THE PHENOMENOLOGICAL VALUE OF A “VAGABOND” APPROACH TO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

C. Rodrigues

Federal University of Sao Carlos (BRAZIL)
The aim of this paper is to present the concept of “vagabonding” as part of an experiential learning program based on critical environmental education justified by the importance of “phenomenological deconstruction/reconstruction” processes in education. The speech of a particular historical period has a regulative/normative function that puts in motion the organizational mechanisms of a “common” social structure, especially through geo-cultural oriented production of knowledge and hierarchal strategies of power. Accordingly, the body of practical/theoretical knowledge that surrounds the concept of “environment”/“environmental” is characterized by an ongoing dispute that unfolds itself in a heterogeneous field of ideological formations that comprise a multiplicity of interests and social practices, putting into evidence the contradictory marks that exist between its discursive matrices. Within the spectrum of this dispute the discourse of “environmental knowledge” unfolds (mainly) within discursive practices of “environmental education”, “sustainability” and “sustainable development”, incorporating principles and values related to cultural diversity, social justice/equity/solidarity and economic, social and ecological sustainability. In this process, critical and, more recently, post-critical theories have gained strength globally over the last decades. However, in view of academic/scientific traditionalism/conservatism and the complexity of paradigmatic transformations, critical/post-critical discourses still find themselves at the margins (periphery) of the environmental field. On the other hand, examples of local practices (in rare cases national, regional and even global) based on critical/post-critical theories are increasingly frequent, and the dissemination of possibilities and limitations surrounding these practices is imperative to the continued development/legitimation of the theoretical bases of critical education (including in the environmental field). The aim of this paper is to present an example of such practice based on the “praxical” development of the concept of “vagabonding” in an experiential learning program based on critical environmental education, at the same time aiming to reinforce the importance/necessity of “phenomenological deconstructions/reconstructions” in educational processes. The concept of “vagabonding” is supported by perceptual/sensorial experiences “for being for the environment” through a phenomenological concept of time and space within a proposal of experiential learning. After working with a group of students and professors during a semester long academic unit in an Australian higher education institution we have concluded that experiences associated with the concept of “vagabonding” have a noteworthy potential towards an “ecophenomenological” approach to environmental education. A major part of the proposal stood on “putting in suspension” the idea of comfort and performance during the experiential learning program allowing a certain corporeal strangeness/dissonance in a constantly changing environment. This “corporeal dissonance” in front of a strange and mutating environment and the development of relationships that distanced the group from the objectives of physical performance created significant openings to discuss different aesthetic, ethical and political aspects that involve human(society)-world(nature) relations.