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Dr. Reda Ibrahim Abdelgalil
Protection of Environment from Islamic Viewpoint
Preservation of the environment and the pollution that has increasingly afflicted our earth has become one of the most important issues that we face today. Industrial development and global population growth has resulted in transportation manufacture and thereby food pollution and the spread of epidemiological diseases. As guardians and caretakers of the earth, we have the responsibility of using its resources wisely and maintaining the world's delicate ecological balance for the benefit of future generations. Islam provides us with a balanced and holistic view of the natural environment and offers us the tools for its preservation. In the light of the aforementioned, my paper will cover the following points:
- How Islam views the environment;
- The components of the environment (Human, earth, water, air, plants and animals); and their
- Protection in the light of the five objectives of Islamic Divine Law;
- Islam's approach to Protect the environment;
- Anti-pollution efforts and plans from Islamic viewpoint;
- Positivism and negativity of the renewable energy ;
- Muslims countries efforts to protect the environment.
The last nine years have been rewarding and productive as I have gained a good range of teaching experience and skills at my work in various institutions. This experience has enriched me with the ability to teach various important subjects across all levels and grades: (Islamic studies for Arabs and non-Arabs, Arabic for non-Arabic speakers, English as a second language, and Professional translation and interpretation services (English-Arabic-English). I have managed multiple leading positions as an Imam and religious public speaker at the Ministry of Al-Awqaf (Cairo), a researcher at Al-Azhar University (Cairo), and a lecturer of Islamic studies at Zayed House for Islamic Culture (UAE). In addition, I have excellent teamwork and communication skills as a teacher, lecturer, researcher and Imam. In 2016 I got my PhD. in Islamic Studies in English (First Honor), English Department, Faculty of Languages & Translation, Al-Azhar University, Cairo -- Egypt.
2013- MA in Islamic Studies in English (Excellent), English Department, Faculty of Languages & Translation, Al-Azhar University, Cairo -- Egypt.
2006 BA in Islamic Studies in English, (Excellent with Honor), English Department, Faculty of Languages & Translation, Al-Azhar University, Cairo -- Egypt.
2001 Al-Azhar High School Diploma, Al-Azhar Secondary Institute, an organ of Al-Azhar Educational System (A)
It has been honorable for me to be one of teaching staff for Al-Azhar University in Egypt and Zayed House for Islamic Culture in UAE.
Academic Researches & Publications
- PhD dissertation entitled: "Justice in Islam, Judaism & Christianity: Applications and Practices, Comparative Analytical Study," 2016.
- MA thesis entitled: "The Status of Converts in Arab and Western Societies: Analytical and Field Study, Case Study on UAE & USA," 2013.
- A research paper entitled: "Treating Anxieties Through Reading the Biographies of the Prophets and Messengers," under the process of publishing.
- A research paper entitled: "Teaching Arabic for Non-Arabic Speakers: Experiences and Aspirations, Case Study on ZHIC," published by Abu Dhabi Conference of Teaching Arabic for Non-Arabic Speakers in 2013.
- A research paper entitled: "International Tolerance: Islamic Principles and Historical Testimonies" published in "Tolerance is a Foundation of Our Civilization" conference held on 2016 at Zayed House for Islamic Culture.
- A research paper entitled: "International Tolerance & Cultural Pluralism" published in "Tolerance is an Approach & Conduct" conference held on 2017 at New York University, Abu Dhabi.
- Book entitled: "I Converted, So What is Next? A Concise Guide Book for New Muslims" published by ZHIC 2015
Forums & Conferences
- Leading the first forum session on "Teaching Arabic Language for non-Arab Speakers: Competences and experiments." held in Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, Abu Dhabi 2018.
- Leading the first forum session on "Zayed Forum for Social Workers" held in Police Academy, Abu Dhabi 2018.
- Organizing, coordinating and participating in Zayed Forum: Message of Loyalty to Sheikh Zayed, the Generous." held by Zayed House for Islamic Culture, Al Ain 2018.
- Participating with a research paper in a Forum entitled: "Zayed and Humanitarian Works." Ramada Hotel, Ajman 2018.
- Participating in a conference entitled "Innovations & Creativity for Providing Excellent Education" held in UAE University, Al Ain 2017.
- Organizing, coordinating and participating in Tolerance Conferences held by Zayed House for Islamic Culture for two consecutive years 2016 & 2017.
- Participating in Teaching Arabic for Non-Arabic Speakers' Conference held by ZHIC in Abu Dhabi 2013.
When to 'other' and when is the 'other', us?: Categories, conservation and law
Categories are constructs that become normalised. Binary categories are hierarchical and normative: the bad is them and the good is us. Biodiversity conservation is predicated on provenance-based classifications of plants into native and introduced species. This duality is enforced in Australia by the colonial legal system, which is unaccommodating of pluralism and largely antithetical to conservation. However coarse plant classifications are challenged by the weediness of some native species. Belated and partial recognition of invasive native species exceptions to the dominant duality have not challenged underlying assumptions and have caused perverse outcomes. These consequences are evident in a place-based case study conducted in regional New South Wales. This methodology is sensitive to non-human agency and is employed here to ‘ground-truth’ the law. The results demonstrate that disagreements between local landholders and the law are reflective of the disjunctures between law and place. The analysis suggests that greater recognition of place law may reveal the inherent bias of the dominant legal system, as, in addition to imposing a hierarchy of plants, it is predicated on a human-nature binary and enforces its own class of primacy and privilege. It is this ‘othering’ perpetrated by ‘us’ – the settler state – that must be problematized, rather than the plants. The ethical implications include questions of responsibility and obligation, both for othering and for natural resource management, and particularly also beneficence, especially when taking into account growing evidence of plant sentience.
The Growth Based Paradigm vs Earth Ethics
Modern society dictates that we need endless growth on a finite planet. Whilst economic models such as the GDP may provide material benefits for some of us in the short term, in the long term our economic and political systems are antithetical to the laws of nature.
This seminar will explore how the pursuit of growth at all cost is at the root of so many environmental crises, and without addressing this the environmental movement risks perpetually putting out spot fires, which are symptoms of a larger problem . That is, our entire economic and social paradigms are completely anthropocentric and require an ever growing number of human consumers on a planet that is already at breaking point.
The seminar will explore case examples of countries that are transitioning away from the GDP growth paradigm, such as Costa Rica. Their successes and ongoing challenges will be discussed. There will also be an open discussion around how to start conversations with people to counter ingrained beliefs, including conversations around difficult issues such as voluntary simplicity, earth centered town planning policies, reversing anthropocentric social structures and how to account for population growth.
Michael Bayliss has been an activist for the past decade within environmental and post-growth movements. Previously, he has coordinated various grassroots community groups in Melbourne such as Doing It Ourselves and Gnomes Urban Gardening Network.
He is a participant in the international Post Growth Alliance, run by the Post Growth Institute. He co-founded Population Permaculture and Planning (PPP) in 2015 as a means to communicate the critical role that town planning plays in the move towards future sustainable communities. Michael has been involved with Sustainable Population Australia since 2013, in such roles as Victoria and Tasmania branch president and currently as national communications manager.
Love in a Time of Climate Crisis
It is tempting to go along with the assertion from some areas of climate activism that "fear works" as a motivating force for behaviour change. Perhaps this is true if we simply wish to alter people's behaviours -- which in itself is a form of control... However if we are trying to shift the whole paradigm away from an economic system based on pursuit of profit and exponential growth - and in essence, create a new system - then what do we want the new system to be founded on?
A self-sustaining ecosystem of living beings is not built from fear.
Through our programs, park and people, CERES is asking people to "fall in love with the Earth again" as the path to dealing with the root cause of the multiple crises humanity is facing... Now we are asking people to simply do this more urgently, to love more. In the face of war-rhetoric and panic, how do we keep engaging, connecting and loving each other and the Earth? In a way, the declaration is asking us to actually live that wonderful-sounding theory we have, that love is the source of all power and transformation.
In his recent essay The Language of the Master, writer and "recovering environmentalist" Paul Kingsnorth asks, "If you cannot solve a problem with the mindset, or the tools, which created it, what does this mean for those whose tools are words? If this language has become a tool of control, what kind of language could be a tool to undo it? Another way of framing that question: what languages does the Machine not speak?"
One language the Machine does not speak is love.
Sieta Beckwith is the Narrative Director at CERES Community Environment Park. Through her work at CERES, which has a strong narrative about the power of community to bring about lasting change, Sieta is using stories centred on universal human values, to articulate the potential power of bringing spirituality and action together.
Over the past 10 years, Sieta has worked in strategic communications roles in social enterprise, for-profit and non-profit organisations, always engaged in assisting to deliver the mission and vision of the places she works, via articulating their strong social and environmental purposes.
Since 2014, Sieta has been actively engaged in the emerging spiritual ecology movement, which seeks to explore what is the role of spirituality in social, economic, political and ecological change. In 2019 she led the Spiritual Ecology Leadership Program for Young People at CERES, which worked with a group of 18-30 year olds to develop projects in their communities to create resilience, and deeper connections with nature and each other.
