Over the course of the unit my attitudes and understanding towards scientific education has significantly changed. I truly understand the importance of creating a scientifically literate community to create a more ethical and conscious citizenship that will help future generations in living a sustainable way of life. I hope to present to future students of the Bachelor of Education course with some ideas that could guide there own learning in relation to the centres of care that may not be material covered directly in the unit.
Care for the Distant Other
The Centre of care that resonated most deeply with me and prompted a lot of my own research away from the course material was the care for the distant other. I found that we are so removed from the suffering of others due to our position of privilege. However it is our own responsibility as future educators to find out about such matters and to grow ethically in order to best be able to educate our students. The resource “The Story of Stuff” introduced the concept of the engrained nature of the exploitation of people in the third world country for economic gain. (Explored further in Week 3 of my blog). This prompted me to see how the role I played in this process as a consumer.
As a young woman the majority of my consumption of goods is directed at the fashion industry. I learn that as the demand for fast and cheap fashion in the developed world continues we see increased pressure placed on foreign resources for cheap labour and materials. In the 1960s America was making 95% of their clothes domestically but today only make 3%, with the 97% outsourced to developing countries. When big companies base their production in foreign countries we see these people’s land is stripped of its natural resources and is exploited by the companies. This cases the people to be forced into factory jobs. These sweatshops have extremely poor working conditions and no safety regulations are upheld. “As women join the migration from rural to urban areas, they are vulnerable to economic and sexual exploitation—sweatshop labour, trafficking, abuse or violence; factory workers face possible exposure to chemicals, dust or other forms of pollution.” (‘The State of World Population’, 2001).
The use of sweatshops by multimillion-dollar companies highlights the complete lack of care and human dignity that can exist when dealing with economics. A study showed that doubling the salary of sweatshop workers would only increase the consumer cost of an item by 1.8%, while consumers would be willing to pay 15% more to know a product did not come from a sweatshop. (Pollin, Burns, & Heintz, n.d., 2004). Thus serves to highlight that the general public do support the end to sweatshops and wish to become conscious buyers yet there is a lack of transparency of companies that prevent this. With research however ethical companies can be found and thus used to highlight to students the power our choices as a consumer can have on others and to think more ethically.
Care for other Ideas, Beliefs and Cultures
This centre of care realises the importance of diversity and will allow all of these to coexist with care/ openness to listening and allowing their continuation without prejudice. In order for humans as a global community to move towards a better future for our planet we need to focus on the inclusion and value of different personal perspectives. The Earth Charter, which is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century emphasises the notion of care for others ideas.
“Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.” (“The Earth Charter”, 2016)
Therefore the Charter can be used as a framework to educate students about the need for a united global community and for that to be achieved we must value and respect people’s own personal values and explore how their ideas can help shape our own. Further exploration of this centre of care is found in week 4 of the reflections, relating it to Aboriginal values of land. I think the importance of Aboriginal studies across a broad sense of curriculum is that it allows us to show respect and value for an important part of Australian culture and pay our respects.
Care for Plants and the Physical Environment
This centre of care I found was at the core of much of the resources that were explored during the unit. I found it the easiest to relate to and understand, with only a few of my weekly reflections not relating back to this centre of care.
I found the most interesting way the concept the importance care for the physical environment was explored was through the concept of biocapacity and global hectares. Biocapacity is defined as the amount of resources that nature is able to produce, demonstrating that the earth is a finite resource. The average biocapacity available per person is 1.8 global hectares. A global hectare is a measurement unit for quantifying both the ecological footprint of people or activities as well as the biocapacity of the earth or its regions. One global hectare represents the average productivity of all biologically productive areas (measured in hectares) on earth in a given year. So essentially for us to be able to live sustainably on this planet every humans global hectare usage has to be at our below 1.8. This is however far from the reality, with the Victorian average at 6.8. So here is clear quantifiable proof that we are not doing enough to reduce our impact on the environment.
The part I enjoyed was how engaging this concept becomes as there is a personal calculator that can be utilised to track your own ecological footprint and thus you can compare your global hectare usage to world averages. I think tools like this are crucial as they although us to have a personal connection to the science and to see where we can take action and make improvements. The Ecological Footprint can therefore be utilised to further the importance of sustainable practices, although same people incorrectly see it as a threat to human wellbeing and will result in a lower standard of living. However, this is completely the opposite understanding. Ecological Footprints seeks to help secure quality of life within the reality of one planet. It shows us that ignoring ecological limits is a major threat to human wellbeing and opens up.
Although this is only one example further links to the care for the environment can be found in my weekly blog, especially week 11 that provides 3 more examples.
State of World Population 2001 | UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund. (2016). Unfpa.org. Retrieved 22 March 2016, from http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2001/english/ch04.html
Pollin, R., Burns, J., & Heintz, J. Global Apparel Production and Sweatshop Labor: Can Raising Retail Prices Finance Living Wages?. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.333325
The Earth Charter – Earth Charter. (2016). Earth Charter. Retrieved 26 March 2016, from http://earthcharter.org/discover/the-earth-charter/