Global Citizenship Education and Sustainability Otherwise

Global Citizenship Education and Sustainability Otherwise

Rene Suša (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Vanessa Andreotti (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Sharon Stein (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Cash Ahenakew (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Tereza Čajkova (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Dino Kuperman Siwek (Terra Adentro, Brazil), Camilla Cardoso (Terra Adentro, Brazil), and Ninawa Huni Kui (Federation of the Huni Kui Indigenous People, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4402-0.ch001
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This chapter presents a selection of theoretical and pedagogical frameworks for global citizenship education (GCE) otherwise of the “Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures” (GTDF) collective. The authors discuss the challenges of addressing the depth and complexity of existing global challenges, in particular as they relate to the questions of (un)sustainability and inherent systemic violence and injustices of modern societies. They begin by introducing the basic premises that guide the work of the GTDF collective and then proceed to map different (soft, critical, and beyond reform) approaches to GCE. The chapter also introduces the pedagogical metaphors/cartographies of the “House of Modernity,” the “Bus,” and the “In Earth's CARE” pedagogical framework and provides links and references to other pedagogical experiments, developed by the collective.
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The ideas and frameworks presented in this chapter are informed by the work and pedagogical experiences of the members of the “Gesturing towards decolonial futures” (GTDF) collective. The collective is an international assemblage of researchers, artists, educators, students, social justice and environmental activists and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Our work brings together concerns related to racism, colonialism, unsustainability, climate change, economic instability, physical and mental health crises, as well as the intensification of social and ecological violence. The work of the collective is multifaceted, but global (citizenship) education (GCE) and education related to various aspects of (un)sustainability lie at the core of our activities and concerns.

Unlike many other educational initiatives, the pedagogical frameworks developed by the GTDF collective start from the premise of questioning our normalized assumptions, beliefs and investments in the continuity of the kind of life and social structures that we have been socialized into. Drawing on the insights and contributions from different communities around the world, but especially from Indigenous communities in contexts of high intensity struggles in Latin America and Canada, the work of the collective has often been described as a decolonial, (non-Western) psychoanalytical approach to global education. This means that in our analysis and propositions we explore what kind of pedagogical practice and theory is required when we take the inherent unsustainability and multifaceted violences and injustices of our modern societies seriously. In this context, taking them seriously means that unsustainability, violences and injustices are not considered to be an unintended and unfortunate side effect of the kind of societies that we have, but are instead seen as essential pre-conditions for their continued existence. In terms of environmental and sustainability issues, as well as other topics, this means that our pedagogical frameworks are not questioning merely our collective and individual capacity, but above all our willingness to adopt the necessary changes and transformations that would be required to address the many destructive patterns that consciously and unconsciously guide a substantial part of our shared and socially sanctioned behaviour.

In this, the work of the GTDF collective often goes against the grain of the common approaches to pedagogy where more and better knowledge is considered to be the main vehicle that informs changes in our thinking, which in turn is supposed to lead to changes in our behaviour that would ultimately translate into changes in our societies. Such approaches usually operate from the underlying assumption that when given the right knowledge, skills and opportunities, people will act in ways that are beneficial to everyone. Unfortunately, this is simply unrealistic. Perceived short-term self-interest more often than not outweighs long-term collective (or even personal) benefits. This has been well documented in literature both on “difficult learning” (Pitt & Britzman, 2004; Taylor, 2013; Zembylas, 2014) and in research about public attitudes towards climate change (Bendell, 2018; Foster, 2015; Marshall, 2015; Stoknes, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Affective Justice: Healing and transforming our socially conditioned patterns of affective tendencies and disposition. It includes, but is not limited to: developing the stamina to engage with discomfort and uncertainty without feeling overwhelmed or irritated; learning to access the unconscious and to sit with internal complexities, paradoxes and contradictions; identifying and starting to compost individual and collective projections, attachments, traumas and insecurities; learning to interrupt intellectualizations in order to sense, relate and show up differently to oneself and to the world.