Walking with 'others': an eco-pedagogy for outdoor environmental education
Thinking about walking-with 'others' brings an eco-ethical resonance to practices of movement in outdoor environmental education. Walking-with 'others' is described as a critical reflexive movement between what "I" reveal and the other-than human, other human, ecologies of things or, in other words the critical relationships innerwise between persons and their outerthings. There two aspects to this that will be presented. One way is describing moving through/with space and time on foot that arises out of an 'affecting/sensing' body contingent of human, other-than human, spatial and temporal relations. The second is the different affordances of a scape walked through/with. Both aspects are prerequisites or 'ecological' precursors for formalizing knowledge generation that is generative of a walking eco-pedagogy.
This somatic understanding that makes present 'otherness' through the overlap of aesthetics and affectivity is described as eco-somaesthetics. The prefix 'eco' signifies a non-anthropocentric, or ecocentric, disposition in this inquiry. It is an engagement with the world and otherness that pays attention to the subtle inclines underfoot as well as the gaps in between each step, the unknown. This sensitivity of walking and engagement not only acknowledges the place and presence of others, but contributes to, and allows space for, their flourishing. In general, the revaluing of environmental ethics and ecopolitics in education are important steps.
Beyond the ecological bureaucracy: Australian Water Law and Policy in the 21st century
It is undeniable that Australian rivers, for the most part, are in a parlous state. The iconic Murray River struggles as inflow has declined; salinity levels have increased and over allocation has continued. The question asked here is: why? Why, given the importance of water for individuals, agricultural communities, industry and indeed the future of civilisation on this continent, is there a water crisis in Australia?
The aim of this paper is threefold: to discuss the failings of free market environmentalism that informs current water law and policy; to describe the unworkability of the mainstream alternative; and to offer, in its place, a radical alternative. I have deliberately set out to engage with the analyses of academics and thinkers who, although they have rightly identified both the extent of environmental degradation in Australia and the problems that attend current policy and legislative responses, nonetheless remain constrained by the hope that reform will be enough.
Should Mother Earth have Standing in the Age of Ecological and Climate Collapse?
Indigenous laws around the world recognise Mother Earth as a living being who is to be respected and cared for. Environmental laws do not recognise Mother Earth as a being, but instead designate Her as a thing or object to be preserved or conserved for the benefit of human beings. Often the designation of Mother Earth is further divided into ecosystems, river systems, and other components without recognition of the Whole. These same environmental laws have failed to prevent the growing climate crisis and wider ecological breakdown that is currently occurring at a global level. Similarly, international environmental law has so far failed to adequately respond to the challenges of climate change and ecological collapse. Laws have recently been developed that recognise the rights of Mother Earth, such as the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and the Ecuador Constitution. These laws are developing slowly, while the ecological and climate crises are heavily accelerating. At the same time, climate litigation is expanding around the globe as the effects of climate change are increasingly felt and climate science is further advanced. Whilst the impact of climate change on the environment is often considered, the question of whether Mother Earth should have standing has not yet been addressed. This paper considers the prospects of Mother Earth being a litigant within climate litigation, including whether the developing body of Earth Jurisprudence would support such a litigation strategy. It considers the relationship between the rights of present and future generations, the rights of animals and the rights of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef with the rights of Mother Earth in the age of climate and ecological collapse.
Holism: A teaching technique designed to develop ecological thinking skills
Abstract: Holism is not a commonly used word in agricultural science courses at university where the emphasis is on reductionism. In the proposed Bachelor of Science in Regenerative Agriculture course at Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia, holism is fundamental to its design. Given its 'newness' to curriculum design the question was raised as to how best to introduce and teach it. The author draws on his experience of teaching holism for the past 13 years in the subject Human Ecology in the Bachelor of Ecological Agriculture at Charles Sturt University. The vehicle for this exploration is an assignment which requires students to think in three dimensions - : 2nd Person; 1st Person; and, 3rd Person. Students use artistic expression to connect with the environment and then relate their experiences to the five tenets of ecological thinking based on the writings of Laura Sewell. The paper explains the tenets of ecological thinking and the role artistic expression has in connecting with the natural world and how this connects with holism.
Kerry Cochrane is currently a lecturer in Managing Rural Change at Charles Sturt Uni in the Masters of Sustainable Agriculture course and is President of the Australian Institute of Ecological Agriculture (AIEA) Cooperative Ltd. The AIEA is engaged in developing the degree program at Southern Cross University in regenerative agriculture and the post graduate course in regenerative agriculture as well.The paper explores his experience of designing a curriculum to teach holism and the success or otherwise of the process developed.
Leading and learning for the re-enchantment of this world
The Anthropocene might be defined by our collective ability to overcome challenges never before realised by western humanity. We have done it before through revolution, grain farming, meat farming, the wheel, industrial and the technological. Each of these breakthroughs, as well as many others, has enabled the economy of human population to flourish. Each breakthrough has also had its costs and these are now presenting humanity with a frighting and exciting reality. Re-establish an ecosystem of planet earth that humans can slot into or use our abilities with machines and technology to create an artificial world for us to inhabit. Our approach to safety does not help prepare us for our challenges. It defines a mindset where we are the centre and the world should be manicured for us. It disempowers ourselves as active agents and instead places the responsibility somewhere else. This worldview permeates or culture to the point where we do not expect adventure and a put out it we encounter it. We are protected from the world and in so doing matching further away from being able to tackle wicked problems. The problems that may define our age. There is another way. We, wonder, we learn, we must trust and empower.
Whatever good and bad fortune may come our way, we can give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” Siddhatha, Hermen Hesse
The natural world is my preferred medium. I operate where the human mind and natural world transcend. Co creating adventures both physical and metaphorical so at the end students will look back and say, “we did this ourselves and I am so fucking proud of myself.” Education is my craft. I believe in trust and expectation. Creating environments and cultures that place the student in the pilot’s chair. Enabling them to wrestle with their situation, creating their own meaning and memories. My career started as a student of legends in the field. Through my education I gradually emerged as a professional now with twenty-five years of experience in the field. My greatest buzz comes from those whom I have worked who overtake and inspire me.
An introduction to a wide variety of authors and genres, from the rich tradition of Ecopoetics around the globe, from history to these times. Writers that explore the edges of our integration with nature, and this re/evolution. First Nations poets, such as Kakadu man, Bill Neidjie and US poet laureate, Joy Harjo, to tried and true poets of the soul, as Rilke and Rumi, and warrior/poets from the frontlines, like Joanna Macy, Campbell McGrath, Maya Angelou, Adrienne Rich, Marie Howe, Drew Dellinger and Denise Levertov, and others. Poems of jubilation and sorrow, connection and alienation, that ask questions of these times and re-ask questions still unanswered, from long ago. Poems that shape the future of humanity's response to the earth. The participants will be given examples of these writers, and time to immerse themselves in their words, and find what resonates most with each of them. Then an opportunity to write response poetry/prose to this, will be extended to the group, finishing with an invitation to share what each has written. This process can be expressive, integrative, cathartic and deeply healing, simultaneously.
From 'Anthropos' to 'Adam': reimagining human governance in the Anthropocene
Humanity, and the human subject is central to the legal order. The effect of this 'human centrality' is to embed and perpetuate deeply unequal modes of interaction between human subjects and non-human life on this planet. As a consequence, nature and non-human life have come to be perceived as a collection of objects, variously ripe to co-opt, marginalise or destroy, for the benefit of (some privileged) humans.
Now, in the face of catastrophic bio-diversity loss, stretched and breached planetary boundaries, and destructive climate change, the ability of the currently-constructed legal order to adequately regulate human behaviour in order to ensure human survival (much less the survival of other species) is under unprecedented challenge.
These ecological exigencies present us with an identity choice: either humanity continues to project a cosmological role in the world, as Anthropos -- standing detached from the world, while bending it to our will; or we (re)turn to an empirically faithful understanding of ourselves as Adam -- embedded in, integrated with, and dependent upon the Earth. Only such a collective shift in our self-image as a species might provide the ethical imperative needed to reverse the dominant and destructive modes of consumption that are devastating those with whom we share this planet, and endangering our own species' survival.
To Serve and Observe: Re-evaluating the ecological ethics of the Judaeo-Christian creation myths
Ever since Lynn White's influential 1967 article in Science magazine, the creation myths of the Jewish and Christian Bible have tended to been seen as either a cause or accomplice to human exploitation of the earth. This paper will article will argue that this assessment is based on both a flawed historical and flawed theological reading of these sacred texts, and that not only do they provide a powerful narrative from which Jewish and Christian faith communities can engage in earth-centred ethics and economy, they also have something to contribute to broader dialogue on ecological ethics. This last thought will be developed in relation to questions of anthropocentrism and human agency in ecological systems, and the ecological implications of conceptions of universe versus pluriverse.
Churches as Earth-Centred Economic Communities?
This discussion group will explore the question of whether churches present ready-made structures with unrealised potential to become local embodiments of alternative earth-centred economic ethics. It will look for resources already present within the sacred texts, history and organisational forms of the Christian tradition that might make such a transition possible.
