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Ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education : the case of Shia people of Fashapooyeh village, Tehran county, Iran. Eskandari, Mahtab


The main questions addressed in this study are in the domains of ecological literacy, environmental ethics and contextual conceptions of education. Hence the study uses the case of Shia people of Iran and their environmental ethics to investigate the trans-historical realities in conceptualizing science-humanism in association with dominant notions of nature, the environment and ecology. In particular, special focus is directed at understandings and practices associated with environmental education in the context of local Shia people in Fashapooyeh, a traditional village in the county of Tehran in Iran. Major cultural ways of education existing in this context were explored, and their relation to contextual ontologies were examined. Thus, methodologically, the study employed articulation of dis-orientalising strategies in order to avoid oriental dogmas with respect to the particular context of the study. In this way, interpretive analytic case study methods, which drew heavily on critical ethnographic methods of field observations and interviews, were used in data collection. Revelations from the analysis of the data corpus include 1) among Shia people, actions towards/about/for/with nature are governed by ethics of religion, and they are governed by the Shia conception of humanism; 2) Everyday life schedules are interestingly governed by key calendar markers where contemporary discourses are a function of interaction between Indigeneity and modernity; 3) The Shia understanding of life is in close relation with understanding the order of nature, and that Shia identity and environmental health practices are not mutually exclusive. The findings challenge the current dominant concept of ecological literacy and its foundational preoccupation of nature, the environment, cosmos citizenship, balance and specifically the notion of literacy. These findings or revelations suggest new perspectives on conceptualizing ecological literacy in relation to ontological approaches to contemporary cultures. The outcomes challenge current dominant approaches to the concept of sustainability, and offer insight into how we might re-conceptualize and teach sustainability as a way of life grounded in their relative contextual ontologies. In the realm of Indigenous studies, the findings suggest processes of theorizing and analyzing research in respect to their particular contextual ethics and ontologies.

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