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Buen vivir: reimagining education and shifting paradigms

FORUM: Buen vivir - Reimagining education and
shifting paradigms
Eleanor Brown and Tristan McCowan
Published in Compare (2018), 48:2, 317-323
The new development order that emerged from the ashes of the Millennium
Development Goals has brought much needed attention to the natural environment
and to societal inequalities, two features which have made the framework relevant to
(and demanding for) high-income as well as low- and middle-income countries. Yet,
despite the emphasis on education as a goal in itself and a driver for development,
there is an alarming negligence and lack of imagination concerning the forms
education might take. The apparent compatibility between expansion of education
systems and both environmental destruction and worsening socio-economic
inequalities (given formal education’s complicity with current economic models) has
been little challenged by the development community. Ensuring fair, peaceful and
sustainable societies surely requires something other than just ‘more’ schooling. But
what kinds of resources and inspiration can we draw on to reinvent education?
This forum discusses a response to this question provided by buen vivir, a notion
emerging from indigenous cultures and political movements in Latin America. While
buen vivir has had incipient attention in the international development literature,
there is little written, particularly in English, about the contribution it could make to
education. We argue here that it needs to be introduced into our imaginary of
education, and that learning must push beyond the limitations of the paradigm of
modernity and the neoliberal ideology that commits us inescapably to economic
growth at the expense of the environment. If we are committed to the idea of
sustainability, which has not been well served by these ideologies and agendas, we
might want to consider what ‘sustainable development’ looks like from worldviews
with a quite different ontology from the European modernity upon which our
development discourse has been based.
Buen vivir as an alternative to development
There has been no shortage of critique of the concept of development and its
limitations in achieving peace and quality of life for all. We have seen variants of the
discourse distance themselves from the mainstream conceptualisation of development
as purely economic growth, and the introduction of adjectives to temper how we
understand the notion, from human and sustainable development to community-
based, ethno- and local development (Villalba 2013, 1427). The Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), for example, problematize environmental degradation
and call for the protection of life under water and on land, clean energy and responsible
consumption and production. However, these goals remain wedded to the
underpinning assumption of development as ‘growth’ or ‘progress’ and the concept of
economic growth in particular (Gudynas 2016). A more fundamental critique, one
rarely invoked in the mainstream, has emerged over the last twenty years, with
extensive publications of postdevelopment and postcolonial alternatives to the
development project, which challenge the dominant frameworks of development as a
linear approach to growth. Postdevelopment demands a deconstruction of
development to expose the colonialism concealed within it and to propose
contextualised alternatives (Escobar 2011; Esteva 2009). There are a number of
associated critiques of developmentalism growing out of academic currents such as
degrowth, ecological economics, ecofeminism and environmental justice (Escobar
What we discuss here takes the form of a critique of the development discourse based
on worldviews that are ontologically different from the modernist assumptions that
underpin development. These perspectives are rooted in indigenous knowledges, and
rather than being another development alternative, present ‘an alternative to all these
positions’ (Gudynas and Acosta 2011). The concept of buen vivir has emerged from
indigenous cultures in Latin America, although bears some resemblance to African
concepts such as Ubuntu (Murove 2014), and has been identified in different forms in
many cultures around the world (Loomis 2000). Ubuntu, for example, emphasizes
interconnectedness and belonging to a greater whole (Tutu 1999), and valuing the
ecological health of the community as well as the individual (Wang 2013; van de Walt
2010). Other key aspects of buen vivir, such as non-dualism and non-violence, can be
found in Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, Taoism and Advaita Vedanta, and
other similar traditions that question the idea of indefinite economic growth and
encourage inward contemplation and living in the world but not of it
(Satprakashananda 1974; Wang 2013). These philosophies have influenced alternative
approaches to development that challenge the focus on economic measures of
progress. One example of this is the extensive work done in the Buddhist nation of
Bhutan on the index of Gross National Happiness, which emphasizes spiritual,
physical, social and environmental health of citizens and the natural environment, as
well as the promotion of culture (Kelly 2012). It is important to remember that the
doctrine of progress and accumulation of capital do not correspond to absolute
universal aspirations (Baranquero 2012).
