The above quotation comes from an early view Area paper analysing the role of residential and non-residential fieldwork in geographical education. The paper argues that the outdoors has much to offer in the process of learning and enhancing geographical knowledge. It also touches on what many of us have experienced: the beneficial integration between students that working together in real world settings can evoke. While discussing the advantages of “taking students outdoors to learn in high places”, Fuller advises: “care is required to maximise its potential” (p.1).
Fuller’s reference to “high places” (defined in terms of altitude and geographical value), links to a recent project undertaken at Mount Everest’s Base Camp. Sociologists, Tumbat and Belk (Science Daily, 2010), undertook an ethnographic study of commercialised climbing expeditions and interviewed clients paying for the experience of climbing Mount Everest. Their findings indicate that Base Camp can be characterised by extreme selfishness, competitiveness and power-seeking behaviour, which the researchers link to consumer behaviour and the marketplace. This contrasts with many outdoor activities that report communitarian spirit and camaraderie among those taking part. This perhaps supports Fuller’s argument that care is required to maximise the potential of extraordinary experiences for, as he notes, learning and experiencing together outdoors can provide “the glue which bonds together a student cohort” (Fuller, 2011:2).
Fuller, I.C. (2011) Taking students outdoors to learn in high places. Area (forthcoming)
Be sustainable. The answer is pretty simple right – consume less. But is it that simple ……..
In a recent article in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Gibson et al. (2011) discuss the interface between climate change, household consumption and sustainability. The authors asked interesting questions such as whether the impacts of transporting items sold on EBay outweigh their re-use value, and whether eating local food actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions. They also described the conundrum when choosing between two different ‘sustainable’ options, such as whether to re-use plastic supermarket bags for bin liners, or whether to shop using reusable bags and then buy bin liners.
Such debates can be tiring and confusing. What can one do? Well Naresh Ramchandani and Andy Hobsbawm may have the answer for you in the form of Green Thing:
‘Green Thing is for those of us – and there’s a lot of us – who don’t get turned on by the tree-hugging thing, the guilt thing, the scientific thing or the world-is-at-an-end thing. Green Thing is a simple thing, a fun thing, a creative thing and a community thing. It’s for anyone who wants to lead a greener life but hasn’t found a way.’ (Green Thing Website 2010)
So I encourage you to give the Green Thing a chance, its innovative approach to sustainability may be just what you are looking for.
Gibson et al. 2011.Climate change and household dynamics: beyond consumption, unbounding sustainability. Trans Inst Br Geogr 36:3-8