thanks to Dr. Allen Hill, Assistant Professor Jenny Ritchie, Professor Girol Karacaoglu and Professor Jonathan Boston. A big thank goes to Dr. Bronwyn Wood for the opportunities provided to me at Victoria University Wellington. A special word of thanks also goes to David Chapman, who was very enthusiastic to see that this thesis progress. A final word of thanks and acknowledgement goes to Chet Bowers, who I talked with at the early stages of this work, and who, after an interesting and creative career, passed away in July of 2017. Finally, thanks to those friends and family members who have propped me up during this process. My wife has been an amazing source of support, emotionally, intellectually and financially. Thanks to my kids too, for very much keeping me grounded and making sure I took them tramping and cycling at regular intervals. Thanks to Terry and Lee for hosting me for all those times when I popped up to Hamilton. Thanks, in no particular order to my friends, especially, Kate Boocock, Rachel Simon-Kumar, Colin Reed, Stirling Hughes, Talei Smith, Mark Hammond, Kate Robin, Mike Playle, Rohan Lewis and Debbie Bell. There have also been a few important people in my sphere of dependence who have passed during the time of this thesis, and I want to make a special acknowledgement to them. Liz Bowen-Clewley as a friend, mentor and grandmother to my children - thank you for the love you have given our family, and the time you took, all those years ago, to teach me how to write. Nga mihi hoki to Aunty Bev, Uncle Terry and Uncle Jack too for their passing and the reminders they have given of how important family and history and interconnection are to all of us. P a g e | iv Table of contents Abstract ......................................................................................................................i Acknowledgements .................................................................................................... ii Table of contents ...................................................................................................... iv Thesis table of figures ............................................................................................. viii Abbreviations used in this thesis ............................................................................... ix Higher education - a note on language ........................................................................ x Chapter 1: Higher Education and the Anthropocene .................................................. 11 Ecological policy analysis and an ecological approach to higher education - thesis questions and the central thesis argument .................................................................. 13 The chapters of this thesis ............................................................................................ 20 Towards ecological policy in an ecological democracy - some reflections on the thesis journey .......................................................................................................................... 29 Chapter 2: Towards a critical-postfoundational understanding of the ecological ........ 33 ‘An’ emerging ecological world-view ............................................................................ 34 Approaches to the ecological........................................................................................ 37 Romantic and Mystical approach to the ecological .................................................. 37 Scientific approaches to ecological thought ............................................................. 39 Radical/modernist approaches to the ecological ..................................................... 51 Non-Western and Indigenous approaches to the ecological.................................... 57 Postfoundationalist approaches to the ecological ................................................... 60 A critical-postfoundational approach to the ecological................................................ 68 Chapter 3: Critical Eco-Pragmatism as policy methodology ........................................ 75 Critical Eco-Pragmatism (CEP) - an ecological approach to policy................................ 75 An overview of CEP- from being ecological to ecological policy .............................. 75 CEP and Ecological Democracy ................................................................................. 78 Policy alternatives in an ecological democracy ........................................................ 83 The four dimensions of CEP .......................................................................................... 87 Creativity as a critical and transdisciplinary approach to policy ............................... 88 CEP as critical educational policy analysis ................................................................ 90 The ecological and pragmatic dimensions of CEP..................................................... 93 The methods used in this thesis ................................................................................... 99 Chapter 4: The Global Ecological Crisis (GEC) ........................................................... 102 Page |v Human ‘success’ on an interconnected planet ........................................................... 104 Case study: An ecological analysis of the recent events in Syria ............................ 108 Economic growth, biophysical limits and decoupling ................................................. 110 The GEC, the politics of unsustainability and post-truth ............................................ 118 The politics of unsustainability ............................................................................... 119 Post-truth politics and the political ecology ........................................................... 123 Beyond post-truth deliberations............................................................................. 127 Chapter 5: The GEC, epistemology and Education.................................................... 128 Classic tensions in Environmental Education.............................................................. 129 The origins of Environmental Education ..................................................................... 132 Questioning the advocacy of EE and the beginnings of SE ......................................... 135 Ecological literacy versus liberal environmentalism ................................................... 137 Beyond liberal approaches to Sustainability Education.............................................. 141 Towards an ecological epistemology for education ................................................... 144 In conclusion ............................................................................................................... 148 Chapter 6: The Idea of the Ecological University ...................................................... 149 The emerging discourse of the ecological university .................................................. 