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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The global living project : education for ecological sustainability Sutherland, Cindy Joy


In light of the global sustainability challenge there is a growing recognition that human societies which are not living within the means of the natural world will need to undergo a transformation. In Western or Industrial societies this will require a radical rethinking, reconfiguration and reorientation. In order to accomplish this, education will play a crucial role, but while there have been many educational programs which focus on sustainability they have not been all that effective. One attempt which is breaking new ground is the Global Living Project. It is a six week experiment in sustainable living which combines the hands-on practice of attempting to live equitably and sustainably within the means of nature with some theoretical grounding in why this is necessary, and how it may be possible. What does a program such as the Global Living Project offer in terms of supporting and initiating social change? Seeking to answer this question this thesis documents and analyses the first Global Living Project Summer Institute which was held in the Slocan Valley of British Columbia, Canada in 1996. Using a qualitative evaluation process based on my experience as a participant researcher, and supplemented by a review of significant literature, participant responses to two questionnaires and the journal I kept, I identified seven significant aspects of the Global Living Project learning experience. They are: 1. The effect of seeing and experiencing alternative lifestyles. 2. The impact of mentoring or teaching by example. 3. The out-of-mainstream context of the project. 4. The spiritual, emotional and ritual components. 5. The exploration of the concept of community and the community building which occurred. 6. The acquisition of tools for action. 7. The curriculum and pedagogy employed. These seven aspects were instrumental in leading to four outcomes which are significant in terms of moving toward sustainability. These were: 1. That the GLP participants were led to a greater and deeper understanding of both the nature and complexity o f the ecological and socio-political global situation, and a more intense uncovering and questioning of the fundamental assumptions behind Western culture which are the driving force of the problems. 2. That a great deal of personal healing and/or growth took place for many of the GLP participants which resulted in a sense of renewed optimism and sense of personal power. 3. That GLP participants were led to a deeper scrutiny and understanding of personal belief systems and feelings around issues of sustainability and to a greater awareness of their personal purpose and direction within the sustainability movement. 4. That GLP participants had an expanded recognition of possible paths for action and of the actuality of putting them in practice. I conclude that if global ecological sustainability is to become a reality, then we need both to integrate these aspects into other environment education endeavours, especially at a community level, and also encourage and support more program such as the Global Living Project.

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