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Fieldwork, schooling and sustainability: A Tasmanian case


Johnston, R, Fieldwork, schooling and sustainability: A Tasmanian case, Schooling for Sustainable Development: A Focus on Australia, New Zealand and the Oceanic Region, Springer, M. Robertson (ed), New York, pp. 87-100. ISBN 978-94-007-2882-0 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V

DOI: doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2882-0_6


In the Australian island state of Tasmania, and in particular in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, matters to do with development and the environment are highly contentious. Young people live within a highly contested environment at the local level and at the same time are not isolated from heated Australian national and global debates about sustainability and issues connected with the climate. Widespread flooding in Queensland and Victoria, bushfires in Western Australia and a category five cyclone in Far North Queensland in a 2010-2011 summer of disasters in Australia have ramped up the level of public debate about sustainability and related issues of climate change. Commentators, academics, cartoonists, and politicians along with community members - all have had their say. A Petty cartoon (Petty 2011) juxtaposed a banner with the words "Flood of climate change evidence" (p. 12) with an,image of a miner (representing the "coal lobby") in denial and calling for "more sandbags" (Petty 2011, p. 5). AU of these events have occurred against a backdrop of publicity surrounding the Copenhagen and Cancun climate conferences about which public opinion as well as expert advice were sorely divided. "Green politics" and community passions go ''hand in hand" in Tasmania, notably and most recently, in relation to the proposed pulp and paper mill of Gunns Limited at Bell Bay near the mouth of the Tamar estuary - as the local newspaper, in a time line of pulp mill decisions and resistances, reminds its readers ("Pulp Mill" 2011).

For almost a decade, the Tasmanian State Government and Gunns Limited have been in close communication. State government/Gunns Limited conversations raising the prospect of a pulp mill for Tasmania began in 2003 and resulted in a series of protest rallies, one of which attracted a crowd of more than 10, 000 people protesting "the mill approval process" ("Pulp Mill" 2011, p. 5). The interplay of power politics and community agency connected with the pulp mill raises issues of sustainability and civics and citizenship, both key concerns for teachers in Tasmanian schools. Within the Tasmanian curriculum and nationally, Civics and Citizenship is a mandated area of study (Department of Education [DoE] Tasmania 2007) and, at State level, "sustainability" is described as "an important cross-curricular perspective" (DoE Tasmania 2008a, para. 1).

This chapter considers education for sustainability at this highly contentious local level as well as within local, national and global policy contexts - and draws on Tasmanian research exploring society and environment curriculum within teacher education. Readers may feel that the issues facing teachers relate only to managing contentious issues in the classroom. Yet others may ask, what are some of the interacting forces shaping what happens in classrooms and what does it all mean for teacher educators 7 As a teacher educator, I find that such matters are a concern to many pre-service teachers (PSTs): they want to know how to manage contentious issues in the classroom. Before discussing these questions in more detail, I focus on the meanings of sustainability, education for sustainability and civics and citizenship education and outline the research study that informs later discussion. As demonstrated by the Tasmanian pulp mill case, issues of sustainability are closely aligned with civics and citizenship, particularly in relation to community action.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Humanities and social sciences curriculum and pedagogy (excl. economics, business and management)
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum
UTAS Author:Johnston, R (Dr Robbie Johnston)
ID Code:79155
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2012-08-20
Last Modified:2017-11-20

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