Think Piece. Learning of Environment(s) and Environment(s) of Learning

  • L le Grange
  • C Reddy


As we reflect on the 30 years that have passed since the first intergovernmental conference on environmental education that was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, it might be useful to review how learning of environment(s) has changed over time and also how environment(s) of learning have changed. And also, what challenges these changes present for contemporary societies. The Tbilisi conference took place at a crucial time in human history, following sharpened awareness in the 1960s of human activity impacting negatively on natural systems. But, also a time when humans were still optimistic that environmental destruction could be reversed and that education might play a role in achieving it. What transpired at the conference might therefore be understood as a meeting where representatives of governments proactively defined objectives, goals and principles for guiding environmental education activities, in view of an impending socio-ecological crisis (at the time) (UNESCO-UNEP, 1978). The focus of this short essay is on learning, therefore we first draw attention to some of the Tbilisi Principles pertinent to learning of environments and environments of learning. The first Tbilisi Principle suggests that environmental education should consider the environment in its totality, implying that learning about/in/for environments should involve all dimensions of environments and how these  dimensions interact with one another. This Principle is linked to Principle 4 which states that the approach to learning should be interdisciplinary. Furthermore, Principle 2 states that learning should be a continuous lifelong process and Principle 8 states that learners should be active participants in planning their own learning experiences, and that they should make their own decisions as well as take responsibility for their decisions.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2411-5959
print ISSN: 1810-0333