Tolerance: Principles, Practices, Obstacles, Limits

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During the Rio'92 event the Treaty on Environmental Education for Sustainable Societies and Global Responsibility was written establishing sixteen fundamental principles of education for sustainable societies, emphasizing the need for a critical thinking, for a collective and solidary doing, for interdisciplinarity, and for multiplicity and diversity.

It equally establishes a set of collective commitments for the planetary civil society. In Thessaloniki in , the document resulting from the International Conference on Environment and Society: Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability underlines the themes proposed at the Eco'92, and draws attention to the need to articulate actions of environmental education based on the concepts of ethics and sustainability, cultural identity and diversity, mobilization and participation, in addition to interdisciplinary practices.

What the researchers observe is that the recommendations are vague and with no significant practical results, many of them just serving to feed the logic of the market and the liberal policies. The planetary initiatives to agree on practices of environmental education leave clear the challenge of building a conceptual formulation that can establish a communication between the social and exact sciences.


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This reform of the thinking allows the integration of the context and the complex, embracing the interrelations, multi-dimensionalities, and dynamics that respect and assimilate the unity and the diversity, based on ethical principles and on the recognition of the differences Morin, ; Morin et al. The paradigm of complexity sets the challenge of the dialogue between certainty and uncertainty, helping individuals to experience a reality characterized by indeterminacy, interdependence, and the causality between different processes.

This, however, should not turn into a conceptual and methodological straitjacket, but in an articulation between the subjective and objective processes present in the production of knowledge and of meanings. To reflect upon the environmental complexity opens up a stimulating space to understand the gestation of new social actors that mobilize to incorporate nature, to an educative process articulated and committed to sustainability and participation, supported by a logic that favors dialogue and interdependence of different areas of knowledge.

But the reflection also questions values and premises that guide the prevailing social practices, implying a change in the way of thinking, a transformation of knowledge and of educative practices. It is ever more clear the complexity of the process of transformation of a planet not just increasingly threatened but directly affected by socioenvironmental risks and damages. Floriani , p. The need to approach the theme of environmental complexity follows from the perception of the incipient process of reflection about the existing practices and the multiples possibilities that present themselves to define reality, when thinking it in a complex way, as a new rationality and a space in which nature, technique and culture articulate.

Environmental Education: challenges and construction of practices of environmental citizenship. The theoretical premises around the dialogue of knowledges between education and environment, in its multiple dimensions and as theoretical field under construction, have been incorporated in different ways by environmental educators seeking a new transversality of knowledges, a new way of thinking, researching and creating knowledge that allows the integration of theory and practice.

It must, however, be remarked that the educational practices inserted at the interface of the socioenvironmental problems have to be understood as part of the social macro-system, obeying the existing development context that shapes their pedagogical and political directions. When we refer to environmental education, we situate it in a wider context, that of the education for citizenship , in which it constitutes a principal element in the consolidation of citizen subjects Jacobi, The main line of action must seek, above all, the solidarity, the equality and the respect for the difference through democratic forms of action based on interactive and dialogic practices.

Thus, the exercise of citizenship implies autonomy and responsible freedom, participation in the political democratic sphere and in the social life. Citizens develop actions of social integration, conservation of the environment, social justice, solidarity, safety and tolerance, which constitute concerns of current society. The idea is then to sensitize students and teachers to a more conscious participation in the context of society, questioning behaviors, attitudes and values, and also proposing new practices. Our argument goes therefore in the direction of reiterating that educative practices articulated with the environmental problems should not be seen as an adjective, but as an integral part of an education process that emphasizes a way of thinking education geared towards reflecting upon environmental education in a context of environmental crisis, of growing insecurity and uncertainty before the risks produced by the global society, which, in synthesis, can be summarized as a civilization crisis of a model of society.

Tolerance: Principles Practices Obstacles Limits

In this sense, the formulation found in Leff , p. The objective is of affording new attitudes and behaviors towards consumption in our society, and of stimulating change in individual and collective values Jacobi, This requires thinking critically about environmental education and, therefore, the definition of an ethical-political standpoint, "situating the conceptual and political environment where environmental education can search for its foundation as an educative project that intends to change society" Carvalho, , p.