The contemporary notion of buen vivir emerged in the late 1990s from the meeting of
ancient indigenous belief systems, the work of critical intellectuals and adoption in the
political sphere. Buen vivir is the Spanish translation of the concepts of sumak kawsay
in Quechua and suma qamaña in Aymara, as well as similar terms from indigenous
languages across the continent (Gudynas and Acosta 2011). The translation is
inadequate but serves as a starting point. Literally translated into English as ‘good
living’, this is considered a pale reflection of the original meanings of sumak kawsay.
Sumak means full of plenitude, sublime, excellent, magnificent, beautiful, while
kawsay is life; to exist in a dynamic, changing, active manner (Villalba 2013, 1429). So
it is about harmonious coexistence and living with nature in accordance with
principles of reciprocity, complementarity, solidarity and relationality (Villalba 2013).
The powerful meaning behind sumak kawsay comes from a cosmology so alien to
Western modernity that, from that perspective, it is difficult to conceive of it in the
full-density of its meaning. Nevertheless, buen vivir holds significant promise for the
organisation of collective life in modern societies (Vanhulst & Beling 2014).
The fundamental challenge that buen vivir presents to development discourses is in
the relationship between humanity and nature. In the modern ontology there is a
division between nature and society, while for these indigenous ontologies this is
relational, and all forms of existence are expressed as complementary with other
beings (Villalba 2013). Nature itself is considered a subject, not external to humans, it
is interconnected and worthy of rights; this interdependence between society and
nature breaks with the two features of society-nature duality and Eurocentric
universalism (Vanhulst & Beling 2014). Buen vivir is more systemic, encompassing
the entire ecosphere and includes issues of inclusion and equity, biodiversity and
natural resources (Gudynas & Acosta 2011, 77). In this sense, communities are defined
in an expanded sense including non-human elements and the environment (Pacha
Mama [Mother Earth]).
Another key difference is the idea of progress; this does not exist within this
indigenous ontological perspective, rather, buen vivir is ‘a way of living the present in
harmony’ (Vanhulst & Beling 2014, 56). This means discarding the idea of
development as a linear process and reimagining how we conceptualise quality of life
and well-being away from ownership of property and levels of income alone, making
room for experiences and relationships (Villalba 2013). It involves reflecting on a
model that incorporates many facets of a good life sociality, solidarity, diversity,
human rights, ecological justice etc. (Baranquero 2012). It also raises essential
questions about the nature of the economy and how we could recreate economic
systems ‘towards a new [socio-biocentric] civilization’ (Acosta 2013, 22), where quality
of life takes precedence over capitalistic consumption patterns.
In terms of its relationship with current debates about the SDGs, buen vivir is an open
proposal under construction. While in some ways it presents a strong criticism of the
discourse of sustainable development and of commodification (Salazar 2015), it also
provides an opportunity to engage with international agendas in novel ways. Now is a
good time to think about how it can be conceptualised and interpreted in a way that
remains faithful to these important dimensions of the worldviews that underpin it, but
also comprehensible to people for whom breaking out of the paradigm of the
European/Western ontology of modernity is not straightforward. This requires deep
exploration of the ideas and the proposals, and opportunities to learn and engage in
dialogue. Buen vivir can contribute to these debates about what it means to live well
and provide a constructive critique of the development discourse. However, the
legitimisation and deepened understanding of buen vivir rests upon the building of
‘real spaces for citizen participation and on the emergence of collective learning
processes’ (Vanhulst & Beling 2014, 60). Buen vivir shares with anti-austerity
movements the reaction against political institutions and mistrust of the financial
sector, but it is ‘more unified and proactive in developing a program for alternative
solidarity economies and practices’ (Salazar 2015).
Liberating other worldviews in the face of Western hegemony of development, to
explore how they can contribute to more genuinely sustainable approaches to
improving well-being speaks directly to the sustainable development agenda. It
provides a coherent critique of development as economic growth’, which the SDGs are
keen to ‘decouple from environmental degradation’ (UNDP SDG 8.4). Far from being
a quaint philosophy from far away, education advocating sustainable development
needs to engage with such anti-hegemony worldviews in order to imagine different
possibilities for the future. However, it should also be considered that the emphasis on
measurement and progress, inherent within the SDGs, is in some ways incongruent
with the ontological underpinnings of buen vivir. So while it may be able to contribute
to these debates, and may bear some resemblance to attempts made to measure well-
being, social progress and happiness, there is also a tension between the need for
measurement and the move away from such quantification. This critique can also be
found in postdevelopment and postcolonial literatures (Escobar 2011).
