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Education Towards a Responsible Society: An Ecosystemic Approach for Advocacy, Public Policies, Research and Teaching Programmes



In a time where advocacy, communication, public policies, research and teaching programmes can not reach the roots of many of the problems of difficult settlement or solution in the world, an analytical, ecosystemic, epistemological and methodological framework, encompassing the combination and co-design of four dimensions of being in the world (intimate, interactive, social and biophysical), is posited to identify and reconceptualise roles and drives, in view of a transformative change of the current paradigms of development, growth, power, wealth, work and freedom embedded at institutional, cultural, economic and political level, encompassing environmental problems, quality of life and the state of the world..
2nd HEIRRI Conference: Education Towards a Responsible
Society, Transforming Universities through RRI
Aula der Wissenschaften, Vienna, Austria, 27 April 2018
Speed Dating Initiatives
Education Towards a Responsible Society: An Ecosystemic Approach for
Advocacy, Public Policies, Research and Teaching Programmes
André Francisco Pilon
University of São Paulo; International Academy of Science, Health & Ecology
1. Trying to solve isolated and localized problems without
addressing the general phenomenon is a conceptual error.
Instead of dealing with the “bubbles” (segmented, reduced
issues), the ecosystemic approach emphasizes the definition
of the problems deep inside the “boiling pot”, encompassing
the current “world-system”, with its boundaries, structures,
techno-economic paradigms, support groups, rules of
legitimation, and relative coherence.
2. Definition of contemporary problems should overcome
segmented public policies, reduced academic formats,
market-place interests and mass-media headlines, which
accommodate people to the prevailing order, instead of
preparing them to carry meaning, purpose and life-enhancing
values (relational and ontological), to the individual and
collective projects of life.
3. In order to face the problems of difficult settlement or
solution in the world, an ecosystemic approach deals with
quality of life (environmental issues, citizenship, peace,
cooperation, empathy, tolerance, coexistence, respect,
democracy), as the result of the mutual dependence among
four dimensions of being in the world (intimate, interactive,
social, biophysical), as they combine, as donors and
recipients, to elicit the events (deficits and assets), cope with
consequences (desired or undesired) and contribute for
change (potential outputs).
4. In the socio-cultural learning niches, the alien that we
strive to understand and the familiar that we take for granted
can be unveiled by heuristic-hermeneutic processes:
intermediary objects, selected to catch the eye (curious
things, seeds, shells, bottle caps linked by a string), are
presented to the participants, who register their perceptions in
a non-identified piece of paper (whatever comes to their
minds) and, subsequently, read aloud their statements
(distributed out of sort to all participants).
5. Sharing meanings in a performative context, in a state of
resonance and attunement, generate awareness,
interpretation and understanding beyond established
stereotypes; a new semiosphere” to deal with the problems
takes into account the dynamic and complex configurations
that originate them, encompassing all dimensions of being in
the world.
6. The contributions of the participants can be analysed in
view of thematic (“what” is at stake), epistemic (“how to
define the phenomena), and pragmatic (“whom, when,
where”) aspects:
1) Thematic aspects refer to the content, to the emphasis and
inclusiveness of the statements in view of the dimensions of
being in the world;
2) Epistemic aspects account for the structure of thought, for
the subject-object relationships (constructivist; common
sense; dogmatic);
3) Pragmatic aspects refer to the circumstances, agents,
places, timing (actions, strategies, instances, policies and
7. Epistemic analysis reveal different forms of subject-object
appropriation: alteration of cognitive, affective and
conative processes;
dogmatism: reduction to logical categories, frozen
schemes of thought;
dependence: reliance on exterior authority to qualify own
compliance: abiding to pre-established beliefs,
8. Thematic analysis refers to contents, to the emphasis and
inclusion of the dimensions in the statements:
intimate dimension: values, feelings, core beliefs,
interactive dimension: affiliations, , allegiances,
partnerships, leadership;
social dimension: political, economic, social, cultural
institutions, mass-media;
biophysical dimension: vital needs, environment, territories,
9. The ecosystemic approach favours the development of
healthy societies, that invest in each other rather than in
mega-projects with intensive use of resources, it extends to
environmental problems, quality of life and the state of the
world a larger conceptual framework that includes ontological
and epistemological issues, in view of the isomorphy and
transfers of concepts, laws and models; it relates to how
worldviews, values and perceptions affect the definition and
treatment of public policies, research and teaching
programmes in the world.
