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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education : Education

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Philosophy and City-based Outdoor Learning (EDUA11317)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryTwo traditional philosophical concerns involve the enquiry into existence and being (ontology) and how existence and being can be understood (epistemology). This ¿love of wisdom¿ has never been as important than it is now, knowing that the survival of the human species requires changes to the way we live our modern lives. These traditional realms of enquiry pose important questions in a contemporary world characterised by a changing atmosphere, degraded land and seascape, reduced biodiversity, yet infinite beauty. The course will look at standpoints such as realism (to explore the world as it is) and social constructivism (to explore the world as we perceive it) as central components of an ecological ontology intended to improve the relationship between human beings and the planet we inhabit. It will explore epistemological diversity and why different ways of knowing are central to more fully understand this relationship. ¿Inquiry as stance¿ will be explored as a method of enquiry intended to seek out the knowledge and wisdom necessary to develop action competences that promote sustainable living.

This philosophical background provides the basis from which to consider the implications for city-based outdoor learning. The planet is experiencing the largest urban growth in its history and so the way that people experience city environments is central to the quest in learning for sustainability. This course focuses on being outdoors and indoors in city environments to explore how these settings might be used to provide inspiration toward learning for sustainability. Key to this enquiry is the notion of ¿presence¿ and ¿phenomenology¿, which suggest that the way in which people experience the places they inhabit influences their values. Thus the idea of ¿presence¿ becomes central to the issue of our everyday personal and social identity that has wider moral implications for the way we relate to the planet.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2017
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be in the form of a written assignment of 4000 words:

Task 1 (300 words) critical description of an urban place
Task 2 (500 words) phenomenological account of the personal significance of the place
Task 3 (100 words) describe a hypothetical group of learners that might learn from/in this place
Task 4 (3000 words) design and critical evaluation of a teaching activity that would facilitate the group of learners' experience of the place with a view to addressing the transition towards sustainable living
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand and critically engage with various theories under the umbrella term ¿environmental philosophy¿, ¿environmental education and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), be aware of their historical development, the assumptions that underpin these, and their implications for city-based outdoor learning;
  2. Critically engage with theories of reform pedagogy and experiential education to understand the role of education as an agent of change;
  3. Critically engage with ontological assumptions and epistemological positions in order to formulate a programme of city-based outdoor learning;
  4. Consider a range of educational contexts in which to promote concept-based practice (a school class, a group from an outdoor centre, field study centre, etc);
  5. Conceptualise all of the above material and be able to articulate, at least provisionally, a personal stance regarding environmental sustainability as a guiding principle for professional practice; and, have taken part in a group to deliver a programme of city-based outdoor learning to operationalise epistemological diversity.
Reading List
Indicative reading:
Bowers, C. A. (1993). Education, cultural myths and the ecological crisis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Brennan, A. (2010). Understanding environmental philosophy. Durham: Acumen.
Capra, F. (1996). The web of life. London: Harper Collins.
Cochrane-Smith, M. and S. Lytle. 2009. Teacher Research as Stance. In The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research, ed. S. E. Noffke and B. Somekh, 39-49. London: Sage.
Crompton, T. (2010). Common cause: The case for working with our cultural values. WWF-UK.
*Dewey, J. (1963). Experience and Education. London: Collier Books.
Fien, J. (ed). (1993). Environmental education: A pathway to sustainability. Victoria: Deakin University.
*Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Gray, D., Coucci-Gray, L. & Camino, E (2009) Science, society and sustainability: Education and empowerment for an uncertain world. Oxon: Routledge.
*Horwood, B. (1991). Tasting the berries: Deep ecology and experiential education. Journal of Experiential Education, 14(3), 23-26.
Huckle, J. & Sterling, S. (Eds). (1996). Education for sustainability. London: Earthscan.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Fourth Assessment Report. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Retrieved from http: //
Jackson, T. (2009). Prosperity without growth: Economics for a finite planet. London: Earthscan.
James, S. (2009). The presence of nature: a study in phenomenology and environmental philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Jickling, B. & Spork, H. (1998). Education for the environment: a critique. Environmental Education Research, 4(3), 309-327.
*Jonas, M. E. (2011) Dewey¿s Conception of Interest and its Significance for Teacher Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43:2, pp. 112¿129.
Kaplan, S. & Talbot, J. F. (1983). Psychological benefits of a wilderness experience. In I. Altman & J. F. Wohlwill (Eds). Behaviour and the environment. (pp.163-203).
Leopold, A. (1968). A sand county almanac. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin.
Marshall, P. (1995). Nature¿s web: Rethinking our place on earth. London: Cassell.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002) Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).
Naess, A. (1988). Self realization: An ecological approach to being in the world. In J. Seed, J. Macy, P. Fleming, & A. Naess. Thinking like a mountain. (pp.9-30). Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.
Naess, A. (1989). Ecology, community and lifestyle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Nicol, R. (2013) Entering the Fray: The Role of Outdoor Education in Providing Nature-Based Experiences that Matter. Educational Philosophy and Theory (add page numbers).
O¿Riordan, T. (1981). Environmentalism. London: Pion.
Orr, D. (1994). Earth in mind. Washington DC: Island Press.
Palmer, J. (1998). Environmental education in the 21st century: Theory, practice progress and promise. London: Routledge.
Pepper, D. (1986). The roots of modern environmentalism. London: Routledge.
*Peters, M. (2009). Editorial: Heidegger, Phenomenology, Education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41:1, pp. 1¿6.
Reason, P. (1998). A participatory world. Resurgence 186: 42-44.
Reason, P. (2006). Choice and quality in action research practice. Journal of Management Inquiry 15, no. 2: 187-203.
Reid, D. (1995). Sustainable development. An introductory guide. London: Earthscan.
Sessions, G. (ed). Deep ecology for the 21st century. London: Shambhala.
*Smyth, J. (1995). Environment and education: a view of a changing scene. Environmental education research, 1(1), 3-19.
Stevenson, R. (2007). Schooling and environmental education: contradictions in purpose and practice. Environmental education research, 13(2), 139-153.
Tilbury, D. and D. Wortman. (2004). Engaging people in sustainability.
Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN.
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. (1992). Earth Summit ¿92. London: The Regency Press.
*van Manen, M. (1995). On the epistemology of reflective practice. Teachers and teaching: theory and practice 1, no. 1: 33¿50.
van Matre, S. (1990). Earth education: A new beginning. Greenville: Institute for Earth Education.
*Wals, A. (ed) (2007) Social Learning: towards a sustainable world. Netherlands: Wageningen. (free online at
Wattchow, B. & Brown, M. (2011). A Pedagogy of place: Outdoor education for a changing world. Victoria: Monash University Publishing.
WWF. 2012. Living planet report 2012. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsexperiential,ecojustice,ecopedagogy,environmental justice,sustainability,community
Course organiserDr. Ramsey Affifi
Course secretaryMs Marie Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)51 6678
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