Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Cleaner Production
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jclepro
A pedagogy of interconnectedness for encountering climate change as r
a wicked sustainability problem isss
Anna Lehtonen • , Arto Salonen 3 , Hannele Cantell a , Laura Riuttanen
3 University of Helsinki, Department of Teacher Education, Finland
b University of Eastern Finland, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, Finland
c University of Helsinki, Department of Physics, Finland
Received 8 July 2016
Received in revised form
23 May 2018
Accepted 18 July 2018
Available online 23 July 2018
Climate change education
Climate change is a wicked problem of our time. It is a phenomenon that is difficult to combat with
prevailing ways of thinking and behaving related to a modern understanding of humanity and education.
In this article, the challenges of sustainability education are explored from the theoretical perspective of
modern dichotomies. The article argues that to combat wicked problems of sustainability, awareness of
interconnectedness is vital. In order to increase the understanding of what kind of dismantling of
thinking in dichotomies and why the awareness of interconnectedness and pedagogical approaches are
crucial in promoting sustainability, the literature of environmental philosophy, sociology and education
are brought together with the literature of sustainability sciences and sustainability education. The
principles of pedagogy of interconnectedness define the critical awareness of interconnectedness vital for
sustainability education dealing with the wicked sustainability issues such as climate change. The
pedagogy of interconnectedness underlines the essentiality of understanding of the world and humans
as relational: recognizing the interdependence of society and nature, the local and global, and seeing the
common reality as socially constructed and humanness and learning in a holistic way. A case of uni¬
versity pedagogy, the Climate.now online course material is presented and analysed as an example of
interconnecting climate change education, how to implement the principle of pedagogy of intercon¬
nectedness in practice.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The wicked sustainability problems of today can be understood
as the results of ignorance of the consequences of consumption,
inattention to human dependence on ecological realities and the
exceeding of planetary boundaries (Steffen et al„ 2015). Climate
change is one of these wicked problems, as it is a huge, complex and
systemic challenge, difficult to clearly define or foresee the conse¬
quences of solutions (Incropera, 2015). In addition, different
stakeholders provide conflicting information related to climate
change, its relevance and impacts due to different interests of
knowledge. As a global issue, the implications and solutions need to
be reflected both locally and globally. Furthermore, the challenges
of maladaptive behaviour and the cultural and emotional aspects of
climate change make it difficult to find efficient solutions to the
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (A. Lehtonen).
0959-6526/© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
problem or predict the results (Incropera, 2015).
Even with the complexity of today's alarming sustainability
challenges, the tendency is to use simplifying and contrasting,
seemingly quick and efficient problem-solving strategies. This
tendency creates, strengthens and focuses on dualisms instead of
on understanding the complex processes of change. An over¬
reliance on binary opposites has created a tendency to exaggerate
differences, confound descriptions and encourage prescription. The
overburdened dualism overlooks continuities, underplays contin¬
gencies and overstates the internal coherence of social forms
(Wacquant, 1996; Sayer, 1989, 666).
The major sustainability problems cannot be solved on the basis
of our current way of living and will require a shift from traditional
ways of thinking and acting upon environmental and socio¬
economic problems (UNESCO, 2002, 2014; Tilbury, 2007). Climate
change, as a wicked problem and a signal of severe sustainability
challenges, requires carefully considered responses which consider
the root causes, are based on a systemic understanding and are
participatory, transformative and transgressive (Kagawa & Selby,
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
2010; Sterling, 2009; Corcoran et al., 2017).
Transformative learning and education, challenging societal
paradigms and the re-thinking of education to be more responsive
are regarded as imperatives in sustainability education (Palmer and
Neal, 2003; Pittman, 2004; Sterling, 2003, 2009; 2010; Wolff, 2011 ;
Laininen, 2018). Ecological intelligence, a holistic awareness of
interconnectedness and systems thinking have been regarded as
essential in sustainability education and as the core competencies
needed for solving the wicked problems related to sustainability
(i.e. Palmer and Neal, 2003; Pittman, 2004; Sterling, 2004, 2009;
Wolff, 2011; Glasser and Hirsh, 2016).
