Learning, Environment and Sustainable Development : A History of Ideas book cover
1st Edition

Learning, Environment and Sustainable Development
A History of Ideas

ISBN 9780367221935
Published November 12, 2020 by Routledge
214 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $44.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book is an introduction to the long history of human learning, the environment and sustainable development – about our struggles with the natural world: first for survival, then for dominance, currently for self-preservation, and in future perhaps, even for long-term, mutually beneficial co-existence. It charts the long arc of human–environment relationships through the specific lens of human learning, putting on record many of the people, ideas and events that have contributed, often unwittingly, to the global movement for sustainable development.

Human learning has always had a focus on the environment. It’s something we’ve been engaged in ever since we began interacting with our surroundings and thinking about the impacts, outcomes and consequences of our actions and interactions. This unique story told by the authors is episodic rather than a connected, linear account; it probes, questions and re-examines familiar issues from novel perspectives, and looks ahead. The book is of particular interest to those studying (and teaching) courses with a focus on socio-economic and environmental sustainability, and non-governmental organisations whose work brings them face-to-face with the general public and social enterprises.

Table of Contents

Section 1 Past Historic
1. Humans Being
2. Playing and Learning in the Mesolithic
3. Earth Mother – Mother Earth
4. In the Beginning
5. Virgil’s Georgics
6. How the Greenland Norse Chose
7. Science and the Ecological Imagination
8. Francis Bacon and the Interrogation of Nature
9. Descartes, the World and the Method
10. Rousseau wrote Emile; Pestalozzi made it real
11. The 18th Century (sustainable) Development Goals
12. The English Romantic Poets
13. Public Education and the Industrial Revolution
14. Alexander von Humboldt
15. John Clare’s Enclosure
16. Marx in Nature
17. Thoreau and Walden
18. The Significance of John Muir
19. Friluftsliv
20. Patrick Geddes
21. John Dewey and the Ecology of Learning
22. Blud und Boden
23. This Land is your Land
Section 2 Present Imperfect
24. Rachel Carson’s Silence
25. The Road to Tbilisi
26. Gaia
27. Forest School Origins
28. The Early UN Conferences
29. Prepositions and the Environment
30. How Deep is your Ecology?
31. Environmentally Educated Teachers
32. Are Significance Life Experiences always Significant?
33. Faith, Hope, Charity and the Ecological Crisis
34. The Earth Charter
35. The Behaviour of Models
36. The Coming of ESD
37. Green Still does not Always Mean Go
38. The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?
39. In Competence we Trust
40. Environmental Learning
41. Extinction? Rebellion?
Section 3 Future Possible
42. Behind the Cenes: What Stories Shall We Tell?
43. Being Human
1 A Brief History of Environment and Learning in England
2 A Brief History of Environment and Learning in the USA
3 A Brief History of Environment and Learning in Germany
4 The Sustainable Development Goals

View More



William Scott is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Bath, UK, and is Chair of Trustees of the UK’s National Association for Environmental Education. He was one of the founding editors of the Routledge journal, Environmental Education Research.

Paul Vare is Research Convener for the School of Education at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. He has worked internationally in the voluntary sector, with large corporations and national governments, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on education for sustainable development.



"The beauty of Scott and Vare’s co-authored books are their ability to communicate in a concise, clear and clever manner leading the reader to think about environmental teaching from new and potentially ‘rebellious’ perspectives. Learning, Environment and Sustainable Development: a history of ideas should be essential reading for all educators, regardless of their teaching context, experience or subject specialism, as it challenges us to reflect on the sources of our own values and to re-consider why and how we want to teach in the future." - Dr Melissa Glackin, Senior Lecturer in Science Education, King’s College London

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book and know that it will impact the way we think about environmental learning. It is cleverly written, crammed full of short, sharp ideas over three periods of the human world. The book is aimed at placing current environmental learning within the context of the past and in so doing explaining the present while envisioning scenarios in the environmental future we face. The book involves the reader and, importantly, invites them to think. Drawing on religion, politics, poetry, music, philosophy and science, this is a highly engaging book with extremely wide appeal." -  Dr Kim Walker, Associate Professor in Environmental Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

"This book offers a great overview of the history of human-environment relationships, focusing on human thinking and learning about the environment. Scott and Vare show that we can learn from the past for thinking about environmental education for the future. This book is a valuable resource for all those involved in environmental education and education for sustainable development." - Professor Marco Rieckmann, University of Vechta, Germany

Brimming with thought-provoking stories, this book follows a remarkable chronology of perspectives by exploring how religion and science, writers, philosophers, sociologists, policy-makers and poets have imagined and re-imagined our relations with nature. This book would be an excellent read for anyone beginning their journey in environmental education as it tells the stories through which environmental education has emerged. It is a book I wish I had read 20 years ago!" – Raichael Lock