Funding the earth for survival
Humans have created economic systems that change the earth and impact all living things that depend upon it for their survival. It is ethical for the earth to have an economic voice and to participate in economic decisions.
This workshop illustrates how people without economic power can have a voice. In the workshop, we will take a suburban water catchment and design an ethical economic system that gives the catchment a voice.
Finding the right balance
Since the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment was signed in 1992, there has been a plethora of activity addressing how to find the right balance between resource development and environmental protection. This ranges from advocacy of the economic benefits to the nation of mining, calls for a reduction in environmental "red tape" and increasing demand for lower energy bills, to protests against the Adani proposal, advocacy of the need to honour the Paris agreement and the debate surrounding coal-fired power stations.
But despite all our words, embrace of earth-based spirituality, activism, legislative reforms and the growth of land-care groups, is environmental policy development in retreat? Is short-term pragmatism unduly shaping our relationship with the world around us, implicitly encouraging us to be primarily anthropocentric in our environmental goals? In my research into the mining of Coal Seam Gas, for example, I found little in the public debate that championed the intrinsic interests of the Land.
This presentation, drawing on the Christian tradition, will explore a world view that embraces "serving the Land", arguing that the implementation of the Rights of Nature into legislation provides an effective and practical way to find the right ethical balance between anthropocentric and earth-centred interests.
Achieving the Sustainable and genuinely Democratic World of Common Aspiration
The key premise of this presentation - and of the Earth Holocracy Proposal introduced herein - is that the foundations for building Earth centred ethics in Australia, and the world, are 'hard-wired' within the core values of humanity. The presentation and Proposal affirm human beings' innate urge to enjoy, and to bequeath to future generations, a living world and a good life, and to meaningfully contribute towards the same. To liberate society from the catastrophic grip of hopelessness and disempowerment - to inspire the translation of these core values into meaningful and effective action - is a core aim of the Earth Holocracy Proposal. Integrating popularly-based strategies and best-practice models, the Proposal aims to build a 'movement of movements' around an understanding that hopes for achieving the sustainable, just and peaceful world of common aspiration fundamentally rely upon the self-empowerment and self-organization of Local Communities everywhere. Key elements of the Proposal's tools and strategies will be briefly introduced: its Local Community Declaration of Rights; its Statement of Global Solidarity for Local Self Determination; and its advocated models for decentralizing the economy and for organizing in an ethics-based, egalitarian, transparent and fruitful manner. The presentation will conclude with an indication of how interested individuals, groups and organizations can further explore, own, act and improve upon the Proposal's resources and presentation.
Addressing fish welfare in fisheries and aquaculture - 'wicked problem' or a new opportunity?
Humans interact with fishes in a wide variety of contexts, all with ethical implications. Fishes are the most popular pets, in terms of numbers, and the most common laboratory animal after rats and mice. They are the only animals that we still take from the wild in significant numbers, however, wild populations can't cope with demand and many are now overfished, so farmed fish are filling the gap. While other animals receive some level of welfare protection, fishes are often specifically excluded from welfare legislation, or protection is overruled by fisheries legislation. There are two likely reasons for this. The first is the gap between public perception of fish intelligence and sentience, and the scientific reality that fish are as intelligent as most land animals -- public opinion drives animal welfare legislation. The second reason is the importance of fishes for providing food and livelihoods for many millions of people. However, we can no longer ignore the fact that trillions of fishes die slow and painful deaths in fisheries, and billions more suffer in fish farms throughout their entire lives. While this appears to be a difficult issue to address, many solutions are likely to be identified by the seafood industry and their customers themselves. Welfare solutions can also complement the work being done to address other ethical issues in sustainable and socially responsible seafood sourcing.
Liz Downes & Skye Mandozay
Bridging Values, Transforming Perceptions, Nourishing Action
These times of global social and environmental crises, where our very future seems at stake, can be hard on those of us whose core values embrace the Earth we live on, and who are trying our best to bring about a vision of a 'life-sustaining society'. The very project of working towards this vision, against seemingly huge odds, can feel overwhelming. Whatever we do, it's just not enough.
Over five decades, Buddhism scholar, activist and educator Joanna Macy developed her sets of experiential immersions known as the 'Work that Reconnects' to help people rise through feelings such as grief, burnout, apathy and despair by remembering our interconnectedness with each other and all life.
In 2011, she and Chris Johnstone condensed these ideas into a framework called "Active Hope", in which they set the case that no matter how bad things may seem, we can nurture hope by consciously connecting to the larger-than-self world and engaging in actions that inspire us. They describe ways to transform our perception so that we can empower our values and work towards actualising our visions of a sustainable world for future generations.
This session will introduce the power of the Work that Reconnects and Active Hope with a brief presentation of the core principles and an experiential taste of the work, followed by a group sharing and discussion.
Liz Downes has degrees in psychology and international development. She has long nourished a passion for finding ways to share her ecocentric values in the world and contribute towards creating a life-sustaining society. This passion has been nurtured through working with Indigenous communities in Central Australia; several journeys to the Ecuadorian Amazon and cloudforests for ecotourism projects and to work with communities fighting extractive industry; and co-facilitating the Work that Reconnects in Australia with John Seed. She has engaged with Rights of Nature movements in Ecuador and Australia, and is currently working intensively on a campaign to empower community resistance against grand-scale mining in Ecuador.Skye Mandozay grew up on a farm in South Africa and spent her early years immersed in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation before going on to work as a wilderness guide in the South African bush. She then spent 5 years living in the Peruvian Amazon jungle where she was immersed in the study of traditional plant medicine, and was unfortunately witness to terrible deforestation and the effects of waste water run-off from mining concessions on indigenous communities. She now lives in Melbourne, where she is a dedicated student and facilitator of The Work That Reconnects and a mentor for nature reconnection with children alongside her day job as Kindergarten assistant for children with special needs.
Tree is Life
I am a passionate long time member of Treesisters a global network of women who are committed to the restoration of our forests and the re-balancing of humanity's relationship with the natural world. TreeSisters has always been an open invitation in how we can co-create together on behalf of life, nature and the trees.
I came up with an idea to create a traveling art installation in collaboration with other women artists that could be used to support, promote and raise funds in aid of TreeSisters by funding the planting of trees in the tropics. The art work is a two by two and a half meter canvas painting that is laid out on the floor as I talk about TreeSisters and the installation invites audiences to engage by creating their own personal message on a leaf to add to the overall work during the event. There are elements including little ceramic green hearts from 'The Flowering Heart Project' that participants can purchase and each twenty dollar heart funds forty trees. We can track how many trees will be funded through the event. There is any number of ways this could be present and happy to discuss further what is possible.
Ursula Dutkiewicz is a Melbourne based ceramic artist creating sculpture, murals, community art projects, commissioned works and residencies. She is a passionate facilitator of creativity and has extensive experience working, teaching and running workshops with in communities, schools and with people of all ages and abilities.The 'Tree is Life' traveling art installation created in 2019 is a collaborative art work between Ursula Dutkiewicz, Tessa Wylde, Karen Hopkins, Xenica Douglas, Deborah Punton, and 'The Flowering Heart Project' in aid of TreeSisters. The artwork travels to festivals and events throughout the world and all donations received go directly towards Treesisters tree planting.
Randolph Stow's Tourmaline: An Ecological Allegory of Transformation in the Law
Tourmaline is an ecological allegory of transformation in the law from colonial and anthropocentric to one based on an ecological worldview. The narrator, the town's policeman, is affectionately known by everyone as "The Law". Thus, the law is personified as the narrator. The Law presents his narrative as a "testament" of this time of transformation in himself. In Tourmaline, Stow allegorises some of the forces impeding this transformation.
Set in the future, Tourmaline is a once prosperous gold mining town in an arid region of north-west Western Australia but is now in decline. The natural environment is figured as a malevolent living entity: beyond the safety of the town lies certain death. They have not learnt to live with their environment, but remain in a colonial fantasy of a European verdant landscape. They dream of a return of the wealth of the gold mining era that built the town and its once lush parks and gardens and grand buildings, which perpetuates Tourmaline's decline. The Law writes of events that led to the shattering of this dream, opening up an embrace of the environment as it is. In this embrace, renewal and true wealth is located.
Somatic Tree Wisdom
This workshop will outline and connect participants to Arboriculture principals that outline how trees can teach us to connect to our bodies and improve our human experience of this life. The Buddists describe life as suffering and this is true in that not one of us will escape a life without experiencing some sort of grief through the loss of a loved one, a personal crisis or illness either physical or mental. No longer is it just necessary to work in therapy on our family of origin issues but also what is happening now in our society and environment and the impact of this on us daily. Trees are somatic beings, they experience living through their anatomy and physiological make up. With all the new research coming out about how trees talk, feel and connect it is now the time to learn to listen to what trees are telling us, if we are open to listening through our hearts not our heads. This workshop will include a 20 minute guided Somatic meditation based on the principles outlined in the presentation. Become grounded and connected through experiencing tree time.
Environmental Ethics in International Law
I would like to present a paper on the way that environmental ethics have become much more important in international environmental law. This would look at where an ethical focus exists, what the trajectory is, and where the gaps are.
