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Auxin: The #dosomething campaign; how Conservation Ecology is fertile ground for a pedagogy of hope.
Start: 16/02/2023, 01:00
End: 16/02/2023, 01:00
Contact:Lucy Lucks / Simbongile Ntwasa -
Location: MS Teams


Urgent issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation rightfully and necessarily foreground the curriculum in Conservation Ecology, earning it the title of a “crisis" discipline. Inadvertently, students are consistently and frequently confronted with negative news about the state of our environment. Furthermore, facts about the problems do little to inspire hope that the very degrees they are pursuing will make any appreciable difference to global challenges in the Anthropocene.

The #dosomething campaign disrupts the notion that “there is nothing we can do". Students are tasked with addressing a pressing conservation issue they are passionate about, in their own personal capacity. Semester lecture themes and assessments are integrated with individual campaigns selected at the start of the semester through a series of learning activities.

Iterative execution over five years has resulted in a teaching and learning process that has had three unexpected gains: a) students are able to connect global change at large time-scales to their own lived experiences, essentially enabling them to see themselves in the system; b) students get to know one another's lived experiences, crossing social (racial and economic) barriers to see the perspectives of classmates they don't otherwise socialize with, and c) while self-monitoring change over time, students learn that their individual actions can bring about change, and creative responses.

The title's evocation of Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Hope is not inconsequential. In conclusion I reflect on the metaphysics of an approach to teaching and learning that inspires hope, and encourages agency. ​

The Speaker

Dr Rhoda Malgas

How can I get my students to learn attributes and skills that are fundamental to conservation science for an uncertain future, and that are hard to teach explicitly? This is what drives my creativity in the BSc Conservation Ecology teaching programme. I teach on: Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Wild Fynbos Harvesting, and Ecosystems Goods and Services in Agri-landscapes. I especially enjoy my 3rd year module: Conservation in Social-Ecological Systems.

Enquiries & Booking

Lucy Lucks / Simbongile Ntwasa /
021 808 3717

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