Enacting Environmental Ethics Education for Wildlife Conservation using an Afrophilic ‘Philosophy for Children’ approach

  • John Bhurekeni Rhodes University, South Africa


Environmental Ethics Education has in recent years emerged as a critical tool for wildlife conservation research. Despite this, Environmental Ethics Education is paradoxically predominated by traditional forms of western science such as the concept of the Anthropocene which appears to exclude aspects of African life-worlds where the natural environment is considered a heritage component and is linked to onto-ethical understandings of human existence. The purpose of this study is to explore how African heritage-based knowledges and practices are understood by children who identify and understand the relevance of their totems and taboos associated with them, in relation to wildlife conservation. The study from which this paper is derived utilised formative interventionist methodology complemented by a multi-voiced decolonial approach to explore whether children-participants aged 8 to 11 years understand the purposes of their totems and associated taboos. To achieve this I used an Afrophilic Philosophy for Children pedagogical approach, which foregrounds dialogical learning and development of critical reflexive thinking skills. Emerging findings indicated that children associated their totems and connected taboos as tools for protection against environmental pollution and for minimising resource over-extraction. Findings further demonstrated improved learner agency and development of ethical reasoning among children. As participants’ respect for environmental conservation and sustainability was informed by the significance placed on their totems, I recommend the need for schools to develop generative
curricula that take seriously context-based solutions to environmental problems. Future research should also consider understanding environmental conservation issues from a context-based perspective, which can inform existing heritage practices and pedagogies.

Keywords: Environmental Ethics Education, Afrophilic Philosophy for Children, ethical reasoning, heritage-knowledges


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2411-5959
print ISSN: 1810-0333