Frontiers in Environmental Education: Philosophical Reflections on the Impact of Power Epistemology and Consumerist Pedagogy in Environmental Education

Ronald S. Laura, Ting Liu


In this paper we argue that an educational ideology, based on an epistemology of power and consumerism, has become embedded within the structural foundations of Western Education. The combination of a power-based epistemology which informs curriculum design on the one hand, coupled with a consumerist educational ideology of universal commodification on the other, have served to provide the basis for a persuasive but pernicious philosophy of nature. Virtually every relationship we have with nature, and in turn with each other, is reduced to a saleable item for exchange. The radical shift in socio-cultural perspective which has resulted from what we call an “ideo-epistemic pedagogy” has been both monumental and inimical to the ostensible goals of environmental education. Motivated by an ideology in which knowledge is construed as a “form of power”, and linked to relentless economic consumption, contemporary environmental education will simply reproduce, albeit in beguilingly inferential ways, the same contextual dynamics of technological invasiveness and mindless expropriation of natural resources that continue to lead ineluctably, and almost imperceptibly to the decimation and degradation of nature.

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