Bad girls: SEAE feminists

As practicing environmental educators and researchers we trouble the power structures that entrench the masculine and the white male origin story surrounding environmental education. Certainly, women were underrepresented when ‘environmental education’ was assumed to be conceptualized (Gough, 1995). This troubling is significant in a field that perhaps ‘tiptoes’ around politics. This workshop theme arose from the Sustainability Environment and Arts in Education (SEAE) discussion group when analyzing the Hamilton and Neimanis (2018) paper, titled “Composting Feminisms and Environmental Humanities”, where despite feminism being widely associated with the field of Environmental Humanities, feminism as a “critical presence” in the field was lacking.

Furthermore, origin stories can be problematic as suggesting origin in a neat and systematic way risks excluding other accounts. This is true of the white western male dominated international gatherings such as UNESCO in Stockholm 1972 that are argued to be the origins of environmental education (Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, Logan, Khatun & Malone, 2019). The belief in this origin story is also colonial in nature as it disregards narratives including the environmental teachings of indigenous cultures such as the interconnectedness of all things and caring for country that has been central to many indigenous cultures for tens of thousands of years including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In this workshop we bad girls seek to provoke discussion and push boundaries. We explore feminism with a posthumanist lens, employing a flat ontology that avoids privileging humans. The environmental crises confronting us in the Anthropocene evokes urgency for change and a move away from a patriarchal humanist society. We argue it is important to acknowledge our emotions relating to our current crises as our anger and tears can convert into renewed energy to drive change.