It would be based on my book, International Environmental Law, Policy and Ethics (Oxford UP, 2nd Edn, 2014).
I have written 20 books (two are currently in press). Over 50 academic articles. I have had six international awards/fellowships, with my most latest being the Francqui fellowship in Belgium (2018-2019). I did ten years work for the NZ government in international environmental law, and are a former Rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention.
Living within limits: ecological ethics and religious practice
In light of the present environmental crisis an ecological ethic is urgently needed that contests the paradigm of economic growth and consumerism. Such an ethic might lead to positive outcomes that would include fewer working hours, far lower levels of production and purchase, and resisting consumerist habits and compulsions such as acquisitiveness and busyness. In the West, a voluntary practice of refraining or abstaining from some commercial patterns has been given expression in movements such as Permaculture, Transition Towns and the Slow Movement. Voluntary abstinence is also deeply rooted in religious traditions, many of which advocate self-discipline and self-restraint in such practices as prayer/meditation, observing dietary laws, living frugally, and acts of forbearance during sacred times and seasons. Often these religious practices of self-limitation have implicit ecological significance both in the way that they have an immediate and tangible outcome of limiting the human footprint on Earth, and in the way that psychologically and spiritually they help to develop in their practitioners qualities such as acceptance of simplicity, preparedness and resilience that would be beneficial at a time when people are facing a time of impending economic and social collapse.
Advancing a Relational Ethic for Global Governance: Re-defining State Sovereignty through Ubuntu
One of the biggest challenges for urgent and appropriate global action on conservation crises is the ability of states to harm or refuse to act, and without consequence, due to the shield of state sovereignty. This article will argue that the denial of accountability of global harms is legally and ethically flawed, and will look at how states are addressing their global responsibilities through law. This comparative review of state law and policy will provide the foundations for a re-assessment of how states globally govern. It will suggest that a relational understanding of state sovereignty, through the African ethical principle of ubuntu, is a possible way forward - where states govern through relational thinking and acting, as opposed to the current and dangerous trend toward increased hyper-nationalism.
Everything's a Resource (or: Waste is a verb not a Noun!)
I'd like to run a Bin Materials Audit during the break times, so that people can see what materials are being generated, separated and sorted at the event. This may also involve removing or replacing bins in spaces used by the conference, and in food prep areas (if done on site) or collecting some materials or liaising with caterers. This would culminate in a report at the end of the conference to highlight the success or future opportunities for resource recovery! In 2016, the National Australian Association for Environmental Education conference sent less than 30L of material to landfill for 600 people over 3 days, so it would be great to do the same at this event!
Te Awaroa – Voice of the River
Across Aotearoa New Zealand, people are deeply concerned about declining river health: many waterways are disappearing and others are no longer safe for fishing and swimming. For generations Kiwi kids had a favourite river or waterhole. But few would swim in them today – assuming they actually still exist.
We argue that the ‘bottom line’ regulatory approach of the Government's freshwater reforms is fundamentally flawed.
Te Awaroa aims to build a national movement of Kiwis working to care for waterways, returning them to a state of ora. Te Awaroa draws from mātauranga Māori – Māori knowledge, culture, values and world view as well as science and technology.
We ask, what would the river say/what is it saying? We were buoyed by the Te Awa Tupua Act 2017 which granted the Whanganui River a legal personality and recognition as an ancestor, an integrated living whole, encompassing the bio-physical and meta-physical, that flows from mountains to sea.
We will present findings from this project and postulate how a Te Awaroa – Voice of the River approach might be implemented to achieve 1000 rivers in a state of ora by 2050, and how this approach might contribute to environmental rights and Earth laws.
Dan Hikuroa, Gary Brierley, Anne Salmond (tbc), Richelle Kahui-McConnell (tbc).
Dan Hikuroa is an earth systems scientist who works with māori communities for help realise their dreams and solve their challenges. He is internationally recognized for his work weaving indigenous knowledge and science.
Gary Brierley is a river scientist who specialises in the use of science in management applications (especially river rehabilitation and conservation). He co-developed (the River Styles framework (www.riverstyles.com).
Participatory challenges around the nuclear power public inquiry in Australia as a political technology to introduce civil nuclear power
This presentation focuses on civic participatory adequacy of the Australian nuclear power inquiry, especially South Australia's 2015 Royal Commission on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. Participatory adequacy was raised robustly by media before this policy review inquiry began, similar to the three nuclear power inquiries before it. Situated in the science, technology and environmental change (STE) public inquiry subset, participatory policy analysis was underpinned by good governance and stronger sustainability principles. Through literature review, media analysis, and public inquiry submissions, significant participatory deficits were found that represent barriers to meaningful civic engagement in Australia's nuclear power public inquiries. Such 'depoliticisation' reflects policy legitimation agendas to introduce civil nuclear power and international waste repositories into Australia, and political technologies to challenge existing nuclear power restrictions in Australia. Such depoliticisation tactics also characterise a suite of other STE public inquiries on GMOs, wind farm and UG well siting, and mining per se. Accordingly, for legitimacy and fair process, cost efficiencies, and well-considered S&T evaluation in transitions to sustainable societies under conditions of worsening climate change and other environmental problems, a policy review of the Australian STE public inquiry is supported towards the 'open' public inquiry, with compliance measures around participation and legimisation.
Community Development for Ecological Conversion
Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home' (2015), Pope Francis' encyclical (teaching letter), highlights the interconnectedness of all creation, both human and other-than-human creatures and nature. Subsequently the spiritual perspective is now a crucial part of the discussion on the environment and climate change. This is the premise on which eco-theology is grounded, the relationship between human spirituality and the state of nature, within which Laudato Si' endorses integral ecology theory and practice. Significantly Laudato Si' challenges everyone, those of Christian faith, those of other faiths and those of no faiths, to move from words to action, to undertake determined steps to contribute to crucial environmental, economic and social change.
Consequently, this paper is grounded in eco-spirituality, eco-theology and integral ecology, from a lay-person's perspective. It will explore how, through active involvement in community - including faith communities, others of shared identity, and those of place -- opportunities to genuinely respect the rights of, and care for, both our lives and our relationships with nature, emerge -- encouraging collective actions. Earth stewardship, then, is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others, and contributes to choices that can lead to new models of faith, life and community.
The Birrarung is alive, has a heart, a spirit' - the unfolding of the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Act
In December 2019, the Yarra River Protection (Willi-gin Birrarung murron) Act came into force. The act through the intervention of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council granted 'cultural personality' to the river. This is evident throughout the language of the act not, only the naming of the act in 'language' and the preamble in Woiwurrung, but through the use of such phrases as 'one living and integrated natural entity'. The preamble from the Wurundjeri itself states "The Birrarung is alive, has a heart, a spirit and is part of our dreaming.' The act requires that a long-term community vision for river is developed. That vision is now completed, published and is being quoted . The act is innovative and ambitious. Can it deliver on its promise? The progress of the implementation of the act is explored. Is the community vision significant? The use of language and its implications for river management is discussed. The notion of a 'cultural personality' for a river investigated, and the role of the importance of First People's understanding of the coherence of natural ecosystems in articulating cultural and legal personalities is highlighted.
Role of religious leadership in caring for our home
Christianity, Hinduism and Islam believe in a Creator who created the universe and human beings. All three religions believes that the nature and human beings are inter-dependent and that human beings are responsible and Stewarts of the universe. All three Holy Scriptures contains the origins of our creation or universe and the origins of human beings. The Holy Scriptures requires humanity to care for the earth, our common, our shared, and our harmonious home. This home which provides and satisfies all our needs from one generation to the next. This home which provides us with natural healing of mind, body and spirit. This home which was given to us freely without any cost but only requirement was to look after it. It is beautiful and harmonious and our Creator has made it all just for our sake. But are we able to witness and enjoy its harmony, beauty, purity and healing today, and would there be any left for our coming generations to harmonize with. What have we done to this home, where have we gone wrong in our decisions and our actions that contribute to the fall of our universe? So what do we do now as religious leaders, as religious people, as responsible decision makers to enable us to preserve what is left and to revert to traditional religious and cultural means of being Stewarts?
Listening and Learning from Earth and each other across the Faith and Science Communities for the Good of Our Common Home
How do you bring people with diverse world views, beliefs, skill sets and gifts together for the sake of Earth, our Common Home? Gus Speth, Ecologist, and Advocate has said, "I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don't know how to do that." Religious leaders from across the world have called for dialogue among faith traditions and the sciences.
The Faith Ecology Network (FEN), first convened in 2003, has brought together people from many faith traditions and philosophies to engage with those differences and willingly step into a neutral space. By adopting a more contemplative stance we hold that diversity both consciously and loosely, enabling transformative change.
This discussion will share the vision of FEN, some of the progress made and some barriers that have come up. It will listen to the wisdom of the group for new ideas and directions and engage participants in the possibilities of this "network of networks".
Anne Lanyon is a Sydney-Based Community Educator who facilitates workshops and reflection days for students, teachers and adult groups.She retired as Deputy Director of the Columban Mission Institute and Co-ordinator of its Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice late in 2017 when the Institute closed.