150 Critiquing the ecological university............................................................................. 158 Barnett’s approach to the ecological ...................................................................... 158 Epistemology, subjectivity and the curriculum of the ecological university .......... 162 The ecological university as a political project ....................................................... 168 Conclusion: Towards Anthropocene Intelligence in higher education ....................... 171 Chapter 7: Anthropocene Intelligence and being ecological in higher education....... 172 Overview: a model for the ecological in higher education ......................................... 173 Layer 1: The philosophical relationships in an ecological approach to higher education .................................................................................................................................... 175 Layer 2: the context of the ecological university ........................................................ 176 Layer 3: Anthropocene Intelligence as a basis for an ecological approach to higher education .................................................................................................................... 177 The core principles of Anthropocene Intelligence .................................................. 178 Anthropocene Intelligence and the aims and ends of higher education ............... 184 Towards the ecological curriculum - productive relationships in an ecological approach to higher education..................................................................................................... 189 The content, thinking and engagement of the ecological curriculum .................... 190 Healthy universities as a potential productive relationship ................................... 195 P a g e | vi Conclusion: Ongoing productive relationships in an ecological approach to higher education .................................................................................................................... 197 Chapter 8 – The Global policy and practice context for ecological education ............ 198 From neoliberal hegemony to ecological possibilities................................................ 199 Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ................ 201 The global context of higher education policy and practice....................................... 208 The UN DESD and national policy positions emphasising sustainability in higher education ................................................................................................................ 208 International Declarations ...................................................................................... 210 University rankings, assessments and awards ........................................................ 216 Global higher education networks.......................................................................... 223 Concluding statement ................................................................................................. 226 Chapter 9: New Zealand’s higher education context ................................................ 227 The New Zealand political context.............................................................................. 229 New Zealand’s 2017 election .................................................................................. 230 The policy context inherited from National 2009-2017 ......................................... 233 A basis for alternative policy thinking ..................................................................... 236 Higher education policy in New Zealand .................................................................... 238 A brief recent history of tertiary education policy reforms .................................... 239 The Tertiary Education Strategy (2014-2019) ......................................................... 242 The Tertiary Education Strategy after 2019 ............................................................ 245 The National Science Challenges ............................................................................ 247 Higher education practice in New Zealand ................................................................. 251 Research evidence about higher education practice in New Zealand .................... 252 Surveying tertiary education in New Zealand ......................................................... 253 Towards a new approach to higher education policy................................................. 264 Chapter 10: New approaches to policy are possible ................................................. 266 Synthesising the case so far ........................................................................................ 267 An ecological direction for higher education in New Zealand .................................... 270 New Zealand as an ecological democracy .............................................................. 271 New Zealand and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals................. 273 New Zealand as world leaders in Anthropocene education ................................... 274 A transformed Tertiary Education Strategy ............................................................ 275 Review of New Zealand’s tertiary education policies and legislation .................... 276 A national research strategy ................................................................................... 278 P a g e | vii A professional development service for higher education ..................................... 278 An independent monitoring and evaluation service for tertiary education........... 279 Final word - Ecological policy analysis for ecological democracy ............................... 280 References ............................................................................................................. 284 Appendix A: Evaluative matrix for the provision of higher education ....................... 317 P a g e | viii Thesis table of figures Figure 1: Stephen Sterling’s ‘Core Values’ of an ecological paradigm for education ....... 35 Figure 2: Doughnut economics ......................................................................................... 87 Figure 3: Stockholm Resilience Centre Planetary Boundaries ........................................ 106 Figure 4: Global resource use 20th and 21st centuries .................................................. 112 Figure 5: Global footprint analysis .................................................................................. 114 Figure 6: Being ecological in higher education ............................................................... 174 Figure 7: Postfoundational Ecological Theory 2 – Contextual relationships .................. 177 Figure 8: Twelve draft core principles of Anthropocene Intelligence ............................ 178 Figure 9: Being ecological in higher education ............................................................... 191 Figure 10: The Sustainabl...
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