Despite decades of efforts to develop effective environmental
education and education for sustainable development, severe gaps
remain between education and sustainability (Wolff, 2011). The
inconsistency between the reality of educational practices and the
rhetoric of environmental education has been a real challenge
(Sauve, 1999; Stevenson, 2007; Wolff, 2011). The serious dilemmas
between sustainability and education can be understood as related to
a fragmented worldview and the modern dualistic understanding of
humanness (Wolff, 2011 ). Thus, in order to find effective approaches
to sustainability education, it is relevant to understand how
modernism still affects prevailing societal and cultural practices as
well as education, even though there are signals of new and more
sustainable ways of thinking emerging (Sterling, 2009; Wolff, 2011 ).
The purpose of this article is to provoke a critical reflection of
the prevailing dichotomized thinking and the essentiality of
awareness of interconnectedness, and their implications in sus¬
tainability education on the basis of the theoretical frame of
modern dichotomies. In the article unsustainable thinking in di¬
chotomies and a dualistic worldview are examined within the
context of climate change.
The research questions are as follows: 1) What kind of
dismantling of dichotomized thinking and awareness of intercon¬
nectedness is vital in designing sustainability education and why?
2) How were the principles of pedagogy of interconnectedness
applied in practice of the design of Climate.now online course
material for higher education?
In the sections that follow, first the origins of unsustainability
and climate change, the modern dichotomized thinking related to
alienation, unsustainability and climate change, and its reflection in
education are explored, and the most problematic dichotomies
related to sustainability education are illustrated in Fig. 1. Second,
the relevant aspects of the awareness of interconnectedness are
demonstrated in Fig. 2 are explained: relationalism, the eco-social
approach, the socially constructed climate change and the socially
organized emotional response to climate change, and the integra¬
tion of different ways of knowing. Third, the critical aspects of the
awareness of interconnectedness for sustainability education
dealing with wicked problems are presented as the pedagogy of
interconnectedness. Finally, in order to dismantle the gap between
theory and practice, a case of university pedagogy, the design of the
Climate.now course, is presented and analysed as an example of,
how to apply the principles of a pedagogy of interconnectedness in
practice of higher education.
2. Material and method
To construct the frame for a pedagogy of interconnectedness,
the literature of environmental philosophy (Vogel, 2015; Orr, 2004;
Naess and Rothenberg, 1990, 2008) and sociology of climate change
denialism (Norgaard, 2011), the philosophy of environmental ed¬
ucation (Wolff, 2011) are brought together with sustainability
literature. The prevailing thinking in dichotomies related to
unsustainability and gaps in sustainability education are explored
within the frame of modern dichotomies. The key dichotomies
related to climate change, social—individual, nature—culture,
mind—body, rational—emotional, and art—science are dismantled
on a basis of theoretical reading for creating a basis for pedagogy of
A case of interconnecting climate change education for higher
education, Climate.now is presented and analysed by applying the¬
ory directed approach to content analyses (Hsieh and Shannon,
2005). Climate.now (www.climatenow.fi/) is online material
designed for a 5 ECTS course on the basics of climate change. It was
produced by a multidisciplinary group of experts in Finland in 2016
in transdisciplinary collaboration within natural, environmental,
technical and educational scientists and artists from the University
of Helsinki, the Lappeenranta University of Technology, and the
Metropolia School of Applied Sciences in Finland, and funded by
SITRA, Finnish Innovation Fund. The first, second and fourth authors
of the article were involved in the designing process of the course
material of Climate.now. The development process of the theoret¬
ical, pedagogical thinking of interconnectedness started separately
but simultaneously with the designing of the Climate.now material,
and continued after the course material was published.
The material of Climate.now contains written material, video
lectures and interviews, assignments, tests and a guide for teachers
including guide lines for contact sessions and criteria for assess¬
ment. The content of the material was analysed on the basis of
pedagogy of interconnectedness, how the principles of pedagogy of
interconnectedness were applied in the course material.
3. Dismantling thinking in dichotomies and the awareness of
In the following sections, the modern dichotomies critical in
designing sustainability education are dismantled and reflected on
from several theoretical perspectives. The origins of unsustainability
related to dichotomized thinking and the manifestation of this type
of thinking in education are explored. In the end the vital awareness
of interconnectedness for sustainability education is explained.
