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Analysing Environmental Education Curricula: The Case of the IBO's Environmental Systems

  • Tom Maxwell (a1) and Peter Metcalfe (a1)

Abstract

This paper uses a two part analysis of a new syllabus document developed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) for its Diploma in the area of environmental studies. The environmental analysis Is based on the need for concepts to support sustainability. Key ideas in this model are natural systems of flows of energy, cycles of materials and webs of life and human impact on these natural systems. This analysis suggests that some concepts for sustainability, such as soil and water as basic resources, are not covered adequately and that the identification of the syllabus as a science precludes essential economic and social sciences considerations and the dominance of the methodology of manipulation. Using the Habermasian technical, practical and emancipatory interests as analytical categories, serious difficulties are identified. These include the likely lack of congruence of the syllabus with the advertised philosophy of the Diploma and the fundamental technical interest of control expressed in the syllabus. Taken together, It is probable that in many teachers' hands students may inadvertently learn about exploitation rather than sustainability of the environment. Modifications to the syllabus are proposed.

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References

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