The work of environmental educators and activists in India and South Africa offers new models for schooling and environmental activism.
Education has never played as critical a role in determining humanity's future as it does in the Anthropocene, an era marked by humankind's unprecedented control over the natural environment. Drawing on a multisited ethnographic project among schools and activist groups in India and South Africa, Peter Sutoris explores education practices in the context of impoverished, marginal communities where environmental crises intersect with colonial and racist histories and unsustainable practices. He exposes the depoliticizing effects of schooling and examines cross-generational knowledge transfer within and beyond formal education. Finally, he calls for the bridging of schooling and environmental activism, to find answers to the global environmental crisis.
The onset of the Anthropocene challenges the very definition of education and its fundamental goals, says Sutoris. Researchers must look outside conventional models and practices of education for inspiration if education is to live up to its responsibilities at this critical time. For decades, environmental activist movements in some countries have wrestled with questions of responsibility and action in the face of environmental destruction; they inhabited the mental world of the Anthropocene before much of the rest of the world. Sutoris highlights an innovative research methodology of participatory observational filmmaking, describing how films made by children in the Indian and South African communities provide a window into the ways that young people make sense of the future of the Anthropocene. It is through their capacity to imagine the world differently, Sutoris argues, that education can reinvent itself.