The modern era, characterized by the scientific and industrial
revolution, is seen as the beginning of increasing consumption and
unsustainability. The philosophical and scientific revolution of the
Enlightenment defined natural resources as limitless and inex¬
haustible and thus legitimated the industrial revolution (Zafirovski,
2010; Gay, 1996). According to Richard Norgaard (1994), atomism,
mechanism, universalism, objectivism and monism, the meta¬
physical premises deriving from the modernism dominant in
Western culture, help explain the cultural and biological destruc¬
tion (Norgaard, 1994; Laininen, 2018). Anthropogenic activities
such as deforestation, agricultural practices and the burning of
fossil fuels, which have resulted in large shifts among carbon pools
related to global warming (IPCC, 1995), originate from the modern
era and the philosophical revolution of the Enlightenment.
3.3. Modem dichotomized thinking and education
Dichotomized thinking, that is, dividing and separating ideas
and objects into two opposing parts or classifications, is regarded as
typical of the modern era. In the era of the Enlightenment, the
1 Modernity as a historical category refers to a period characterized by a ques¬
tioning or rejection of tradition; the prioritization of individualism, freedom and
formal equality; faith in inevitable social, scientific and technological progress and
human perfectibility; rationalization and professionalization; a movement from
feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism and the market economy; industri¬
alization, urbanization and secularization; and the development of the nation-state
and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance (https://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Modernity. Foucault, 1995, 170—77).
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
idealization of individual rational minds and reason as the primary
source of authority was the grounding philosophical principle
guiding the development of scientific methods and knowledge
(Outram, 2006). Distancing the knowing subject from the object
has promoted an instrumental relation with nature, the body, other
people and society (Wolff, 2011, 84—85). Human alienation from
nature is seen as related to a dualistic understanding of the mind/
soul and the body. Reason is regarded as a human quality implying
the superiority of humans over other animals in Western philoso¬
phy. Philosophical differentiation of the mind and the body as
separate units, most famously associated with Cartesian dualism
(Crane & Patterson, 2012), has been a constant mindset throughout
history (Wolff, 2011, 85.). The mind and body dichotomy has been
central in promoting an instrumental value relation to nature in
contrast to nature having intrinsic values.
Dichotomized thinking is integrated into modern education,
where the ideals of rational humanity and objective knowledge are
inherent. A typical goal of modern education is a rational individual
citizen with the skills to succeed in competition and a fragmented
knowledge of different fields and disciplines (Orr, 1991 ). As a result,
the focus in education has not been the understanding of human
dependence on holistic socio-ecological systems; the limits of hu¬
man life; questions of will and desire; and social responsibility,
emotions, imagination and embodied knowing (Orr, 1991; Sterling,
2009; Kagawa and Selby, 2010; Wolff, 2011). Instead, educators and
learners have been provided with good skills of analysing, catego¬
rising and labelling things, seeing detail and dealing with parts and
focusing on one factor or goal at a time. However, to deal with re¬
ality of wicked sustainability issues the skills of reframing, making
synthesis, coping with uncertainty, resilience, and multiple in¬
telligences and ways of knowing are necessary (Sterling, 2009).
According to Lili-Ann Wolff (2011 ), profound gaps exist between
education and sustainability that can be understood as related to a
segregated worldview and the modern dualistic understanding of
humanness. These include the gulf between human and nature,
knowledge and action, the rhetoric of environmental education and
educational practice, the researcher and the object, knowledge and
power, different generations, and the dilemma between individual
desire and social obligations. To address the challenging gaps of
sustainability education, Wolff (2011) defines the goals of sustain¬
ability education as the promotion of self-transformation through
self-understanding and self-training, the development of social
relations and collective responsibility, and the promotion of an
understanding of the natural world and life on a global scale. In the
following sections the essential goals of sustainability education are
enlightened in relation to dichotomies of nature—culture, social-
—individual, mind—body and reason—emotion, and art—science.
3.2. Alienation and dichotomized thinking
According to Steven Vogel (2015), climate change as an unin¬
tended commons is a tragedy. It is an unintended result, produced
in both individual and collective practices. Vogel (2015, 207) refers
to Marx’ concept of alienation when explaining how climate
change is an unintended socially produced result. Human alien¬
ation from nature and socially produced reality has resulted in
severe sustainability challenges such as climate change. According
2 According to Marx’s account, to be alienated from something is to fail to
recognize it as something one has helped to produce ; under alienation, the objects
built by human practice - both the particular commodities built by labour and the
broader phenomena generated by the "invisible hand" — appear as independent
powers over and against human lives. In Marx's sense, we cannot be alienated from
“nature”, but we can be (and are) alienated from the built environment — in that we
do not recognize its sociality and its builtness (Vogel, 2015).