Buen vivir and education
The role of education in this milieu is complex. Globally, there is a problematic
association of education and Western-style schooling, and an obsessive focus in many
international campaigns on getting all children to enrol in primary education,
regardless of the multifaceted complexities that arise in different contexts. That is not
to say that we should not support the empowering potential of education, and even
promote its role in achieving other goals, but we require a far broader conception of
what this might look like than the one current international agendas promote.
Education should offer more than training for ‘employability’, which is so deeply
embedded in human capital approaches to development. Occidental notions of
education are difficult to extricate from the drive for salary, consumption and status
or neoliberal assumptions about its form and purpose, and decolonising these logics
in the context of a global market is not easy. Buen vivir could offer possibilities to
construct visions of education which challenge these fundamental assumptions about
its role. While there are indigenous communities in Latin America which have
embodied these principles in their educational practices (see for example Olivera
Rodríguez 2014; 2017) - and indeed many would argue that they have to be
contextually embedded - there are few formal accounts that educators elsewhere in the
world can draw on.
Through extrapolation from the main tenets of the idea, we will draw out some of the
key principles for education here. We will not attempt to flesh out the specifics of
educational settings, curriculum and pedagogy, as this would require a more extensive
treatment than is possible in this forum. More importantly, any such attempt would
necessarily be contextual, by definition, this approach would resist any universalising
stipulation of how education should occur; any abstraction can only provide an
approximation to its real embodiment in education, which would necessarily find its
form only in the lived experience of educators and learners. We can, nevertheless,
identify the following broad principles:
Epistemological pluralism: acknowledging and transiting between different
forms of knowing
Porosity of boundaries: non-rigid classification of the educational space,
education professionals and disciplines
Holism of learning: bringing together of the manual, practical, technical,
abstract, aesthetic and spiritual
Cooperativism: avoidance of competition-based education and the consequent
progressive filtering out of students from level to level
Compassion and nonviolence: recognition of the importance of peace in all
aspects of life, including nonviolent communication
Collectivism: learning collectively within a web of relationships between people
and with the non-human world
Meaningful livelihoods: a link with enriching forms of work (rather than
alienating employability)
Living the present: education as a state of being, not aimed at the exchange
value of qualifications
These are not of course ideas unique to buen vivir, and can be found in different forms
a number of progressive, holistic approaches to education associated with
postcolonialism, environmentalism, feminism, mindfulness, nonviolence and others.
Yet buen vivir provides a coherent principle on which to ground education for
development, one rooted in a comprehensive and contextualised philosophy of living.
There would also be implications of a buen vivir approach for governance of education.
Given its opposition to instrumentalisation and commodification generally speaking,
there would be a necessary rooting of control of education in the community, with
strong democratic and participative engagement.
Importantly, buen vivir is not only a goal to be obtained as a result of education, with
learning oriented to help achieve a harmonious and sustainable society at some point
in the future. It also has a process function, it is a way of being, a mode of operating,
particularly as regards the forms of human relations that pertain within the
educational space. It is a question, therefore, of education through buen vivir as well
as for buen vivir. In this way it links in with prefigurative forms of education that aim
to embody the ideal society in the here and now, rather than preparing students for a
distant future (McCowan 2009).
Clearly, we need to avoid the naive romanticisation of indigenous peoples that is so
tempting for inhabitants of materialistic urban cultures who feel their connection to
nature, the spiritual world and each other slipping away. All communities face a range
of critical challenges, particularly in the contemporary context of globalisation. We
must also resist the exotic fetishism of ideas from afar, viewing them as somehow more
noble, interesting and worthy than those familiar to us. At the same time, neither
should we dismiss them on the basis that they are only viable and meaningful for those
living traditional subsistence lifestyles or as a ‘nostalgic echo of a remote past
disconnected from contemporary debates’ (Vanhulst & Beling 2014, 61). Indeed, the
very act of valuing anti-hegemonic worldviews and knowledges is an important part of
decolonising education. Building a new world - even in the limited form of the
compromise with capitalism that is the SDGs - requires a new vision, and for that we
must be open to the plurality of modes of knowing and living that the world offers.
