Re-Introducing Ethics in Education

WEA Pedagogy Blog

A driving spirit of the modern age is the desire to banish all speculation about things beyond the physical and observable realms of our existence. This spirit was well expressed by one of the leading Enlightenment philosophers, David Hume, who called for burning all books which did not deal with the observable and quantifiable phenomena: “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

This is a breathtakingly bold assertion. The literate reader may examine his or her bookshelf to see what little, if anything, would survive after applying Hume’s prescriptions. Nonetheless, the spirit of the secular age was very much in…

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University Continues to Benefit From Colonial Land Confiscations

Te Wharepora Hou

I was shocked today to read that Victoria University is set to sell the Karori Campus for $20million. What is shocking is not only the sale, but the fact that the government sold the land to the University in 2014 for $10.

Numerous media outlets have covered this story, with Radio NZ stating “The Karori campus was acquired from the government for $10 in 2014. It covers 3.7ha and includes 20 buildings.” (http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312117/victoria-university-to-sell-$10-karori-campus). Some are advocating that the council should buy the land (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1608/S00856/city-should-buy-victoria-universitys-karori-campus.htm). Concern has been expressed about the loss of an educational facility to the community (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/83697513/victoria-university-decides-former-teachers-college-in-karori-is-surplus-to-requirements). Not one of those reports has raised the history of the land, the issue that if the land is ‘surplus to requirements’ that it be returned to the Iwi or the broader issues related to Treaty processes which demand that in similar situations Iwi are forced to pay $millions for…

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Ph.D. scholarships in ecology & conservation

Looks wonderful. Wish I was a potential PhD student !

Brave New Climate

phdPh.D. projects now offered in the Dynamics of Eco-Evolutionary Patterns (D.E.E.P.) research group, based at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Tasmania. We study ecological and evolutionary dynamics, global change, and conservation biology. Our study systems include plants and animals, with a focus on the unique Australian environment.

The Ph.D. project topics include the response of biota to global change, dynamics of ecological communities, ecosystem modelling, conservation biology, threatened species management, and impacts of land-use change on biodiversity. The three major research themes are:
(i) using ‘patterns’ to understand the processes shaping ecosystem structure and dynamics;
(ii) technology and biology: never the twain shall meet? and
(iii) faunal habitat use and the impacts of disturbance (biodiversity and conservation).

We are also open to the possibility of exploring other projects and welcome students to express their own research ideas.

DEEPCandidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds…

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Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote. Norman Pollack

The collapse of world markets is telling evidence of capitalism’s stake in maintaining a renewed Cold War, indispensable to its logic of global confrontation as a sustaining developmental force and dependence on a disproportionate, heavy-laden defense sector for America and drawing in its allies. The European Union, historically, was first and foremost the economic underpinning to solidify NATO, itself from first to last an obviously military alliance. Together, EU and NATO represented America’s stalking horse in its posture of world intervention and counterrevolution. Obama’s “pivot” to the Far East, his Pacific-first geostrategic framework, complements and extends the US geopolitical vision of global, unilateral dominance—military, ideological, economic.

With Britain’s vote, we see a magnificent—even if Britons voted on other grounds—objective determination to put a roadblock into the American Grand Design of universalizing its own brand of monopoly capitalism (and heading off a projected nuclear holocaust), in which systemic financialization erodes and supplants the US manufacturing base via outsourcing, foreign investment, and securing predictable sources of raw materials, including of course oil.

Consternation and worse reigns supreme in both the capitalist and defense communities, the architectural splendor of simultaneous containment, even isolation, of Russia and China, now on hold, yet hardly surrendered, as America, for its own self-identity, reified the idea of the Pervasive Enemy to accompany its doctrine of Permanent War. Blowback, after all, has some validity, as America’s warmongers pressed too far: Obama’s modernization of the nuclear arsenal, provocative incursion in the South China Sea, pressures on NATO to occupy the borderlands of Russia. Whether or not inadvertent, Britons have thwarted the US move toward the greater fascistization of a once-democratic polity, yet no longer recognizable as such.

How will America react to the British vote? Probably by intensifying, as is already happening, its Cold War rhetoric, and translating that into more aggressive policies of containment vis-a-vis a growing list of enemies presumed waiting in the wings. Counterterrorism, which has become a catch-all for creating a mindset for ideological conformity, will be a useful instrument for confusing radicalism and terrorism, in order to suppress the former as in Latin America and Africa. Secretly, I suspect, American policy makers hoped for the Britain-EU outcome, so as to beef up European defenses, continue the rearming (encouragement of a nuclear capability) of Abe’s Japan, and feel relief in pursuing the abominable policy of armed drone targeted assassination…. read more…

Source: Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote

Nicola Sturgeon announces plans for second Scottish independence referendum after UK votes for Brexit | UK Politics | News | The Independent

It is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland will be taken out of the EU against its will, Nicola Sturgeon has said, and a second independence referendum is “highly likely”. The First Minister said that the Scottish Government would commence preparations for another independence vote after Scotland bucked the UK trend by voting 62 per cent to 38 per cent for Remain.

Source: Nicola Sturgeon announces plans for second Scottish independence referendum after UK votes for Brexit | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Putting Culture back into Nature

Superb piece from Chris Perley

Thoughtscapes - Reimagining

Guided_growth_rootbridge_882x300We have spread across and changed our world.  Change is the constant.  But it is maintaining the integrity of our systems that is more important than whether there is any particular ‘natural state’.

I doubt there is any such thing as a natural state.  I was taught climax ecology in the early 80s, but by the mid 80s Pickett & White and Daniel Botkin were strongly suggesting that the idea of a deterministic path to some natural ‘climax’ was very dubious indeed.

Pristine landscapes It has been thousands of years since the Earth had pristine landscapes.  A new article identifies four major phases when humans shaped the world around them with broad effects on natural ecosystems: global human expansion during the Late Pleistocene; the Neolithic spread of agriculture; the era of humans colonising islands; and the emergence of early urbanised societies and trade.  Credit: po808 / Fotolia

The whole idea is…

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Green Gold

I love his work. And that of so many others who are doing regenerative work. What hampers us most, I believe, is the lack of political and economic will to fund such work – unless, of course, there is a guaranteed profit margin. The question then becomes, how to transform this economic paradigm as a matter of extreme urgency ?

Our Land is not an Industry

Yes. Thank you Chris Perley.

Thoughtscapes - Reimagining

“To heal is to make whole.  This applies as well to the ‘industries’ of landscapes: agriculture, forestry & mining.  Once they have been industrialised, those enterprises no longer recognise landscapes as wholes, let alone as homes for people and other creatures. They regard landscapes as sources of extractable products.  They have ‘efficiently’ shed any other concern or interest.”

Wendell Berry.  Our Only World p6

Landscape children

This quote by Wendell Berry below sums up why I do not like the name (and explicit framing) of our renamed public department ‘Ministry of Primary Industries‘.  It disturbs me when the technocrats, especially those who see the world through the myopic lens of dollars and markets alone, have the power to fundamentally shift from a metaphor of culture – agriculture, silviculture, apiculture, horticulture, viticulture, aquaculture – to a metaphor of ‘industry’.

I think we ought to ‘see’ landscapes in a broad sense, as places of…

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