to Vogel (2015), this alienation might be the reason for the lack of
understanding of how individuals interact with the common
physical, ecological and social reality of climate change. Sterling
(2003) describes the phenomenon of alienation is an epistemo¬
logical battle heated by the tension between the parts and the
whole. ' Separateness is an operative way of knowing, and this
thinking reflects itself throughout Western culture. Relations are
seen as win—lose games instead of win-win possibilities, and the
focus is on parts of the system instead of their relations (Sterling,
2003, 2009, 2010; Laininen, 2018). Alienation has been used as a
concept to describe a sense of loss, harnessing subjectivity to ob¬
jects for capitalist interests. This has proceeded to new dimensions
in the sphere of digital technology and cyberculture. In the time of
digitalization the exploitation involves the human mind, language
and emotions in order to generate value (Berardi, 2009.).
A modern dualistic worldview and alienation have replaced the
perception of man as an integral part of nature. Seeing nature as an
object of instrumental benefit has led to attitudes of indifference
and overconsumption (Wolff, 2011). The impact of private indi¬
vidual acts or thoughts is not generally considered to have signifi¬
cance in the social and global reality. The effects of human
behaviour on socio-ecological systems has not been considered in
individual or institutional decision making within societies. Due to
globalization, the distant ecological and social consequences and
impacts of consumption on other people and ecology have become
obscured (Conca et al., 2002). Focusing on local action and solu¬
tions, while neglecting global impacts or the impacts on distanced
localities has induced severe sustainability challenges. We are
living in the Anthropocene era, in a reality where human activities
impact the environment on all scales (Crutzen, 2002, 2006; Cook
et al., 2013), Human intervention has affected everything; thus,
everything in the world is different from what it would otherwise
“naturally” be. Through land use activities, producing pollution and
waste, and altering geochemical cycles, and changing the climate,
people have made every spot on Earth manmade and artificial
(Crutzen, 2002, 2006; Vogel, 2015.).
People have ignored the human dependence not only on nature
but on other people. Individuals have been separated from the
social production of reality, the common ecological, social, material
and nonmaterial reality. Social and economic systems are separated
from nature, and decisions are based on reasoning with a false
assumption of the separateness of emotions and values (Laininen,
2018). However, the maladaptive behaviour, the social and psy¬
chological aspects of climate change, has brought sustainability
problems to a wicked level. Research has proven that scientific
knowledge about ecology and human dependence on nature does
not solely alter sustainable behaviour (Kollmuss and Agyeman,
2002). The neglect of ethical and emotional dimensions of
climate change makes climate change education meaningless and
inefficient (Selby, 2010).
The modern dichotomies most problematic from the perspec¬
tive of sustainability education and climate change are illustrated in
Fig. 1. At the core of the sustainability challenges are the di¬
chotomies between the individual and social, and culture and na¬
ture. People have become alienated from socio-ecological systems
(Marcott et al., 2013). A dualistic worldview has replaced the
perception of man being an integral part of nature (Bateson, 1972).
Alienation and denial are socially produced and organized cultural
responses to climate change (Norgaard, 2013; Vogel, 2015). An
3 Decontextual separation - a deep-seated belief that the wellbeing of the iso¬
lated part is won in the struggle against other parts — is in opposition to the un¬
derstanding that the wellbeing of the part depends on the wellbeing of the whole
and vice-versa (Sterling, 2003).
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
understanding of the global impact of local decision making is both
missing and essential in a globalized world with global sustain¬
ability threats. However, at the core of this dichotomized thinking is
the mind and body dualism, related to the idealization of reason
and the neglect of emotional attachment and ethical awareness.
Dismantling the dichotomy of art and science is essential for
enriching scientific knowledge with different ways of knowing in
order to illuminate the human response to climate change.
3.3. Sustainability as awareness of interconnectedness
If unsustainability is seen as related to dualist, dichotomized
thinking, finding effective approaches to sustainability challenges
and decreasing global warming requires a holistic understanding of
interconnectedness 4 5 (Nash, 1989; Kagawa and Selby, 2010) and
relationalism (Naess and Rothenberg, 1990). Interconnectedness
emphasizes the relational nature" of things. According to rela¬
tionalism, things exist and function only as relational entities
(Naess and Rothenberg, 1990, 56).