Of course, education cannot bring this transformation alone. It could be argued that it
is the economic system that perpetuates the environmental degradation and
inequalities in society, so it is there that our primary attention should lie. Yet education
is fundamental to the global capitalist system as an industry in itself, as well as a
means of preparing compliant workers and equally it has the potential to transform
our understandings of what counts as good living’ and how it is practiced. In this
sense, we should consider the inclusion of the ideas of buen vivir in our education
systems, particularly in higher education, which needs to reclaim its ability to
challenge the status quo: understanding the challenges buen vivir poses for
development discourse is an opportunity to question taken-for-granted assumptions
and suggest alternatives.
This forum represents a call to the academic community to engage with ideas of buen
vivir and other conceptualisations and practices of ‘good living’ emerging from
worldviews outside the modernist European paradigm within scholarship and
research on international education and development, and also in teaching and
preparation of university students. While there is some existing research that explores
these alternative conceptualisations of education that challenge the dominant
frameworks of development (see for example Skinner et al. 2016), more extensive work
is needed. This forum represents only an initial foray into the topic, and further studies
are needed to theorise the notion fully in relation to education, in addition to empirical
studies on its incorporation in practice.
Education has an essential role to play in grappling with reconstructing assumptions
and learning from these worldviews that offer ways of conceiving a genuinely
sustainable relationship with the planet, but without co-opting or diluting the ideas
within and behind buen vivir. This means opening spaces for collective learning,
through formal and non-formal education, through social movements and non-
governmental organisations, as well as schools and universities, where we can imagine
education through and for buen vivir.
We would like to thank Inés Olivera Rodríguez and Melissa Nuñez Brown for their
helpful comments on drafts of this piece.
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... Buen vivir ('good living') is one alternative to the idea of 'development' which emerged in indigenous cultures in Latin America. Buen vivir focuses on living in harmony with nature, following principles of reciprocity, complementarity, solidarity, and non-violence; it rejects the idea of indefinite economic growth, encouraging inward contemplation and living in the world but not off it (Brown & McCowan, 2018). Buen vivir's broad principles relevant to higher education include: epistemological pluralism; porosity of boundaries when classifying educational spaces, disciplines, and professionals; learning that brings together the abstract, technical, aesthetic, spiritual, and practical; cooperativism instead of competition; compassion and non-violence; collectivism that allows for learning collectively with humans and non-humans; cultivating meaningful livelihoods as opposed to alienating employability; and living in the present and seeing education as a state of being rather than for exchange value of qualifications (Brown & McCowan, 2018). ...
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... For example, the holistic framework already underpins several Indigenous knowledge traditions. Sumak Kawsay (also known as buen vivir in Spanish, loosely translated as 'good living') is a philosophy of life of Andean origin that challenges the separated and exploitative relationship between human beings and nature, by placing the individual within a web of mutually supportive and harmonious relationships with the community and the natural environment (Brown and McCowan, 2018;Olivera Rodríguez, 2017;Villalba, 2013). These ideas have been influential in social movements and Indigenous communities throughout Latin America, including in the field of education. ...
... For example, the holistic framework already underpins several Indigenous knowledge traditions. Sumak Kawsay (also known as buen vivir in Spanish, loosely translated as 'good living') is a philosophy of life of Andean origin that challenges the separated and exploitative relationship between human beings and nature, by placing the individual within a web of mutually supportive and harmonious relationships with the community and the natural environment (Brown and McCowan, 2018;Olivera Rodríguez, 2017;Villalba, 2013). These ideas have been influential in social movements and Indigenous communities throughout Latin America, including in the field of education. ...