(groups) SOCIAL
10. To be in the world is a model of the sensitivity of
existence. Sensitivity to the one's thereness/situatedness in
the world means being able to grasp the value of the context
from which human life exists. The world is the ground from
which living is situated. The context is the ecosystem of
human existence, the ground from which human existence is
anchored. This is living in the context of being-there or being
in the world.
11. Instead of taking current prospects for granted and
project them into the future, the definition of desirable goals
and the exploration of new paths to reach them is pointed up
for advocacy, public policies, research and education, in view
of a set of values, norms and policies that prioritizes socio-
ecological objectives and human well-being, the quality of
natural and built environments, the aesthetic and ethical
values of a moral and cultural meaning of the existence.
Heuristic-Hermeneutic Exercise
To generate strong events, whatever the circumstances and
contexts, all dimensions of being in the world should be
combined, as they support each other to develop any project,
as we can see in the examples below:
building a cathedral
setting up a football game
sending a rocket to the moon
1. Choose the title for a project -----------------------------------------
2. A participant or a group of participants –would represent
one of the four dimensions of being in the world: intimate,
interactive, social or biophysical.
3.The participant or the group that represents each
dimension, should state what would be the contribution of the
represented dimension to develop the project, in view of the
characteristics of the chosen dimension.
4. The contributions of the dimensions must be assembled in
a total configuration to elicit the events conducive to the
development of the project and the desired outcomes.
Intimate dimension --------------------------------------------------------
Interactive dimension -------------------------------------------------------------
Social dimension -----------------------------------------------------------
Biophysical dimension ----------------------------------------------------
Ref.: Pilon, A. F., Governance, Science-Policy Interfaces, Societal Organisation
and the Transition to an Ecosystemic Model of Culture, Univ. Lib. of Munich, MPRA
Paper 85783, 2018 [on line]:
Statements of the Participants in a Session
of a Public Health Course (Brazil)
1) Box having within: three bottle caps tied up by an elastic
string (it may suggest interaction, integration, inter-
communication, horizontality); a seashell, three pink stones
(it may suggest compartment, non integration between
parts); a ribbon of paper with the inscription: how many parts
have a grain? (it may suggest the type of information
discussed interaction).
2) This box (and maybe others) remembers me of my
childhood and a beloved aunt, who kept photos and others
belongings in it. I feel the smell of sea in the stones and in
the alga. I don't know how many parts there in a seed., but
nevertheless i
t would contain the production of life. The link
between the objects means the link with other people and
the basis of social relations. "Keeping" in the box means to
keep people, to keep carefulness, preserving relations that
became intense.
3) The box de
ceived me, I expected much for so little. I
thought it cold, it is not; heavy, but no. I don"t like it, it is
smooth, opening it I thought of a jewel-
case; new
sensations: white little stones, similar to those in the river
where I work; united bottle caps,
but for children.
4) Curiosity, boredom, impatience, beach, sea, chilled water,
patience, questions and answers, sand, anxiety, to solve,
"Maria Chiquinha", children songs, China, Japan, grains,
quantity, immensity, plenitude, rest, tiredness.
5) Feeling
of anguish in view of the time; inside each of us
there are simple and complex things; their development will
help us to grow as people.
Statements of the Participants in a Session
of an International Congress (U.S.A.)
1) Half shell; organic/inorganic; nature/human made;
2) Found objects; shell/stones; artefacts; a collection of
diverse objects not belonging to any category.
3) Objects of nature are more beautiful and int
eresting in
form than are manufactured articles -
but the metal caps
may suggest that nature provides in many ways -
when unaesthetic.
4) Sharp and smooth texture; manipulate.
5) Contents: world, rocks from ocean, trash caps, city from
modern society,
black stones, forest plant; the contents
represent global communities: rural, urban, forest, islands.
6) Three black seeds, three elastically connected bottle
caps, three white river stones and a heart shaped, dried,
open seed pot lay in a white rectangul
ar open top plastic
container; remains of living plants, time worn rocks and
man-made metal objects represent earth materials.
7) Different shapes, sharp objects, smooth, multi-
corporations, dry.
8) Natural food and junk food; moderation - nature'
s way
and mass consumption; voluntary simplicity, consumerism.
sustainability, extinction/destruction.
9) I wonder what type of music these items make; was/is
the heart-
shaped thing good to eat; what are the little
"black beans", how were the holes drilled
in the pop tops?
what kind of soda are the two unfamiliar?