Ecological or Environmental Justice: Healing and transforming our relationship with the cycles of the wider metabolism of the planet that we are part of. This includes, but is not limited to: developing pedagogical practices in which humans are not seen as separated from the land/planet; reflecting on the challenges of co-existence from different perspectives, including those of non-human beings; grappling with the complexities of addressing complicities in ecological harm; opening up possibilities for adjacent (viable, but unimaginable) possibilities of thinking, relating and being; developing stamina and resiliency for the slow and challenging work that needs to be done in the long term.

Economic Justice: Healing and transforming the ways in which we conduct our material and non-material exchanges. Above all it refers to a need for interrupting a consumption-oriented mode of relating to the world, where consumption does not refer merely to consuming material goods, but also knowledges and experiences that can be extracted through interaction with others. It entails a need for interrupting a utility-maximizing (self-interested) way of being in the world that decentres personal desires and centres collective (or metabolic) needs. It includes learning to practice economies (material and non-material exchanges) based on abundance, reciprocity, and redistribution.

Cognitive Justice (see Also Abyssal Thinking): Healing and transforming our patterns of thinking. This includes deepening analyses of historical and systemic forms of violence and critically examining the various assumptions, desires, and complicities in harm. Cognitive justice involves thinking in multiple layers that acknowledges the tensions and paradoxes at the intersection of different histories, contexts, and worldviews. Disinvestments from the harmful desires for universal, totalizing knowledge, superiority, certainty, and control may be considered as pre-conditions for developing cognitive justice. The struggle for cognitive justice also compels a need for making space for the unknown and the unknowable that is not possible without relinquishing the arrogance of universal reason and without responding in generative ways to teachings that challenge one’s self-image and knowledge of the world.

House of Modernity: A pedagogical metaphor that sees modernity as a habit of being that is based on the foundation of separability (see below), supported by twin carrying walls of universal reason and nation state, sheltered by the roof of global capitalism.

Separability: A specific, modern way of being in the world that see humans as autonomous individuals that are separate from the nature and from each other. See also da Silva (2007) .

Relational Justice (see Also Visceral Responsibility): Healing and transforming our patterns of relating. Relational justice includes learning to form genuine relationships without idealizations or negative and instrumentalizing projections. It also includes exploring different possibilities for being and relating that are not grounded on shared meaning, identity or conviction, but that stem from sensing oneself as a part of a wider metabolism (planet/land) and of different collective bodies (group/community). Relational justice also refers to ethical engagements with the difficulties and complexities of forming relations between individuals and groups that assume different positions in the established hierarchies of privilege and power.

Bus: A pedagogical metaphor that sees the self as multi-layered (decks of the bus) and multi-faceted (passengers on the bus). The self of the bus is not equivalent to the singular, bodily encapsulated self that represents the mainstream understanding of the self in Western psychoanalysis.

Modern/Cartesian Subject: A way of being, grounded on the Cartesian idea that thinking defines being (I think therefore I am), whereby this thinking is considered to be both self-transparent (we can know what we think) and universal (we all use the same logic). See also: Andreotti (2016a) and Suša (2016) .

Affective Investment: An often unconscious, pre-cognitive, set of dispositions and beliefs that pre-determine what we consider desirable, relevant, and possible.

Metabolic Entanglement: An inverse notion to separability where are all beings are seen not merely as connected to each other, or as parts of each other, but rather as coexisting within each other at all times. See also Mika (2017) .

Abyssal Thinking: A term, coined by Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2007) that refers to a specific particularity of modern Western thinking that divides the world into what can be thought of, understood, and/or imagined and everything else. By assuming that only what can be imagined can also exist, modern thinking actively erases from reality and existence anything that it cannot imagine. Thus, it creates an abyss between what it can and cannot imagine. The fundamental characteristic of abyssal thinking is that it does not allow for the co-presence of what is imaginable and of that which is not. What modern thinking cannot imagine is actively produced as non-existing, irrelevant, and untrue.

Visceral Responsibility: Unlike responsibility that is based on choice afforded by the notion of separability, visceral (entangled or embodied) responsibility is unconditional and pre-cognitive, that is, it precedes rational thinking and the choice making process. Much as one automatically pulls back a hand while touching a dangerously hot object (without thinking), so does visceral responsibility compel action without a need for rationalization. Similarly, Spivak (2004) writes of “responsibility to the other, before will.”

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