From a sustainability perspective, interconnectedness can be
found in several dimensions. People are part of eco-social systems,
and cultural attitudes and responses to climate change are socially
produced and organized. Natural conditions and people's living
conditions are interdependent, and local and global are interre¬
lated. Each person is involved in the continuous social construction
of reality, and the individual choices of living and thinking have an
impact on the common global reality of climate change. In addition,
individuals have a crucial role in socialization processes, defining
norms and taboos by acting or not acting, speaking or staying quiet,
and even by thinking. Sustainable decision making is based on
relational intelligence including both the emotional and ethical
intelligence (Pless and Maak, 2005) and common good thinking
4 For historical perspectives on interconnectedness in environmental philosophy,
see Nash (1989).
5 Relationalism refers to the theory of reality that interprets the existence, nature
and meaning of things in terms of their relationality or relatedness. In the rela-
tionalist view, things are neither self-standing entities nor vague events but rela¬
tional particulars (Naess and Rothenberg, 1990).
(Glasser, 2017). The above mentioned essential aspects of the
interconnectedness of sustainability are explained in the following
paragraphs from different theoretical perspectives and illustrated
in Fig. 2 at the end of this section.
3.3A. The eco-social approach
The eco-social approach to education, defines the human-
—nature relationship as asymmetric because humans are fully
dependent on nature, even though nature can flourish without
humans (Salonen, 2014). In the big picture, an asymmetric inter¬
connectedness also exists between the biosphere, society and the
economy in the real world. Without a well-functioning biosphere,
there can be no society, and without society, there can be no so¬
cietal functions, including an economy (Salonen, 2014; Salonen and
Konkka, 2015). The economy is a sub-system of a larger finite sys¬
tem, the biosphere (Max-Neef, 2010, 203—204). Therefore, the
economy is also a sub-system of society (Pilipenko, 2015). It is
impossible to benefit from the prosperity created by economic
growth if the environment where humans live is ruined. This
means that the common good of all living creatures is also good for
an individual human being on a longer time scale. Commons
thinking refuse the logic well-being depending on exploiting the
other people or the environment, but elevates understanding of
interdependence and common good (Kenrick, 2009).
3.3.2. Socially constructed climate change
Steven Vogel (2015; 36) underlines the essentiality of under¬
standing the social reality of climate change as socially constructed
and produced unintendedly in both individual and collective
practice. He refers to the philosophy of social constructionism for
unmasking the hidden and forgotten processes of the collective
production of social reality. According to social constructionism,
knowledge should be understood as an active process, as we come
to know nature only through transforming it (Vogel, 2015, 45—47).
Wolff (2011) refers to Foucault's thinking and describes the essential
understanding of knowledge similarly to Vogel. Knowledge is “not an
objective or a matter of free-floating facts — it is a collective undertaking
that involves everyone individually and socially in interaction with the
many relations of a person's life, both rationally and emotionally, including
self-relation, relation to others, and to physical nature."
3.3.3. The socially organized emotional response to climate change
The emotional response to climate change is socially organized
and adapted in social interaction, according to the sociology of
climate change. According to Kari Mari Norgaard (2011 ), individuals
often collectively distance themselves from information about
ecological threats and behaviour related to them because of norms
of emotion, conversation and attention. Furthermore, our social
environment provides us with a general idea of what we can
disengage from and what we should repress from our conscious¬
ness or ignore. Inattention occurs in response to social circum¬
stances and is carried out through the process of social interaction.
The prevailing responses to climate change, literal, interpretive and
implicatory denial, which minimize the psychological, political and
moral implications of climate change, are all socially organized
(Cohen, 2001, Norgaard, 2011; 9).
Moreover, the emotional aspect of climate change needs to be
6 The theory of social constructionism highlights the fact that the world has a
social and historical origin and is actively, socially constructed. Social construc¬
tivism applies the ideas of social constructionism to psychology and education.
According to social constructionism, concepts are created by human beings, and
this creation occurs in a historical social context, but it does not follow that the
referents of those concepts are thus created (Hacking, 1999, Vogel, 2015; 35), as the
ecology of our planet is not socially constructed.
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
carefully considered as eco-anxiety is a severe issue (Pihkala, 2017).