From the syntheses elaborated by Lima , p. The conservative approach, based on a reformist vision, proposes instrumental answers. It can actually be seen that its predominant modus operandi is of punctual actions, decontextualized from the generator themes, frequently unattached to a pedagogical proposal, not questioning the civilization pattern, just reinforcing a simplistic and reductionist view. The emancipative approach, having as a reference in the field of education the critical thinking Paulo Freire, Snyder, Giroux 6 and, with respect to the environment, authors such as Capra, Morin, Leff, and Boff, amongst others, proposes an education based on practices, guidelines and contents that transcend the preservation of the environment.

Paraphrasing Morin , p. For the critical stance, environmental education needs to build instruments to promote a critical attitude, a complex understanding and the politicization of the environmental issue, the participation of the subjects, making explicit an emphasis on less rigid social practices, centered on the cooperation between actors. Under the perspective of reflective modernization , environmental education has to face the fragmentation of knowledge and develop a critical and political, but also reflective, approach.

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The environmental dimension represents thus the possibility of dealing with connections between different human dimensions, allowing interweaving and movement between multiple knowledges. Currently, the challenge of strengthening the education for a convergent and multi-referenced environmental citizenship emerges as a priority to make viable an educative practice that articulates incisively the need to face simultaneously the environmental crisis and the social problems. Thus, the understanding about the environmental problems happens through viewing the environment as a field of knowledge and socially constructed meanings, traversed by cultural and ideological diversity and by the conflicts of interest.

Educators must be ever more prepared to rework the information they receive and, among them, the environmental, so that they can transmit and decode for the students the expression of the meanings around the environment and ecology in their multiple determinations and intersections. Within this context, the management of the socioenvironmental risks reveals more and more clearly the need to expand the involvement of the public through initiatives that raise the level of concern of educators with the environment, guaranteeing the information and the institutional consolidation of open channels for participation in a pluralist perspective.

In this way, environmental education increasingly assumes the form of an active intellectual process, as a social learning, based on dialogue and interaction in a constant process of rebirth and reinterpretation of information, concepts and meanings originated from the learning at the classroom and from the student's personal experience.

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The approach to the environment at the school takes on the role of articulating the knowledges of the various disciplines in a context in which the contents are resignified. By interfering in the learning process and in the perceptions and representations about the relation between individuals and environment in the daily behaviors that impact the quality of life, environmental education promotes the instruments for the construction of a critical view, reinforcing practices that make explicit the need to problematize and act upon the socioenvironmental problems, having as horizon, based on an understanding of the conflicts, the sharing of an ethics concerned with environmental justice.

The new perspective is related to the way in which the object of knowledge is apprehended, and to the dynamics that is created between the social actors who propose a new form of integration and articulation of the environmental knowledge. This approach tries to overcome reductionism and stimulate the thinking and doing about the environment directly connected to the dialogue of knowledges, to participation, to the ethical values as fundamental values to strengthen the complex interaction between society and nature.

In this sense, the role of teachers is essential to boost the transformations of an education that commits itself to the sustainable development and also to the future generations. This leads us to reflect upon the need to prepare a reflective professional to develop practices that articulate education and environment in a critical perspective, that open vistas to an ecological participation grounded on the principles of creativity and on the ability to formulate and develop emancipative practices guided by the empowerment and by social and environmental justice.

The insertion of environmental education into a critical perspective occurs as the teacher assumes a reflective posture. This stimulates the understanding of environmental education as a political-pedagogical practice, and represents the possibility of motivating and sensitizing people to transform the various forms of participation into potential factors to invigorate society and to expand the socioenvironmental responsibility.

The latter will materialize chiefly by the growing presence of a plurality of actors which, through the activation of their potential for participation, will be more and more prepared to intervene consistently and unsupervised in the decision processes of public interest, legitimizing and consolidating proposals of management based on guaranteeing the access to information and on the consolidation of open channels to participation.