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Universities and, more broadly, higher education institutions (HEIs), need to use the knowledge they produce and their education of new professionals, to help solve some of the world´s greatest problems, as addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations (UN). Humanity is facing unprecedented challenges, most strikingly so in relation to climate change and loss of nature and biodiversity, as well as inequality, health, the economy, and a suite of issues related to the 2030 Agenda. Given this new reality in which the future of humans, along with other species, is at stake, it is time for HEIs and their stakeholders to systematically rethink their role in society and their key missions, and reflect on how they can serve as catalysts for a rapid, urgently needed and fair transition towards sustainability. The complexity of the issues at stake means that solutions should be part of a radical agenda that calls for new alliances and new incentives. It is also time for HEIs to make sustainability and SDG literacy core requisites for all faculty members and students. Sustainability education should bring students into contact with real-world problems and immersive experiences. Appreciating the greater good of both people and planet, and contributing to values beyond mere monetary gain will further enthuse and inspire students and faculty mentors alike. Ultimately, the educational culture at universities and HEIs needs to encourage students to learn via experimentation and critical thinking from multiple perspectives. This report is undoubtedly about the SDGs; however, it is important to realize that these will expire in 2030. We thus strongly recommend that HEIs, while being a part of that agenda, should also look ahead – not only to implementing the SDGs, but also to being intensively involved in crafting the next steps and goals beyond 2030. A long-term perspective needs to be adopted for both HEI activities and policies. The call this report makes is for universities and HEIs to play an active part in an agenda that has the consensus of 193 countries and aims to resolve some of the world’s most pressing problems, as stated in the 17 SDGs. The challenge is for HEIs to embrace the 2030 Agenda, because if they do not it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the SDGs. The SDGs represent a unifying challenge for all universities and HEIs, and this must be reflected in plans and actions for research, education and outreach. HEIs have played a crucial role as bringers of societal enlightenment and change over the centuries, maintaining their role as free and critical institutions while also – to varying degrees – aiming to perform a service within societies. It is essential to maintain and encourage these important roles and enable HEIs to combine their traditions of critical thinking with problem-solving activities, while also adjusting their role in the light of societal changes. The future of humanity and our planet is under threat, and the need for critical thinking and societal change is therefore more pressing than ever. HEIs should inspire societal change when necessary, taking a leading role in the transitions necessary for humankind and emphasizing that the need for change is immediate. This also implies that HEIs should think critically about their own practices, curricula and research, and about how to motivate their employees, students and society at large to do the same.
Purpose This paper aims to study the Colombia Buen Vivir and how indigenous social enterprise strategies inform and contribute for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by reaching sustainability and the well-being in the community. Design/methodology/approach Using participatory video research (PVR), this work draws upon evidence from a multiple case study of five indigenous communities (Curripaco, Puinave, Yanacona, Misak and Wayuu). Ethical approval was obtained from the five indigenous social enterprises (ISEs) in Colombia. Findings What emerged from the findings is that the SDGs were addressed before the SDG Agenda in 2015. Moreover, the findings revealed that the cultural values of indigenous people had not been contemplated in the SDGs. Research limitations/implications The cases respond to a particular context (Colombia); therefore, this invites us to be cautious when extrapolating the results to other regions. Practical implications This work addresses a research gap that points to the lack of studies that focus on ISEs and the SDGs in developing countries. Further, this work sheds light on the role ISEs play in the quest for communities to achieve sustainability and well-being. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to explore whether the SDGs embed sufficient ways of knowing and doing by the Latin American Buen Vivir of ISEs.
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Decades before the term 'degrowth' had gained currency as a rallying cry against the ideology of economic expansionism, John Africa founded The MOVE Organization in Philadelphia based on sanctity of life and dismantling institutions of state and capital (including economic growth). Members eschewed many forms of technology, lived collectively, harbored stray animals, and strove toward an entirely raw food diet in a communal lifestyle that many today would label 'simple living' or 'primivitist.' They rejected fashion and cosmetics, demonstrated for animal liberation as well as against police brutality, militarism, prisons, and pollution of land, water, and air. Notably, John Africa and MOVE emphasized the need to maintain sobriety and break with personal addictions in order to achieve personal and societal balance. Yet, rather than a set of 'single issues' strung together, John Africa formulated an all-encompassing paradigm. This article presents John Africa's paradigm as well as his grassroots decolonial semiotics that critically deconstructed, qualified, repurposed, and reframed conventional English language terms toward emancipatory and radically egalitarian ends. This paradigm, based on 'Mother Nature' and oneness, aligned with (without overtly borrowing from) many Indigenous and Aboriginal paradigms that similarly locate human life as interwoven with habitats and nonhuman animals. Whether or not one agrees with his ideas or approach, John Africa and the organization he co-founded seem to clearly qualify as early pioneers of degrowth. This article brings their hitherto unrecognized contributions into conversation with degrowth literature both to fill out the historical record and provide potentially useful insights for degrowth researchers and organizers alike.