She is passionate about education for a better world, is on the board of Jubilee Australia, plays a leadership role in the Faith Ecology Network (FEN), volunteers as a bushcarer, initiated the Kierans Creek Landcare Group, is involved in Aboriginal Reconciliation and chairs her parish Social Justice Group among other activities.
Ethics for farming and living on the land
There are many forms of "sustainable" food production systems with many confusing paradigms. This presentation discusses these and highlights how Eaglerise Farm has established their own set of ethics.
These ethics confirm agroecological influences on farm design and management in uncertain global times of climate, energy availability and farm inputs. The presentation outlines our small-scale, case-study, of 20-year journey developing an ethical multi-enterprise system utilising agroecological principles. It describes the transformation from a barren sheep property into a diverse ecological system supplying food to the local community through Farmers' Markets.
It also discusses the importance of developing a comprehensive vision. Our generational vision currently spans centuries and obligates us to plan and design extensively.
This presentation highlights how we strive to achieve this vision by utilizing our 16 farm ethics. Applying our Eaglerise Farm ethics forms our ultimate decision-making tool. There are ecological consequences if we ignore these ethics and we must take responsibility for that.
We measure success and adherence to our ethics with Ecological Performance Indicators (EPI). These form important quantifiable measures of our agroecological achievement.
This is what I do and what I teach and how I live.
Reframing nature -- inverting the mandala
The power in language is palpable and yet is weakened by cultural differences, misunderstandings and assumptions that can include and exclude individuals and groups. In this paper, various terms that explore the human-ecological relationship, using landscape as the context to explore disciplinary discourses like the environment, nature and place will be discussed. Explorations of theoretical (for example biophilia, ngurra, solastalgia, topophilia, and sense of place) and Australian practical frameworks (for example exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and spiritual and religious traditions) will be provided. This will be undertaken to break down language silos and bridge the gap between different discourses currently occurring in Australia.
A new model to understand the human-ecological relationship will be demonstrated. It is proposed that the human-ecological relationship be viewed as an ego-social-ecological determinant of health model that inverts previous perspectives of social-ecological models away from the individual to the earth being the core. Previous research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island groups and Australian religious groups will be used, with outer layers representing the individual, community, ecosystem and the planet at the centre. It is hoped to prompt discussion on merging language in this field to move away from human-centric perspectives of the Earth.
My exploration of the relationship between law and matter (earth, humans, build environment) was inspired by the work of Prof Irene Watson: "Raw law, indigenous law... exists in all matter." Prof. Watson also implies that non-indigenous law has clothed over, forgotten or denied Raw Law.
Within the traditions and origins of common law jurisprudence, as well as almost all legal traditions, this original raw law does exists. However, it has been subject to what Robert Cover calls the jurispathic tendency of judges and legal agents of the state to kill, via interpretation, the diverse legal traditions and concepts that are antithetical to the underpinnings of Western nation state. This includes the foundational symbiotic relationship between humanity and its habitat. The anchoring of law solely within the social contract to the exclusion of the non-human has allowed dominant law to permit material violence without sanctions, redress or even judgement. Material violence, similar to social violence, is defined as the abusive forced breakage of mutually co-constitutive relations between materials and humans, and between matter itself for the purposes of anthropocentric control or domination.
In the last ten years, in response to ecological destruction and violence there is a disparate but global resurgence/emergence of legal perspectives that recognize the foundational legal relationship between humanity and it's habitat. My research looks at this emergent juris materiarum, which is defined as a family of diverse legal perspectives, practices and knowedges, both contemporary and ancient, that acknowledge and recognize a relational jurisprudence where the human, the material and matter itself, are co-constitutive and interdependent within the process of materiality. This resurgence could enable a clearer capacity for legal judgement upon material (ecological) violence as well as build upon a necessary legal treaty between humanity and earth.
Citizen storytelling for environment
With climate change a critical threat, communication of our intersection with the natural environment needs to also function as a call to action. Podcasting and citizen storytelling are new forms that work to deeply engage their audiences.
1-2 hour Citizen Storytelling Workshop/Q and A for up to 20 people covering:
- Stakeholder storytelling for environment NGOs to encourage deeper connection, 'brand loyalty' and enhance engagement in both local and democratic action
- How to easily and effectively conceptualise and run a citizen storytelling website such as https://landcareaustralia.org.au/rescue/
- The value of communicating global issues from personal perspectives
- Expanding your impact through multidisciplinary approaches
(https://landcareaustralia.org.au/rescue/) is a digital citizen storytelling site which invites uploads of stories about small acts of rescue of 'home ground' and of native animals. It is a collaboration between PhD candidate Gretchen Miller (UNSW) and Landcare Australia. In production is an associated podcast, including a series of the contributed stories read aloud and set in a soundscape. The podcast also offers an audio documentary exploring the relationship of the Atherton Tablelands community with its 'home ground' - through acts of restoration (rainforest corridors), rescue (tree kangaroos) and bio-hazard control (crazy yellow ants).
This presentation will explore the concept behind the online project, present some audio extracts and discuss the value of enabling environmental stakeholders (farmers, activists, members of NGOs, rescue organisations and those who simply care) to share their unique stories. It will explore the the subjective and emotive impact of stories told in and from 'place' or home ground, and the power of sound to connect us viscerally and empathically to environments we may not be able to attend to in person.
Gene Scene life sciences multi-media education project
School curricula ask STEM life science teachers to hold conversations on the ethics and values of creating and releasing novel Genetic Manipulated (GM) animals, plants, microbes and humans. But accessible, up-to-date, user-friendly learning resources about GM's social, environmental and ethical impacts are scarce.
So Gene Scene multi-media modules are designed to equip students to explore the personal, social and ecological contexts of diverse GM uses - environmental, human and animal reproduction, medicine, industrial materials, farms, food, and more.
New GM CRISPR techniques dubbed 'gene-editing', only invented in 2012, are now ubiquitous in laboratories world-wide. Entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists seek to deploy living GM products into many facets of our lives and some are already deregulated despite off-target impacts and scant history of safe use.
The Gene Scene will present engaging, innovative, web-based programs through narrative templates that facilitate self-generated animations, videos, podcasts, games, stories, simulations, hypothetical's and debates. These will assist students to conceive, create and convey personal and shared values and visions.
Informing and empowering young citizens and future policy-makers to see new CRISPR biotech innovations and products through ethical and value-based lenses will equip them to participate in setting their own goals and influencing society's priorities.
Impacts of deregulating new CRISPR (SDN1) processes and products
Where to now? The Gene Technology (GT) Act 2000 now requires all GM processes and products - GM animals, plants and microbes - to be notified to the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) for assessment and licensing before any release. But the Gene Technology Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2019 would deregulate new CRISPR (SDN1) methods and the GM organisms created. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L00573/Download
We encourage the Senate to disallow the Regulations. If they decline, from October 8 2019 the OGTR and public will not be notified of SDN1 research or commercial use. We are also seeking advice on whether the GT Act required prior amendment to validate the Regulatory changes.
Without regulation GM organisms - animals (e.g. farm, fish, insects) plants (e.g. grass, grains, trees) and micro-organisms (e.g. rumen bacteria, lactobacillus, yeasts, fungi) made using SDN1 processes - could enter our environment, food supplies and materials without assessment, monitoring, or public notice.
GM deregulation is part of CropLife International's GM deregulation campaign in 91 countries. In June Donald Trump ordered several US federal agencies to deregulate GM, Boris Johnson's first speech as PM called for CRISPR deregulation in the UK and Europe, and Japan is reviewing its laws.
Dr. Katherine Phelps
To Meet The Future We Must Embiggen Our Imaginations: The Critical Role of Stories
Storytelling is a way we share knowledge, insight, and values. Storytelling is how we develop empathy for one another and feel emboldened to take courageous action. Storytelling helps us to expand our thinking, so that we feel safer about taking steps into the unknown.
Storytelling only functions at its optimal best when we allow new stories with new ideas to be told by new tellers. Anything less and storytelling can become oppressive in its own right as a means to hold our ideas captive and propagandise the ideas of the powerful. We have been told that many people can imagine the end of the world before they can imagine the end of capitalism. And yet, someone once imagined we could make it to the moon and we did.
I will be speaking about my own creative practice as a storyteller within multiple media. In particular I will cover how a willingness to explore beautiful, strange, outrageous, and, what some consider, dangerous ideas has been critical in being able to represent environmental and social issues. I will also speak about the importance of supporting new and independent voices as a means to protect the future.