The interdisciplinary experiences are recent and incipient, even at the graduate level. The first challenge is "to face the multiplicity of visions", and that implies preparing the educator to make the connections Capra, , p.


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Thus, understanding the environmental complexity, not as a "fad" or "reification" or "indiscriminate usage", but as construction of meanings fundamental to identify interpretations and generalizations made in the name of the environment and ecology. The second challenge is "to overcome the specialist's view", and to that end the path is the rupture with disciplinary practices.

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The third challenge is "to overcome the pedagogy of certainties", and that aligns with the premises that guide the preparation of the "reflective teacher", which implies understanding modernity, the "produced risks" Giddens, , p. The fourth challenge is to overcome the logic of exclusion, which adds to the challenge of sustainability the need to overcome the social inequalities.

The current moment is for consolidating pedagogical practices that stimulate interdisciplinarity in its diversity. We draw from Stengers , p. It is, indeed, a fashionable notion, and such fashion harbors a trap. The trap of the big discourses about complexity".

The challenge of interdisciplinarity is faced as a learning process that seeks to create transversal cuts into the understanding and explanation of the context of teaching and research, aiming for the interaction between the disciplines and overcoming the scientific compartmentalization brought about by the excessive specialization. As a combination of several areas of knowledge, interdisciplinarity presupposes the development of interactive methodologies, defining the scope of the approaches and considering a new articulation of the connections between the natural, social and exact sciences.

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It is worth pointing out that the epistemological context of Environmental Education allows an open, process-based and reflective knowledge derived from a complex and multi-referenced articulation. In this sense, transdisciplinary knowledge emerges as a bolder horizon of knowledge. To Morin , p. The preoccupation to consolidate a dynamics of teaching and research based on an interdisciplinary perspective emphasizes the importance of the social processes that determine the forms of incorporation of nature and its transformations through the social participation in the management of environmental resources, taking into account the evolution dimension in its widest sense, and including the connections between the biological and cultural diversities, as well as the practices of the various social actors and the impact of their relation with the environment.

In this way, the emphasis on interdisci-plinarity in the analysis of environmental questions derives from the observation that the problems affecting and sustaining life in our planet are of a global nature, and that the comprehension of their causes cannot be confined to the strictly biological factors, overlooking the political, economic, institutional, social and cultural dimensions. However, it is not enough for the interdisciplinary exercise to gather different disciplines. Environmental education must be founded on systematic exchanges and on an association of disciplinary knowledges that includes more than just problems at the interface of the various natural and social sciences, and that will only materialize from an organic action of the several disciplines overcoming the multidisciplinary view.

Considering that the environmental problems transcend the different disciplines, both the disciplinary intensification and the expansion of knowledge between disciplines constitute essential elements, although of great complexity as to their implementation.

Taking as a point of departure a complex socioenvironmental reality, this process increasingly demands the internalization of an emergent environmental knowledge in a group of disciplines, aiming at the construction of a field of knowledge capable of capturing the multi-causalities and the relation of interdependence of the processes of natural and social orders that determine the socioenvironmental structures and changes.

We conclude by saying that the political-ethical challenge of Environmental Education, founded on the transformation potential of the social relations, is closely related to the process of strengthening of democracy and construction of an environmental citizenship. In this sense, the role of educators and teachers is essential to boost the transformations of an education that assumes a commitment to the creation of a critical view, based on values, and of an ethics to the construction of an environmentally sustainable society.

The need for a growing internalization of the environmental issue, a knowledge still under construction, demands an effort to reinforce integrating views that, centered on development, stimulate the reflection around the diversity and the construction of meanings in the individual-nature relationships, in the global and local environmental risks, and in the environment-development relationships. Within this context, Environmental Education points to the need to formulate pedagogical proposals centered on improved awareness, change of attitudes and social practices, development of knowledges, capacity to evaluate, and the participation of those being educated.

The relation between environment and education assumes an ever more challenging role, demanding the emergence of new knowledges to apprehend social processes more and more complex, and environmental risks that intensify.