Moving Towards the Gynocene: a collective exploration of the intersection of feminism, environmentalism, and education

Year: 2019

Author: Siegel, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The challenges of the Anthropocene are affecting the planet in unprecedented and unexpected ways, and women’s voices are becoming more salient in responding to these emerging global conundrums. As education and research continues to grapple with Anthropocenic issues and realities (Olvitt, 2017), it is crucial to explore the ways in which environmental agency is understood, mediated, and/or inhibited in women environmentalists. This roundtable discussion will offer the opportunity for participants to learn about and interrogate the Moving Towards the Gynocene project, which employs an adapted collective biography method to deeply explore the lived experiences of women environmentalists by co-creating common stories. Researchers, practitioners, and policy makers who are interested in collective methodologies in general, or gender and environment issues in particular, will find this exploration relevant to their work.

Why focus on women when employing this collective methodology? While in a completely egalitarian world the connection between gender and the development of pro-environmental behaviours would not be of interest, an understanding of the part that gender does play could shed some crucial light in our current reality. There is weak and often contradictory evidence about gender affect and difference in pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour globally, and it is important that this area of research is further developed as we strive to understand best practice in education. This project attempts this through a combined process of story sharing, or “inter-learning”, and individual exploration, or “intra-learning”.

Collective biography is unique from other narrative forms of research in its insistence that, instead of looking at the particular autobiographical details of individual lives, the memory stories of each individual are “one facet of a whole much greater than individual selves and much bigger than human lives alone” (Davies & Gannon, 2012, p. 359).The session will in and of itself enact a collective story, beginning with a brief outline of the presenter’s experience with the collective biography method in her own project, and then encouraging participants to share their own research and experiences with collective methodologies and/or feminist theoretical frameworks in education research.