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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Ecological Systems as Learning Systems - Class rooms to Communities

Name of Leader:

Christine King, N. Sriskandarajah

Names of Participants:

Peter Long, Craig Middleton, Lone Lisborg, Heather Shaw, Maria Rose, Roger Packham, Lynnette Pirie, Joanne Miller, Rob Chataway, Dana Kelly, Tony Dunn, Peter Stephen, Linda Harley, Virginia Carderas, Eric Anderson, Mark Paine, David Lawrence, Andy Grodecki, Jess Jennings

Main points of discussion

We started by considering our situation of being stranded in an island and in small groups we discussed how we would develop that island as a sustainable ecological system in order to survive there for 10 years or more. Then we looked at the ecological principles that we used to develop this system, and considered each of these principles in terms of their relevance to (human) learning systems.

Many of the principles we came up with were overlapping with the eight principles that Fritjof Capra has outlined in his book, The Web of Life: interdependency, sustainability, ecological cycles, energy flows, partnership, flexibility, diversity, co-evolution.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

How can this make a difference?

By looking at the parallels between ecological systems and learning systems whether they be farmer groups, groups in our organizations, or a class room of learners, we saw the principles from ecological systems that we can adopt in building learning systems (positive); we also saw the opposites of these that could be avoided in facilitating learning systems. Ecological systems are embedded in human systems and it is not helpful to see the two as separate.

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