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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

Global Environmental Education, Ecological Ethics and Legal Education Event

24 April 2013
Room 4/2055

For more information regarding this event, please email Emily Reid at .

Event details

A Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation Research Seminar

The education for sustainable development (ESD) movement now has global reach, involving education sectors at different levels and creating research and learning networks which seek to locate sustainability in mainstream education policy and practice. The idea of introducing sustainable development into legal education is now gaining currency, joining up with concerns about how legal academics and law students can contribute to their local communities.

This idea forms part of an on-going debate about how well law students are being prepared for work in highly challenging social, environmental, and financial circumstances, against a backdrop of broader questions about ‘What are universities for?’ In this talk I discuss the shaping and possibly reforming potential of environmental education in law. I first draw up a scale of environmental education theories, detailing the key points of theoretical influence – ecological intelligence, sustainability literacy and education for sustainable development (ESD). These points are arranged according to their propensity for radically transforming the current content and disciplinary structure of education and posing a direct challenge to prevailing academic cultures and practices in university education. In analysing the current environmental education agenda according to this scale, I identify an emphasis upon individualism, with strategies being put into place in order to develop students’ environmental skills or graduate attributes to help them enter and contribute to the ‘green economy’ workplace.

In developing a critical analysis of this individualist approach, I suggest that this reduces the opportunities available in universities to develop a broader, creative, and radical agenda of social change. However, drawing upon the scale of environmental educational theories, and applying ideas about how networks of community and communities of practice interact and exchange values and beliefs, it is clear that some promising points of contact exist between legal and environmental education in the form of legal practice and clinical education which encourages activism at a local level.

From the perspective of ecological ethics, it is also possible to identify flashes of radicalism in examples of teaching from the perspective of Earth Jurisprudence or Wild Law. These developments suggest the possibility of genuine engagement between the legal academy and legal profession and the ideas of social and ecological sustainability, although some barriers to such far-reaching engagement remain, taking the form of entrenched disciplinary boundaries and professional standard setting.

All welcome for what I am sure will be a thought provoking seminar.

Further information is available from: Emily Reid ( ) or Oren Ben Dor ( )

Speaker information

Jane Holder ,UCL,Professor in Environmental Law

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