People need the help of supportive communities to cope with
climate change anxiousness and great fears about the future
(Norgaard, 2011). The threat of climate change to the continuation
of life, and the culpability of all people in its cause are psycholog¬
ically unbearable issues (Lehtonen and Valimaki, 2012). Besides,
people need an emotional attachment 7 to nature in order to
demonstrate environmentally responsible behaviour (Orr, 2004)
and experience the connection embodied with other people and
nature in order to have the motivation to take care of them
(Martusewicz et al., 2014). Embodied and emotional awareness is
essential, as emotional literacy and ethics are related (Nussbaum,
2003; Goleman, 2006). The emotional aspect of learning should
have a focus in education as emotional awareness, since emotions
affect learning and thinking (Phillips, 2009). In addition, emotional
and embodied literacy are important for creating a common vision
of sustainable well-being. According to Naess (2008: 23). ‘‘What is
good life, goes primarily through emotions."
3.3.4. Integration of different ways of knowing
For deepening the understanding of critical sustainability issues,
discovering connected identities and creating new ideas and
alternative visions of sustainable life, new ways of thinking are
needed as wicked problems can't be solved with the same strate¬
gies of knowing, that has resulted in problems. To deepen the un¬
derstanding of different dimensions of climate change,
transdisciplinary knowing is relevant. According to Kagawa and
Selby (2010, 242—243), “There is a need for complementary and
recursive use of artistic, embodied, experiental, symbolic, spiritual, and
relational learning, especially in the vital educational task of recon¬
necting learners to the earth while enabling them to discover their
connected identity and realize their full potentials.” Integration of
various ways of knowing helps in construction of a multidimen¬
sional understanding of phenomena.
Enriching rationality, analytic and mechanistic ways of knowing
with creative ways of knowing, emotional and ethical intelligence
are critical in envisioning and creating a more sustainable future
(Kagawa and Selby, 2010). In addition, experiental and embodied
knowing, the integration of mind and body is crucial in sustain¬
ability to make knowledge about interconnectedness meaningful.
The integration of art and science in art-based learning processes
have an immense potential in learning for sustainability
(Eernstman, and Wals, 2013) and in addressing the modern di¬
lemmas of education. Personal meaning perspectives can become
enriched in artistic dialogue and encounters with other people and
the world. For example, concepts such as sustainable development
or sustainable future can be re-embedded into the world and
practice of living by applying art-based methods (Eernstman and
To improve the situation of sustainability, the crucial di¬
mensions of an awareness of interconnectedness are illustrated in
Fig. 2. The spiral in Fig. 2 demonstrates the need for dismantling,
deconstructing and integrating dichotomized thinking on the meta
level and designing practices where they are integrated. The spiral
begins from the middle, and the dismantling of dichotomies starts
from the individual's reflection on experiences and ways of seeing
the collective reality. The role of science, philosophy and education
is to provoke the dismantling and deconstructing of dichotomies, to
create pathways as theories, concepts and practices in between
dichotomies, and to promote the understanding of interconnec¬
tedness, common goods thinking, interdependence and the nature
of the eco-social human being.
7 Biofilia, having the meaning of affinity and love for all life (Orr, 2004).
To summarize, combating climate change necessitates disman¬
tling the modern fragmented worldview and alienation: thinking in
dichotomies needs to be demolished. The awareness of intercon¬
nectedness is central in the construction of sustainable societies
and lifestyles and in education. Encountering climate change and
other related big challenges of unsustainability necessitates critical
consideration of effective, transformative pedagogies to provide
people with systems thinking s (Glasser and Hirsh, 2016) and critical
and creative learning skills (Kagawa and Selby, 2010). In the
following chapter, we present the principles of a pedagogy of
interconnectedness defining the vital awareness of interconnec¬
tedness contra thinking in modern dichotomies is essential in
Fig. 2. Awareness of interconnectedness for sustainability.
4. Principles of a pedagogy of interconnectedness
As a conclusion of the theoretical exploration of the problematic
thinking in dichotomies and needed integration in the section 3.,
the principles of pedagogy of interconnectedness define the critical
awareness of interconnectedness for sustainability education. The
pedagogy of interconnectedness aims at enhancing the under¬
standing of the world and humans as relational: recognizing the
interdependence of society and nature, the local and global, and
seeing the common reality as socially constructed. In order to
promote awareness of interconnectedness, the humanness and
learning needs to be considered in a holistic way, and the per¬
spectives of knowing need to be widened through the integration
of science and arts in education.
Essential awareness of interconnectedness in sustainability
A view of oneself, the human and the world as relational.
Integration of human culture and nature, the local and global.
• Understanding of the interdependence of and becoming con¬
nected with nature and society, global ecosystems and the
community of people.
