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Teaching Environments

Ecocritical Encounters

Roman Bartosch and Sieglinde Grimm

The essays in this collection seek to bring together current developments in ecocriticism and the pedagogical practice of teaching English at all levels, from primary schools to Higher Education. They cover theoretical and practical discussions of the nexus between the sciences and the humanities and maintain that the notion of the two cultures be refused for good, they argue for the inclusion of particular texts or theoretical perspectives, and they suggest ways to teaching environments on different levels of language competence and in the context of historical and transdisciplinary encounters with ecology, nature, and animals. Despite this variety, they share some common threads and engage with questions that are highly relevant for teaching in general and have acquired even more relevance in our rapidly changing and posthumanist teaching environments: How do we raise consciousness without preaching? What kind of critical attitude is required for the empowerment of our pupils and students? How do we actually imagine encounters between the sciences and the (post)humanities, and which texts, what kind of texts, and which approaches will prove most fruitful?


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Teaching Environments: How ‘Green’ Can—and Should—a Classroom Be? Roman Bartosch & Sieglinde Grimm (Cologne) Although many reports and studies pessimistically agree that by far, not enough has been done to mitigate the looming environmental crisis, and that time is indeed running out, the recent years have seen a noteworthy change with regard to the role the humanities and arts have been assigned in these troubled times. Only six years after Sylvia Mayer and Graham Wilson’s publication Ecodidactic Perspectives on English Language, Literatures and Cultures, the notion that “[t]he environmental crisis [...] is, in fact, a cultural crisis” (Mayer & Wilson 2006: 1; see also Buell 1995: 2 and Kerridge 1998: 4) seems to have become received opinion. Since the 1970s, UNESCO reports have been speaking of “environmental education” and, in contrast to a common understanding of such an educational objective in terms of an education aiming at scientific or engineering knowledge, the 2002 UNESCO report cited by Mayer and Wilson maintains that the “movement towards sustainable development depends more on the development of our moral sensitivities than on the growth of our scientific understanding” (cited in Mayer & Wilson 2006: 1). Six years later, as we are writing this introduction, much more has changed. The recent report on education for sustainable development (UNESCO 2012) states even more clearly that education, a change of attitudes and, more generally, human ethical relationships with the biosphere and non-human others must precede any technological or scientific ‘fix’ of the crises ahead. Numerous studies and collections...

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