Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics

Time to make nature studies a compulsory school subject – before it’s too late?

SECP member Matt Adams has written a new article for the Conversation advocating a radical approach to teaching nature studies in schools. Matt is a lecturer and interdisciplinary researcher interested in different dimensions of human-nature relationships in the context of climate crisis and the Anthropocene. He has also worked with organizations providing community-based access to nature for marginalised groups. In this article he is responding to the recent publication of the Dasgupta review <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review>, a detailed analysis of the ‘economics of biodiversity’ commissioned by the UK government. Whilst largely focused on finance and economics, the report recommends making ‘nature studies’ compulsory at primary, secondary and tertiary level.  Building on his writing and research in this area, Matt asks whether such a move would have the intended effect of encouraging (more of) us to recognise and act in response to the biodiversity and climate crisis. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he believes a truly radical approach to nature studies would look like must incorporate history, politics, psychology and more besides.  This is because, he argues, how we understand ‘nature’ in the context of an ongoing ecological crisis is inseparable from a history of the kinds of human activities, cultures and societies involved in shaping nature up to the present day. Nature studies, Matt reasons, must also address ongoing histories of injustice and inequality in terms of access to nature, responsibility and power, exposure to environmental harm, and displacement. And yet, a historically and politically informed approach need not take away from the potential transformative power of a collective emphasis on experiential contact with nature from an early age: ‘Who knows how powerful the collective nurturing of a childhood sense of awe and wonder, and a deep, secure, attachment to nature might be, were it allowed to bloom and flourish?

The full text of the article is available here: https://theconversation.com/time-to-make-nature-studies-a-compulsory-school-subject-before-its-too-late-157491#comment_2480518

Ian Sinclair • March 24, 2021


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