Rewilding higher education: learning to live together apart

Journal article


Bainbridge, A. 2021. Rewilding higher education: learning to live together apart. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-08-2020-0319
AuthorsBainbridge, A.
Abstract

Purpose
To provide a long-life exploration of how the human/more-than-human relationship has led to the evolution of education and unsustainable human behaviours. Higher Education is shown to be both a cause of unsustainable human activity, while also providing the transformative potential for more sustainable ways of life.

Design
This is a conceptual piece that uses myth, legend, literature, and contemporary narratives of atypical educational experiences to consider human/more-than-human relationships and the learning that can take place within them.

Findings
It is suggested that due to an unknown environmental event, early hominids were no longer supported by and in balance with their ecological niche. Referred to as an open world experience, this represents a fear for survival and existential crisis, that to survive requires the environment to be managed and controlled to support human thriving. Paradoxically, the internal logic of the products of human world building confronts human and ecological flourishing, thus requiring humans to continually engage in world building. Education involving teachers and learners evolved as an adaptive ecological response for the efficient intergenerational transfer of knowledge and skills to support continual world building. A rewilded HE informed by eco-logic supports complex human learning within the human/more-than-human relationship, potentially reducing the negative impact of human world building actions. To support sustainable living ego-defences need to be mitigated to enable learners of all ages to confront and stay with difficult problems.

Originality
Provides an understanding of human learning from the distant past to the present, including higher education’s paradoxical ‘keystone’ role in unsustainable and sustainable practices.

KeywordsEcology; Rewilding; Ego-defences; Open and closed worlds; Adaptive-lag
Year2021
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
PublisherEmerald
ISSN1467-6370
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-08-2020-0319
Official URLhttp://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-08-2020-0319
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Mar 2021
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Restricted
Output statusIn press
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