8 Systems thinking means awareness of linkages and interactions between ele¬
ments that compose the entire system of a persisting problem (Capra, 1996).
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
• Becoming aware of oneself being a part of and having an impact
on global eco-social reality and global ecosystems.
Integration of the individual and social.
• Becoming aware of how the individual and common good are
parallel on a longer time scale.
• Becoming aware of how emotional and value-based responses
to climate change are socially organized by norms and taboos
and how every individual is part of this socialization process.
Individual acts, thoughts and attitudes construct the common
reality and matter.
Integration of mind—body, reason and emotion, intuition, and
arts and science.
• Becoming connected with oneself, with integrated and
embodied experiences, thoughts, feelings, needs, values and
your own creativity related to the body and mind.
• Becoming aware of how emotions interfere in knowing and
guide personal values.
• Deepening the understanding of humanness and search for
sustainable humanness and solutions for a sustainable life.
• Searching for alternative ways of seeing reality; a creative
visioning of sustainability.
A pedagogy of interconnections enhances the need for special,
integrative pedagogical approaches considered in line with
learning goals for promoting the awareness of interconnectedness.
Collaborative learning, phenomenon-based learning and arts-
based learning as experiental, embodied, collaborative and crea¬
tive learning approaches are suggested as effective means that
could enhance an awareness of interconnectedness. Common
goods thinking can be learned in the practice of collaborative and
participatory learning that integrate individual and social aware¬
ness in pedagogical practices and facilitate empowerment in
collaboration. Transdisciplinary studying real world issues, can
enable the integration of knowledge about the human and nature,
and the nature and society of different fields. Through integration
of arts in education it is possible to critically reflect on personal and
cultural images, attitudes, norms and taboos. Furthermore, the
integration of arts and science enables exploring humanity and its
relations, widening perspectives and looking at reality differently
in alternative ways, which are imperatives for future thinking and
essential elements of art-based learning (Boeckel, 2014).
5. Climate.now; interconnecting climate change education
Climate.now, an online course material for a higher education
institution, is an example of practice and analysed from the theo¬
retical basis of the pedagogy of interconnectedness. Climate.now
consists of multidisciplinary online material for a multidisciplinary
study and a teaching module (5 credits) on the basics of climate
change. The study material contains written material, video lec¬
tures and interviews, tests, various applied assignments such as a
learning diary and project work, and a guide for teachers that will
help anyone familiarize themselves with the basics of climate
change. In the Table 1 the goals and the content of Climate.now are
related to the modern dichotomies and the different dimensions of
pedagogy of interconnectedness.
Climate.now is an example of interconnecting climate change
education on many aspects. The design of the course material is
transdisciplinary, and the material was produced in multidisci¬
plinary collaboration with natural, environmental, social and
educational scientists and artists. The learning packages of
Climate.now offer multidimensional perspectives on climate
change as an interconnected physical, ecological, societal, cultural
and ethical issue. The course material includes several inter¬
connected learning packages, such as Climate change in different
fields or Big issues, covering large topics such as food production and
the role of forests in climate change. Students work in multidisci¬
plinary groups during the course and complete multidisciplinary
project assignments on prepared topics. The collaborative learning
in study groups may offer experiential learning about common
good thinking in practice.
In the teachers’ guide, the learning approach is defined as sys¬
temic, participatory, dialogic and experiential learning in which
climate change is discussed in different connections and contexts.
In addition to understanding climate change and the related in¬
teractions, learning also focuses on becoming aware of different
attitudes and ways of thinking.
An eco-social, global and ethical awareness of interconnected¬
ness is deepened by the project assignments of Climate.now. These
assignments consider Himalayan glaciers, Hurricane Katrina, which
hit New Orleans in 2005, and stories of individual people in
different parts of the world in very many aspects containing natural
scientific, social scientific and ethical questions. The goal of the
project assignments is for students to apply the topics in the course
to the contexts given and, through local and global perspectives,
gain a more in-depth understanding of what they have learned.
A personal relationship with the topic, integration of social and
individual, and critical thinking are enhanced by writing learning
diaries. In the learning-diary the students are asked to reflect on the
meaning of the content to themselves as persons, as a member of a
society and to their field of study. The learning diary has a crucial
role for integrating the individual and common awareness, as the
diary should be discussed in the peer-group meetings. Moreover,
the aim of writing in a diary is to promote reflection on climate
change from ethical and emotional aspects, and to connect the new
learning experiences and content to what has been learned before.
