Conceptual Landscapes of Global Environmental Conscientization

Chandia, Mahmood orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3900-2674 and Walley, Bob (2018) Conceptual Landscapes of Global Environmental Conscientization. In: Paulo Freire and Transformative Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 69-86. ISBN 978-1-137-54249-6

[thumbnail of Author Accepted Manuscript]
PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL:


The ongoing debate on the ecological climate and the possible courses of action suggests the need for a global consensus or mitigation towards an informed pedagogical approach on climate change. In 2006, a UK government white paper (Stern report) “identified climate change as a current challenge, not a future threat. The influential Stern report also identified three key elements in response to climate change, of which two – technological transfer and behavioural change – have clear implications for education” Freire argues: ‘When people lack a critical understanding of their reality, apprehending it in fragments which they do not perceive as interacting constituent elements of the whole, they cannot truly know that reality.’
The report also pointed to the critical human unawareness of climate change. Conscientization or critical consciousness of climate change is crucial. Critical consciousness being a moral awareness, Mustakova-Possardt argues, propels individuals to dis-embed from their cultural, social, and political environment, and engage in a responsible critical moral dialogue with it, making active efforts to construct their own place in social reality and to develop internal consistency in their ways of being. An informed pedagogical approach to climate change relates to social change and empowerment within communities creating what Freire would identify as ‘praxis’. The critical question posed in this paper is what level of critical consciousness does the population currently possess and are the communities engaged adequately empowered to develop an informed pedagogical approach?

Codification is identified by Freire as a way of gathering information in order to build up a picture (codify) around real situations and real people. This method has been consciously applied throughout this research. The paper is underpinned by a set of Freire concepts (conscientization, praxis, codification, community engagement) as an intellectual framework to evaluate the field-work findings. Given that Freire’s concepts advocate knowledge, action or practice and reflection, and the ultimate aim of global environmental issues, and this paper, is to instil these concepts on a critical mass scale, it seems more than appropriate to apply these concepts to this study.

This paper, in essence, explores levels of environmental conscientization on an international scale, giving examples from field research and case studies based on active participation and community engagement, and collaboration with three diverse communities. The concern with 'participation' in social change processes builds on the work of participatory approaches to social transformation outlined by Freire. He explains: “This early work was essentially a form of popular education that saw participation as a means of engaging the excluded and disempowered in processes of learning and social transformation that would enable them to become aware of and able to overcome the structures of oppression that shaped their lives.”
In this paper the ability of these different communities to react to social and environmental transformations are evaluated. The pedagogical approaches applied in engaging with these communities and their impact or added value are compared and contrasted. The level of conscientization regarding this subject among the case study groups research is evaluated, and those communities’ perceptions of potential social and political change is also explored. The research concludes with theoretical and practical suggestions on how to mobilise social change towards an applied conscientization regarding environmental issues. It considers the implication of such suggestions on local and global communities, and the extent to which applied volunteering can add value and empower people to make a positive impact. Consequently, this involves moving beyond the ‘banking model of education’ on environmental matters to a more ‘praxis/reflex’ model.

Repository Staff Only: item control page