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To an eco-centric and holistic pedagogy

To an eco-centric and holistic pedagogy

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

In news:

  • COVID-19 has affected economies, stranded people, hit education, work and travel, and cut short people’s lives.
  • The pandemic has taught one lesson for humanity; it is that people, places and non-human entities and processes are
  • These connections have long been ignored in most spheres, including economic landscapes, food systems and pedagogies.

COVID lessons not enough:

  • At this time, there has been a lot of emphasis about investing in a “green economy” with more renewables, reduced motorised transport or travel, and more working from home.
  • These are all good ideas but they are not holistic.
  • In another 15-18 months, perhaps with a vaccine in place, the understanding gained during the lockdown may be forgotten.
  • The green economy, as promising as it could be to tackle climate change, may leave the discourse on development untouched.
  • In order to bring long-lasting andtransformational changes to connect sustainably with the web of life, there is a need to change the way we educate ourselves.

History is set in periods divided by wars and victors, but should include ecological changes to the landscape in a region as part of the lesson.

Just as there was a movement in history to include narratives of the subaltern, there is a need for integration with ecological connections and changes.

For examples,

  1. What were the consequences, for instance, of the British building railways across the country for better extraction of resources?
  2. Trains were earlier powered by wood from deforestation.
  3. Where did the wood come from and what was the local effect on people and forest cover?
  4. Similarly, geography must describe the land and the forests, how cities develop and what these changes do to the coast and the hinterland, water bodies and the commons.

Holistic approach to education:

  • There is a renewed interest in using more illustrations and models to enliven learning in the sciences.
  • Biology and chemistry need not begin with the periodic table, reactions and cells, but start by framing the organism and cells as located within a milieu where materials, energy and information are exchanged.
  • Chemistry could begin with cycles such as the nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus,and water cycles, which link together the biosphere, rocks and minerals.
  • This type of teaching and learningwill not do away with previously taught knowledge.
  • It introduces a holismwhere there is reductionism, and the foundation would be the linkages across human and non-human entities.

Inter disciplinary approach:

  • Real-world problems in science, technology, and public policysuch as climate change typically cannot be addressed adequately from the perspective of any single discipline.
  • Experts in the natural sciences, engineering, and social sciencesare needed to identify how problems develop as well as the technological and behavior change needed to mitigate them.
  • Climate scientistsare needed to understand how the climate is likely to change. Engineers are needed to develop technologies to reduce future emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Psychologistsand other behavioral scientists are needed to understand the main drivers of human behavior, as well as how to design communications and interventions that tackle those drivers in a way that promotes needed behavior change.

Small beginnings:

  • Such new learning would set the grounds for understanding climate change from rising anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
  • There has been a small movement to include the anthropogenic changes we have wrought on the earth into fields of inquiry such as literature, culture studies and history.
  • Still, this inclusive thinking is not mainstream.
  • A significant level of unlearning will have to be done along with new learning.
  • Curriculum developers will have to restructureand rebuild materials used to impart knowledge.

Ecocentric education:

  • Ecocentrismhas roots in environmental philosophy, which questions the conceptual dichotomy between humans and environment, acknowledging nonhuman species’ right to flourish independent of human interest.
  • Generally, ecocentrism refers to a planet- and nature-centered,as opposed to human-centered (anthropocentric), system of values.
  • Inspired by this philosophy, ecocentric education focuses on intrinsic values of ecosystem, environment, and individual living beings and habitats in environmental education (EE)and education for sustainable development (ESD).
  • The Gaia hypothesisput forth by James Lovelock is an ecological theory proposing that living creatures and the physical world are in a complex interacting system that maintains equilibrium. 
  • One might imagine the COVID-19 crisis as Gaia giving us a warning, showing how flimsy human life and the structures we rely upon are.
  • Unchecked rapaciousnesshas been unleashed by policies that support “growth at any cost”.

It will ultimately fail since all goods used in any economy arise from the natural world. Our educational system needs to lay down the bricks for this understanding.

Source:” The Hindu “.


In combating new age problems like climate change; an interdisciplinary and holistic pedagogy is needed. Elaborate.