The Quaker Earthcare Approach
Following mid-17th century formation the Religious Society of Friends' (Quakers) became early adherents to scientific and religious compatibility, aspiring to business integrity while playing a part in powering and financing Britain's industrial revolution. Quakers in Australia (as with many other faith groups) are now challenged to consider what love requires of them, and how to act hopefully, not despondently, facing Anthropocene realities. A 2008 Statement recognised Earthcare as longstanding Quaker testimony. A 2019 Quaker Earthcare Epistle on Climate Emergency and Species Extinction further reflected (a) members' deepening concern about ecological crises; (b) the urgent need for profound, practical and immediate action at individual and Society level; while also (c) holding close to cornerstone faith practices, particularly inward stillness and discernment. New ontological elements may still be essential. Over several years Friends' Earthcare Committee, based in Western Australia, has been meeting periodically, travelling in stages up the Swan/Avon River, through remnant Gondwanaland, appreciating Noongar country. Through emergent practice this Committee has sought an active and contemplative presence in nature, including Quaker meeting for worship, arts practices, and "slow time" to better listen, re-envisage country, seek to decolonise, and within the rising lament, experience belonging as essential to a greater spiritual response.
Kenosis: Sacrificial ethics for life in the Anthropocene
The Anthropocene is a new geological era in which human beings dominate every aspect of the earth system. It represents an existential threat to humanity, as this domination is shifting the earth away from the conditions which have allowed for the rise and flourishing of human civilisation. The Anthropocene also challenges aspects of western thought, including the culture/nature dualism, together with the belief that nature allows human action to be disconnected from its wider consequences.
While some forms of Christianity have been implicated in the Anthropocene, a shift from an Earth degrading to a more benign form of Anthropocentrism is possible. A kenotic ethic reflects the altruistic, sacrificial example of Jesus of Nazareth, which in turn reflects the character of God and the ideal for humanity.
A kenotic ethic can be used to challenge human parochialism and privilege. In particular, the Anthropocene understood as the Capitalocene, a western colonial phenomena, needs to be challenged. Kenosis therefore implies justice for Indigenous peoples, together with a recognition of land ownership and practices. It also implies a reconsideration of western consumptive practices and our relationship to both the domestic and wild other-than-human.
Tom Rivard, Kathryn Bunn & Grace (Leonora) Polifroni
The World and Everything it It: Moving beyond Resilience
The contemporary city and its operations are built on a paradoxical relationship between two existential forces: economic development and its consequent environmental impacts. But while national governments are crippled by inaction, cities, through their density and diversity, remain centres of consensus and creativity -- with long-established practices of sharing: resources, infrastructure, space, culture and opinions.
This panel discussion will contest two dialectic poles of urban sustainability: that of the archetypal neoliberal metropolis based on private consumption, severed from any relationship with its constituent ecological networks, and the idea of earth-centred community building, based on utopian principles of radical communality and interconnectedness.
A central tenet of urban sustainability is "resilience," preserving methods of production, settlement and consumption. Though we may need to protect cities from the impacts of climate change, it is cities themselves that need to transform the most - physically, socially and culturally. Through the lens of multi-disciplinary case studies, the panel will present and explore two other necessary transformations: Relinquishment and Restoration. These complementary processes will establish genuine urban resilience by combining sustainable systems, cultural diversity and the re-integration of natural and man-made ecologies, remaking our cities and the ways in which we choose to live in them, together.
Kathryn Bunn is an urban policy and systems analyst, forecasting shared value economic models for the built environment. The founder of SUPERFUTRE PROJECTS a social enterprise using finance and equity market principles to enhance knowledge sharing and global best-practice creating shared value supporting sustainable, resilient urban growth and development. An open knowledge enterprise licensed by Creative Commons SUPERFUTURE PROJECTS works with local business chambers, communities, corporations and government to create shared value by using their organisation's core capabilities in ways that contribute to both social progress and economic success in the cities and communities within which they do business.Grace (Leonora) Polifroni is a post-disciplinary designer exploring futures, transitions and critical becomings through collaborative fiction, performance and play. Grace plays in two worlds, the first as a Manager in the Deloitte Digital Strategy and Design practice, working across experimental futures research, strategy, service and experience design, and as a member of Becoming, an emerging scenario action-research collective based in Barcelona. Her practice largely concerns the futuring of cities and organisations and the reimagining of how we occupy, and experience situated contexts as complex sociotechnical, cultural and political spaces - creating the conditions for transformative, substantial and enduring change.
Tom Rivard is an urbanist, artist and educator, engaged in speculative city-making, re-imagining links between cultural acts and their urban environments. As principal of REALMstudios in Sydney, he pursues urban innovation, integrating habitats, communities and infrastructure.Tom founded Urban Islands (www.urbanislands.net), a global cities workshop, and teaches and lectures in Australia and internationally. His ongoing PhD research explores the relationships between civic space, urban society and complex narratives of interdependence. His interests in global cities, culture and environment unite in pursuit of a new radical co-existence, combining sustainable systems, cultural diversity and the re-integration of natural and man-made ecologies.
Experiential Wisdom and Earth Ethics
A system of Ethics is a culture-specific conglomeration of values, interests, ideals and motivations from which we can draw guidance to help orient how we relate to an Other. If we are to develop a new Earth ethics capable of guiding us towards nourishing, mutually-beneficial relationships with the rest of the Earth community, we must first identify incompatible values, rationales, ideals and motivations inherent within our own culture, and find appropriate substitutes.
This type of spring cleaning can be difficult if we only approach the task only from a theoretical, theological or philosophical perspective. Our current modalities of ethics and philosophy often remain trapped in a dualistically partitioned world where purpose, subjectivity and value are rooted in the mind rather than in nature. It seems improbable that you could develop a cogent Earth ethics from this space, let alone comprehend what it is to operate on human time while being in relationship with an Earth operating on deep time.
This is where direct experience, art, music and ritual provides us with the capacity to express the inexpressible. If we approach the development of Earth ethics by embracing its potential to be a system of experiential ethics, then we can harness the existing wisdom of our collective experience of connecting with the Earth to guide us on the path forward.
This facilitated workshop will bring together conference participants to draw out wisdom inherent in their own experiences of connecting with Earth. Participants will be asked to recall meaningful experiences from which they learnt about something about themselves, the Earth, or their connection to the web of life. We will then work together to extract ethics principles from their sharing and explore how this individual experience can be expressed to have universal application.
Dr. Amar Dhall and Manav Satija
Dance of the Numinous: Cohering Science and Spirit in service of Earth-centrism
Many people have touched upon the numinosity of nature via her beauty, mystery and simplicity. Research indicates that the capacity for hominins to have these sorts of experiences in nature relate to fundamental neurological circuitry in our brains whose biological origins predate our evolution into homo sapiens.
Humans are however, adept at over-complicating simple things. This impacts modern Earth-centrism and explains the chasm between its intention and influence. We suggest this tendency to over-complicate relates to a cognitive difficulty in harmonising seemingly polarised perspectives. An example is the difficulty reconciling an Earth-centric perspective with the modern human experience in which our lives are so fundamentally shaped by our success in utilising, transforming and exploiting the natural world. To harmonise these seemingly polarised aspects of modern life conjures the metaphorical challenge of fitting a square peg into a round hole. To wit, much Earth-centric discourse focuses on the impact that Cartesian dualism, the scientific revolution and the elevation of rationalism has had on our abilities to nurture a harmonious relationship with nature. Somewhat perversely this type of thinking further accentuates dualism.
On the other hand, by deploying holistic quantum mechanics we can bolster the foundations of earth-centrism, thereby unifying polarised aspects of our modern experience. Quantum holism offers a scientifically-informed ontological foundation that reshapes both peg and hole.
Laudato Si and Earth Ethics
In 2015 Pope Francis published his encyclical (letter to the world) Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. In the encyclical Pope Francis addresses the damage we have done to our Earth. He highlights how we have treated Earth as an inanimate object and hence have exploited her resources so we, in the first world, can have a more comfortable life. Laudato Si identifies how we are now recognising that it is coming with a cost, species are becoming extinct, the air, rivers and oceans are becoming polluted, native forests are destroyed, fossil fuels plundered and the climate is changing because of the way we live with our Earth. In this paper I will outline how Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si provides a Christian foundation to developing an ethical framework for caring for our common home, Earth. Pope Francis explores what underpins our relationship with Earth. If we are going to care for Earth is it out of a stewardship obligation or are we drawn by an ecological conversion to love Earth? Pope Francis calls for an integral ecology that honours the interconnectedness of everything in Earth inviting us live differently with Earth and with each other environmentally, culturally and economically. Pope Francis offers a way of proceeding that includes dialogue at international, national and local levels with decision making being transparent. There is a need for ecological education including the spiritual leading to the development of a covenant between humanity and Earth.
Native Animals, business and Ethics
Human beings are the only species in plague proportions. We are stealing the future.
In Australia we encroach more and more on the wild places that are the homes of native animals. We remove the big trees which house and nourish them. We have brought exotic species who kill and displace the natives and hard hoofed herds who trample our delicate topsoils. We take land for housing and agriculture.
In this presentation I will provide an overview of some of the challenges and successes in managing conservation areas and sanctuaries and discuss the way that ethics guide the work of staff and volunteers in these precious properties.
I have been coordinating Potoroo Palace Native Animal Sanctuary since it began in 2006. We are a not for profit business/charity with nearly 30 employees and about 30 volunteers. Our foci are Conservation, Community and Education. Cowsnest Community Farm and Wildlife Sanctuary (which began in 1975) works alongside PP. We compliment each other’s needs and activities. Panboola (Pambula Wetlands and Heritage Project) which I began in 1996, has taken off in a magnificent way and I do not work there at all. Batty Towers Flying Fox Hospital and Conservation Area began in 2001.