Scholars have proposed university models for creating a sustainable future in response to mounting calls for universities to rethink their roles in society. These university models include the Human Development University, the Developmental University, the Post-Developmental University, and the Transformative University. Through a framing analysis, this study compares different university models to understand how the models: frame their proposed new roles, suggest universities should change to adopt these roles, how particular notions of sustainable development transformations underpin the roles, and ultimately, how the roles relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We argue that it is essential to reflect on this plurality of normative roles to understand how some models could complement each other and how other models highlight issues with sustainable development, in general, and the SDGs, in particular, that could potentially undermine the transformative roles of universities for a sustainable society.
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Many South–South cooperation programmes have promoted development without fully discussing the implications of that concept. To evaluate this situation, recent heterodox development strategies are examined, particularly those under progressivist governments in South America. It is found that development strategies are certainly plural, but they all share a common pre-political background. To address this feature, the concept of ‘varieties of development’ is introduced. Then a new typology on the disputes over development is presented. Three types are recognised (controversies within a specific variety of development; disputes among different varieties; and disputes on alternatives to all varieties of development). The concept of Buen Vivir is presented as an alternative to development, and disputes of the third type, that involve this concept, are examined. Paradoxically, as the current focus of South–South cooperation is to reinforce conventional varieties of development, it is blocking alternatives, even the Southern option of Buen Vivir.
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This article advocates a nonviolent approach to social justice education. First, social justice education literature is reviewed, and two contrasting and influential approaches—critical theory and poststructural theory—are the focus of critical analysis. A nonviolent approach is proposed as an alternative. Second, the notion of social justice is reexamined to reveal its tie with the notion of the individual, and the concept of nonviolence in its emphasis on relationality is discussed. Three facets of nonviolence are further elaborated: relational dynamics, inner peace, and nonviolent means. Third, these facets are translated into important aspects of a pedagogy of nonviolence: Integrating the inner and the outer work; shifting the struggles of opposites to the interdependence of differences; using and improvising nonviolent teaching strategies. To enrich theoretical understandings and inspire practical insights, this article also interweaves international wisdom traditions (including African ubuntu, Buddist nonduality, and Taoist dynamics), my teaching experiences, and the formulation of a nonviolent social justice pedagogy in teacher education.
Resumen El presente artículo tiene por objetivo evidenciar las potencialidades del proyecto educativo de la Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural. Comenzamos por ubicarnos, teórica y políticamente, en la crítica al desarrollo, mostrando que desde su origen éste responde a una lógica de crecimiento económico, característica particular del capitalismo de la posguerra. Nos apoyamos en esta descripción histórica y conceptual para mostrar la estrecha vinculación establecida desde el origen del desarrollo como concepto, paradigmático y político, entre el crecimiento económico y la educación formal. Desde la crítica a la visión desarrollista de la educación, presentamos una propuesta teórica-política alternativa para ayudar a la comprensión y el análisis de los proyectos educativos. A partir de esta comprensión y desde el análisis de historias de vida, discutimos lo que entendemos como las potencialidades del proyecto educativo de la Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural, en su capacidad de aportar a una sociedad pensada desde el ideal de una vida buena que conceptualizamos aquí como Buen vivir.
