Richard Kool on envisioning futures

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Richard Kool on envisioning futures

Professor Rick Kool, who led the MA in Environmental Education and Communication program for many years, contributed a chapter to the recently published volume Envisioning futures for environmental and sustainability education (2017, Wageningen Academic Press, Corcoran, Weakland and Wals (eds.)) entitled "If the past is a foreign country, what is the future? The necessity of understanding the past, confronting the present and envisioning the future."

The abstract of his chapter states: "Time is an under-explored dimension of environmental and sustainability education. We tend to romanticize the past, worry about the present and despair about the future. It is time that we take a critical look at how we understand the past in all its complexity and uncertainty. We also need to speak about our present reality inasmuch as we can understand it, working diligently to see what is going on with an acute awareness that our ideological orientations may make it hard to accept some realities. Finally, we have to recognize that our work as educators is not to lead our students to face the future with despair, nor is it to live in a Panglossian sense of optimism. The future is going to pose serious dangers to our societies and the diversity of life on earth, and we need ways of imagining the future(s) our children will want to live in, grounded in the realities of today. To find those futures will involve building and testing scenarios; but it will also involve building strong affective relationships with those who do not yet live and with the world around. Those affective ties that may yet pull us towards a sustainable society."