Nearly all the people who work in these places are motivated by very strong Earth Centred Ethics. At PP everyone starts as a volunteer and, when there is a job available, we can choose from amongst the volunteers.
We are as ethical as we can possibly be, even if it involves spending more. The wages at PP are our main expense. We train and employ many people who have experienced incredible trauma and who often are able to flourish with a little support. The other sanctuaries have only one paid person in total (at Panboola). PP has five departments: Café, Feedshed, Maintenance, Grounds and Administration. Welfare of the Animals is our first priority; second is Education; all the bureaucratic rigmarole comes last. We have a huge loss each year so we grapple with grants and donations and bequests.
But we love our work!
Dr. Geeta Shyam
Between Personhood and Things: A New Legal Status for Nature
The legal world is commonly understood as being divided between persons and things. Personhood is considered necessary for an entity to become a subject of legal rights. With environmental consciousness on the rise, there are increasing calls for aspects of nature to be declared legal persons. However, at a time when the concept of 'person' has become equated with human beings, there may be strong emotional and philosophical resistance to the idea of personhood for rivers, forests, reefs etc. Lawmakers may therefore be reluctant to elevate the legal status of nature. To overcome this obstacle, an innovative legal approach is required. It is suggested that nature should have its own legal category -- one that is separate to persons and things. It is argued that such an approach would be a better reflection of contemporary perspectives of the natural world.
A Responsibility To Protect Principle for the Environment
Australia, as a country that has no human rights Bill and which has few rights enshrined in a federal constitution, relies upon a 'culture' of a 'fair go' to protect rights. While the 21st century has seen the expansion of human rights theories as including a distinct right to the environment and rights for the environment, these advancements appear lacking in the continent that arguably has the largest range of biodiversity on the planet. Given this context, framing environmental rights in terms of the correlative responsibilities may assist in ensuring greater protection of the environment in Australia. For example, framing rights in terms of responsibilities alters perceptions of these rights, leading to action by non-state actors, as seen through initiatives such as citizen science and virtue signalling by companies. However, such an approach also has limitations and creates conflicts in certain situations. It is proposed that a document similar to that of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document which establishes the 'Responsibility to Protect' principle may overcome these limitations without the hurdles of having to establish the legal and political apparatus in Australia that would accompany the implementation of a human rights document relating to the environment.
Hearing our Place
Listening offers us a powerful way of personally tuning in and connecting with the natural world - however it’s a practice that requires learning.
Founded on offering practical listening skills, Andrew's presentations invite audiences into the rich communicative world of nature; birdsong, frog choruses, animal calls, summer cicadas, plus the micro-vibrational worlds of aquatic life and tiny insects. Tuning in to these sounds lets us interpret what nature is saying, and the living processes of whole ecologies.
Not only does sound give us a measure of the health of ecosystems, it also allows us to quantify the impact of our technologies on both nature and ourselves.
Through a sharing of ideas, supported by spectacular recordings and visual spectrogram analysis, Andrew seeks to address the fundamental question of our human relationship with the living biosphere.
"Listening is such a personal way of being present in nature. Sound brings things together; we can hear relationships between creatures and their environment. We can sense an animal's aliveness, interpret its biology and life story. In listening, we find a sense of belonging with our surroundings."
Andrew is a professional naturalist, educator and sound recordist, who has travelled for 25 years to research and document the world's natural soundscapes. He has published hundreds of hours of recordings, freely available to listen to online. His educational activities have taken him from schools to university lecture rooms, to the TedX stage in Canberra, and numerous appearances on ABC radio, including the program 'Big Ideas'."Whether we listen to understand, or for the simple enjoyment of hearing beauty, the natural soundscape enriches our lives. In listening, we can find new ways of valuing the natural world."
Dr. William Smith
Kids teaching teachers about recycling and connecting to the earth-tensions in the tearoom
This paper presents preliminary findings from an original research project initiated by the author and colleagues at RMIT, and uses a deep ecology theoretical framework to explore the remarkable power that primary students have to influence teacher attitudes to the earth, as measured by attitudes and beliefs towards recycling and connection to nature. The research disrupts the natural order of top/down pedagogies, to fill a gap in the literature on kids teaching teachers, a research space which is largely uncharted territory. The work is timely in the light of climate change strikes by school students around the globe, whose battle cry was "If you want us to act like adults, stop acting like children!". The study surveys teachers before and after an intervention program on recycling, which was implemented after Grade 5 and 6 primary school students did research and prepared posters for the staffroom. The findings present new explanations for recycling behaviour in the context of connectedness to the earth, and in-depth interviews with some teachers reveal personal thoughts and the beliefs that drive environmental attitudes and behaviours amongst teaching staff.
Dr. William Smith
The elusive metaphysics of the school/home environmental milieu
The author used Naessian deep ecology and Guattari's ecosophy to investigate the scoio-ontological structures of the school/home milieu, revealing the complex interactions between environment club students, sustainability coordinators, teachers and parents. The dreams and aspirations of students to make a better world are often tied to a love of animals, but their interactions with peers, close friends, teachers, parents and grandparents shape their attitudes to the earth, and drive them shake the conventional parent-child axis of control and belief. For young people the environment is their battleground, and they exert power driven by passion, but informed by their training in science. The most difficult challenge for researchers, however, is describing the metaphysical world that underpins student agency and connectedness to the earth. How exactly do young people fall in love with animals, and have deep passion for mountains and natural vistas? The answer is still largely a puzzle, but work is underway to solve this mystery.
Bee Theatre - enacting Hive life to develop bee centric approaches to community resilience
Bee Theatre is a fun, engaging experience to playfully inhabit the Hive.
After a short introduction about keys roles in the hive and how they interact, participants are invited to take on these roles to experience the joys and environmental pressures of being a thriving hive. The hive is tasked with foraging and collecting 'nectar', navigating back to the hive, communicating the sources of food through 'waggle' dance, tending to the queen, interacting with drones and defending the hive.
The session ends with a facilitated de-brief to draw out insights, experiences and awareness of what it is like to be part of a highly functioning collective. Feedback often includes awe at the subtlety of inter-connected webs, delight and closeness with others and pleasure in completing their own tasks with so much hive support.
No knowledge of bee keeping or bees is required to attend this workshop -- it is an immersive experience to gain an insects perspective in the world. This is a noisy, chaotic, cohesive, somatic discussion that can inform our own earth practices.
They have been involved in earth based protective practices for 14 years, including Pachamama Alliance and promoting living lightly for the benefit of bees.SezzaJai has a Bachelor of Social Philosophy, is a board member for Arid Lands Environment Centre, Alice Springs where they live and has published bee poetry, Pandeme of Bees, about the nature of bees and their intense nature relationship. They work in adult education delivering experiential training.
Howard Tankey & Susan Webster
What The Future Holds
For the last 18 months, a group of retired people and seniors within U3A Box Hill has been exploring our end-of-life expectations.
Our discussions started from the question: What are our main tasks in life? With a lifetime's experience inside us, we examined how well our current lives conform to our vision.
In answering this question, we recognised the need for an overarching vision. So, the group outlined a Vision for the Future, covering many areas of human behaviour, including politics, economics, law, education, the arts, and our interactions with nature. We also listed some inter-connected foundational principles or value systems to underpin our discussions.
We have concluded that it is not possible to contemplate improving the health of the natural world without examining the big picture. We have to interrogate our actions in other areas of human endeavour and the underlying values and principles that are driving this behaviour. An objective of this process would be for all humans to develop a connectedness with each other and the natural world.
We also believe there are many ideas embedded within Aboriginal culture that could help put our heads in a very different and better, but much more sustainable, place for moving towards the future.
Our presenters represent seniors who have been passionate, and sometimes active, about causes in their earlier life and are revisiting many of the same issues with the extra dimension of life experiences.
Howard started his career as a research chemist for the large chemical company ICIANZ. After 12 years, during which time he had been seconded to ICI in England, he started work as a physics, chemistry and general science and maths teacher.He became aware of environmental issues, and the way information is distorted or dishonestly presented to the public, when involved with the campaign to stop the extension of the Eastern Freeway from Doncaster to Ringwood. A strong interest in urban transport has been maintained to the present day.For the last 20 years Howard has been involved in the reconciliation movement and has established strong connections with many in the local Aboriginal community and with the remote community of Yuendumu in Central Australia.
Susan spent a 35-year working life in publishing, retailing, and, finally, technology, with her final ten years as a systems integration consultant. In her retired life she has embraced volunteering as a source of relevance and giving back to the community.
She is state president of the Victorian U3A movement, a volunteer based community organisation organising economical educational and social activities for seniors and retired persons.
Susan says her objectivity and analytical skills have led her to focus on climate change and resources management as the greatest challenges for old and young.