Whilst education has been widely recognised as a key tool for development, this has tended to be limited to the incremental changes that education can bring about within a given development paradigm, as opposed to its role in challenging dominant conceptions and practices of development and creating alternatives. Through a collection of insightful and provocative chapters, this book will examine the role of learning in shaping new discourses and practices of development. By drawing on contributions from activists, researchers, education and development practitioners from around the world, this book situates learning within the wider political and cultural economies of development. It critically explores if and how learning can shape processes of societal transformation, and consequently a new language and practice of development. This includes offering critical accounts of popular, informal and non-formal learning processes, as well as the contribution of indigenous knowledges, in providing spaces for the co-production of knowledge, thinking and action on development, and in terms of shaping the ways in which citizens engage with and create new understandings of ‘development’ itself. This book makes an important and original contribution by reframing educational practices and processes in relation to broader global struggles for justice, voice and development in a rapidly changing development landscape.
In this article I am arguing that the concept of Ubuntu which means humanness was articulated against a situation of the dehumanization that was meted to the Africans during the eras of slavery and colonialism. It is further argued that since Ubuntu implies character qualities such as compassion, kindness, courtesy and respect for other persons, the ethic of Ubuntu remains indispensable to the reconstruction of post-colonial African societies. Ubuntu is indispensable to the post-colonial African quest for an identity in the spheres such as the public sector and the business sector because Ubuntu is mostly valued as the ideal for human conduct in all spheres of life. Lastly, I have also argued that because of its relational worldview and individual ontology, Ubuntu connected with the concept of Ukama implies that human existence cannot be separated from the generality of existence.
The values embodied in Ubuntu could be updated with content from the respective religious affiliations and life-views of the individuals and groups living on the sub-continent. Ubuntu as a traditional tribal life-view could be updated or modernized in several ways. This is a prerequisite for it to become a suitable sub-stratum for a similarly updated or modernized version of Ubuntugogy. The horizontal spirituality of Ubuntu could receive attention. Bangura is correct in arguing that Western-type colonialist style education schooling has not served the people of the sub-continent well, and that a return to Ubuntugogy as indigenous approach to education should be considered. The same argument can be invoked with respect to his conclusion that traditional education resulted in changes in attitudes and values. Such changes were the result of learning processes and not merely from imitation and conformity.
Rethinking Citizenship Education presents a fundamental reassessment of the field. Drawing on empirical research, the book argues that attempting to transmit preconceived notions of citizenship through schools is both unviable and undesirable. The notion of 'curricular transposition' is introduced, a framework for understanding the changes undergone in the passage between the ideals of citizenship, the curricular programmes designed to achieve them, their implementation in practice and the effects on students. The 'leaps' between these different stages make the project of forming students in a mould of predefined citizenship highly problematic. Case studies are presented of contrasting initiatives in Brazil, a country with high levels of political marginalisation, but also significant experiences of participatory democracy. These studies indicate that effective citizenship education depends on a harmonisation or 'seamless enactment' of the stages outlined above. In contrast, provision in countries such as the UK and USA is characterised by disjunctures, showing insufficient involvement of teachers in programme design, and a lack of space for the construction of students' own political understandings. Some more promising directions for citizenship education are proposed, therefore, ones which acknowledge the significance of pedagogical relations and school democratisation, and allow students to develop as political agents in their own right.
This paper seeks to initiate a conversation between degrowth (DG) and postdevelopment (PD) frameworks by placing them within the larger field of discourses for ecological and civilizational transitions and by bridging proposals emerging from the North with those from the Global South. Not only can this dialogue, it is argued, be mutually enriching for both movements but perhaps essential for an effective politics of transformation. Part I of the paper presents a brief panorama of transition discourses (TDs), particularly in the North. Part II discusses succinctly the main postdevelopment trends in Latin America, including Buen Vivir (BV), the rights of Nature, civilizational crisis, and the concept of ‘alternatives to development’. With these elements in hand, Part III attempts a preliminary dialogue between degrowth and postdevelopment, identifying points of convergence and tension; whereas they originate in somewhat different intellectual traditions and operate through different epistemic and political practices, they share closely connected imaginaries, goals, and predicaments, chiefly, a radical questioning of the core assumption of growth and economism, a vision of alternative worlds based on ecological integrity and social justice, and the ever present risk of cooptation. Important tensions remain, for instance, around the critique of modernity and the scope for dematerialization. This part ends by outlining areas of research on PD that could be of particular interest to degrowth scholars. The conclusion, finally, envisions the dissolution of the very binary of ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ by adopting a pluriversal perspective.