Embracing Heaven and Earth: Exploring a theologically informed spirituality that can drive and sustain Earth Ethics
In this presentation Mary TInney will consider how Earth Link enhanced its original set of ecospiritual principles by dialoguing with contemporary Christian ecotheology. The outcome is a framework for a Christian ecospiritual praxis which grounds the ethical behaviour that is so urgently needed in our times. While this presentation is Christian in its orientation, its approach is located within a wide range of understandings of spirituality and the science-religion debate.
Uncle Stephen True-Arrow
Connection to Country
To lead & demonstrate a process:
- Connecting to Country appropriately,
- Connecting to Community through the Common-Unity of shared heritage & culture,
- Connecting to Spirit through Right Work & the Response-Ability that comes with it,
- Leading ultimately to a Connection to Self through one's relationship with the other aspects, the process called 'Finding Your Way Home'.
The aim being that once one has a Connection to Country wherever that may be, then no longer can one willingly damage the Mother, because through Connection to Country one has an understanding of one's relationship as Child of that Mother, & the role of Guardian not just of the sacred places of the Mother but of the Mother herself, as all is sacred.
Once one establishes a Connection to Community through the recognition of Common-Unity then no longer can one damage one-another as in damaging another one damages oneself.
Once one connects to the Spirit of the Old Ones one learns the Responsibility (Response-Ability) of Right Work, & in the process becomes happy through the fulfillment of that Connection.
Then you have found your way home.
I use the world of story in a traditional way to teach the Connection processes.
His own Connection to Country comes from the land of his birth & from many years 'walking the land' throughout Australia.He has been teaching the processes of Connection for many years based upon the stories given to him to share.
Fatih Erol Tuncer
'Listen to the Reed’ – An Intercultural approach to Earth Stewardship in building Earth Ethics
The poems is called ‘Listen to the reed’ and narrates one’s search for its source, in this case referring to a reed cut from its source the reedbed (which relates to an instrument named the ‘ney’ an end-blown flute made of reed that is often used for deep reflective and emotional tunes). Reading this poem, I thought it was quite interesting how a natural ecological example was used to signify ones search and love for its source, creation purpose or creator and how ones separation from the other creates a longing, sometimes lifelessness. I think there are lessons to be learnt from this, to see earth and ecology as a living being and ourselves as faith or intercultural stewards of earth and how intertwined we and our stories/search for meaning, love and joy truly are.
Nicky van Dijk
Can it either be effective or justified, but not both? A way out of the apparent sustainability education catch-22
Education has the reputation of being a transformative power in children's upbringing. The proposal that education could therefore also promote children's attitudes and behaviour regarding environmental sustainability is therefore not surprising. However, studies into the effectiveness of education for sustainability are grim: programs aimed to promote students' sustainability may have (short-term) cognitive effects, but the influence on students' attitudes, values or behaviour is very minimal or non-existent. Following this lack of effectiveness of current sustainability education, best practices have been formulated, including the use of a holistic approach, active and experimental engagement with nature, using affective (emotional) messaging, and using teachers as passionate, caring and sincere role-models. Next to these different teaching methods, also teaching different content has been suggested to improve environmental-friendly behaviour of adults-to-be. However, proposals for more invasive and comprehensive teaching methods and content raises resistance, as worries arise about whether this is compatible with what can justifiably be educated to children in a liberal democratic state. Can education for sustainability either be effective or justified, but not both? This presentation aspires to suggest a way out of this implied catch-22, and argues for effective yet justifiable education for sustainability.
Legal Agenthood: History and Lessons
As we reorient towards an earth-centred ethics, an exciting range of proposals have been made regarding reform to our legal system. One particularly interesting proposal is to recognise the environment and animals as legal persons, or what might more appropriately be termed 'legal agenthood'. In this talk, I will detail some of the history of legal agenthood and its application to entities other than humans. I will provide a sympathetic critique of the movement to have the environment and animals recognised as legal agents, lay out why I believe this would be inappropriate, and discuss what other options, remaining within the spirit of Earth Ethics, are available.
Veganism: Towards Ecocentric Culture
Currently, our western governance systems, laws and culture reflects an anthropocentric and speciesist system of exploitation and use of Non-human animals. Our relationship with members of the Earth Community has been paradoxical, with utmost love and respect on one hand for companion animals to a destructive disregard and denial of the rights of others. Inspiring Earth Ethics requires an understanding of the way things are, critically evaluating and assessing that and then effecting substantial shifts in policy and culture to establish a new value system. These difficult questions need to be asked, do we want to maintain a culture which revolves around exploitation? Is this the best way forward? Veganism is the doctrine that people should live without the exploitation of animals (unless out of necessity), and advocates for non-violence, compassion and respect towards ourselves, others, and all members of the Earth Community. Veganism can provide consistency between the core values that many people already hold and their actions. This presentation aims to emphasise the importance of wide-scale adoption of Veganism for the benefit of humans, the animals and the overall health of our planet as well as its role in transforming our culture to reflect a consideration of Earth Ethics.
Lara Wiesel & Marissa Blunden
Being with Being: Connection through meditation, sound and movement
To collectively transition from human- to earth-centric ethics we need to shift from dualistic to wholistic earth perspectives: we need to practice interbeing. In this workshop we facilitate a practice of interbeing (the understanding of the interrelated nature of all things) drawing on the traditions of Zen Buddhism, deep ecology and musical/environmental education. We foster a space for our creative, playful and intuitive selves in order to practice connecting with and listening to each other and all beings of Earth. We will begin with a grounding guided meditation enhanced by a live soundscape, placing ourselves in the present, compassionate moment. We will then practice speaking our truth and deep listening with one another in an active listening exercise. We tie these exercises together by expressing ourselves through movement and music therapy techniques to release and reconnect with our community through creative expression.
Marissa Blunden studies conservation biology/ecology with dabbles in psychology, and is a practitioner of the Plum Village (Zen) tradition of Buddhism. She works in environmental education sharing her passion for the natural environment with all ages from kindergarteners to adults alike, and learning with each class as much as, if not more, than they themselves. These passions and opportunities have allowed a unique blend of understanding of our connection with our Earth. She facilitates meditations for grassroots organizations and a group of eco-dharma practitioners in Melbourne.Lara Wiesel is a geographer, harpist/flautist, environmental activist and facilitator. She works in environmental grassroots campaigns and youth music education. In these communities she is collaborating and writing on creating anti-hierarchical Earth-centered political spaces. Her focus is on creating change through immersive experiences facilitating deep listening to Earth. She currently lives on Mannalargenna's Country (north-east Tasmania), where she is supporting Indigenous-based immersive walking tours focused on listening to County.
Dr. Christine Winter
Disaster! No surprise
Observed through a critical decolonial lens environmental disasters are no surprise. They are no surprise to colonised peoples who live with the steady destruction of their homelands and kin -- human and nonhuman. Specifically, this paper argues environmental disasters are an inevitable outcome of underdevelopment: the underdevelopment of Western philosophy, politics, intergenerational and environmental ethics. Human-induced environmental disasters that forestall human, animal and environmental flourishing are integral to a culture without a comprehensive, clearly accepted and operationalised framework for environmental and intergenerational ethics. Taking the experience of Te Whanau a Apanui vs the Minister for Energy in Aotearoa New Zealand I outline the idea of kaitiakitanga -- the complex living philosophic, legal and cultural framework, protocols and practices of Māori. These practices and protocols are designed to protect human and nonhuman from environmental disaster and to protect and enhance the environment for future generations. I then compare kaitiakitanga with the dominant Anglo philosophical, legal and political framings and the incursions of the state into the rohe (territory) of Te Whanau a Apanui to search for and extract oil and gas from deepwater sites adjacent to Aotearoa's most active volcanic island. In doing so the paper observes a philosophical deficit which it argues is a function of the underdevelopment of Western theory.
Christine is a Lecturer in the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations and a Research Associate at the Sydney Environment Institute.Her work focusses on the intersection of intergenerational, indigenous and environmental justice. Drawing on her Anglo-Celtic-Māori cultural heritage Christine looks at how intergenerational obligations and duties are manifest in some Māori communities and how intergenerational justice can protect the environment for future generations of Indigenous Peoples and their settler compatriots
Examining one barrier to an Earth-centred ethics in Australia
This paper addresses the question "How do we build Earth-centred ethics in Australia?" by examining one barrier and how we might address this barrier. The paper begins by describing the nature of Western Ethics as human-centred. Due to certain historical contingencies Western Ethics has conceived of members of the moral community as 'persons' and this is usually understood as human beings. Members of the moral community have 'ethical standing' and this ethical standing is at the centre of Western Ethics. Recently the moral community has been extended (by some) to include a larger set of sentient organisms (e.g., birds and mammals). This extends ethical standing to these sentient organisms. But then the question arises, can membership of the moral community be extended beyond these sentient organisms? This is the barrier examined by this paper. If ethical standing cannot be extended beyond sentient organisms, then it is unclear how we can build an Earth-centred ethics. One way to address this barrier is then discussed. It involves changing the foundational assumption of Western Ethics from the assumption that ethics is essentially about how individual humans should relate to other individual humans, to the assumption that ethics is about how individual humans should relate to their environment (which includes other humans, among many other things) in a more holistic sense.