Furthermore, the course design aims at engaging students by
promoting awareness of each person and field of study having a
crucial role in climate change, this is strengthened especially
through creative project assignments searching for solutions to¬
ward a society where climate change has been resolved. Within
Climate.now, integration of individual and social, promoting active
agency is enhanced by reflective assignments on the different roles
one has in relation to climate change and the role each field could
have in combating climate change. At the end of the course the
students are asked to use their imagination and creativity to look
for solutions in a utopian assignment, imagining a world where
climate change is resolved and designing a climate project of their
own. Becoming aware of the meaningful role each person has in
climate change might activate people to engage in critical reflection
of prevailing responses, and the search for a new, more sustainable
way of living.
The principles of a pedagogy of interconnectedness are visible in
the criteria for assessment. The criteria include studying and
examining the issues in depth from various points of view; having a
transdiciplinary approach and demonstrating systemic thinking;
displaying a transformative approach to climate change; critical,
creative and ethical thinking; awareness of the local and global as
interrelated; critical reflection; and meta-thinking in their personal
6. Concluding remarks
In order to strengthen the transformation to cultural and soci¬
etal sustainability through education, critical exploration of pre¬
vailing thinking and pedagogical practices is a prerequisite. To
A. Lehtonen et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 199 (2018) 860-867
Pedagogy of interconnectedness and Climate.now course materials.
Dichotomy Pedagogy of interconnectedness
Learning goal ( Climate.now)
Content or exercise ( Climate.now)
Seeing the world as relational
Seeing a man as a part of global eco-social
Systems thinking, ecological thinking and global
Seeing the reality of climate change, and cultural
responses as socially constructed and organized
with each person having a meaningful role in the
Interconnected learning packages: Systems thinking,
climate change in different fields, big issues
(international negotiations, food, forestry)
Various perspectives of climate change: Connections Project assignments: Case New Orleans, Himalaya,
Basic knowledge: climate change as a scientific
phenomenon, mitigating it and adapting to it
Seeing the human, and learning and knowing
Embodied and experiential learning
Creative learning and visualization
between the environment, the economy and
different parts of society
Recognition of climate change as a global, human
and ethical challenge
Reflection on one's personal role in climate change
as a person, member of society and an expert of
one's own field
Looking for solutions to climate challenge in a
variety of ways, and examining the different
perspectives, solutions, sources of information and
the current debate about climate change from a
critical point of view
Reflection and discussion on images, associations
and emotional responses, and ethical issues related
to climate change
Creative thinking, visioning new, sustainable ways
Stepping into experts' shoes in different localities
Learning diary: Reflection on personal and common
images of climate change, on one's personal role in
climate change, reflection on one's own field and
future role as an expert
Learning diary: Carbon footprint
Contact session: Discourses on climate change:
climate change and the media
Learning diary: Climate change and humanity
Video/Learning diary: Challenges of sustainability:
common goods and life-affirming thinking
Introductory exercise: Climate change around us
Learning diary: Reflection on ethical issues and
emotional responses related to climate change
Learning diary: Utopia assignment: world of resolved
Project assignment: Visualization solutions for
climate change in your own field
strengthen the effectiveness of educational responses, educational
practices need to be designed in line with learning goals. This de¬
mands critical thinking on the meta level. In this article the roots of
unsustainability are examined from the point of view of alienation
and fragmented thinking related to modern dichotomies. As a
result of the theoretical exploration of the modern dichotomies
that strengthen alienation, the educational response called peda¬
gogy of interconnectedness is outlined.
Pedagogy of interconnectedness aims at promoting human
interconnectedness through enhancing awareness of interconnec¬
tedness in educational practices. This means seeing humans and
learning in a holistic way: integrating minds and bodies, reason and
emotion; and seeing the world and humans as interconnected: the
interconnectedness of the individual and social, nature and culture,
the local and global, and the integration of art and science to create
new insights and alternative ways of understanding.
Identifying interconnectedness contra the prevailing dichoto¬
mized thinking and making interconnectedness visible in educa¬
tional practices make it possible to dismantle the prevailing
segregated and dichotomized thinking. Redesigning education for
sustainability necessitates the consideration and development of
new learning approaches. Collaborative, participatory learning and
exploring real-life issues could integrate individual and social re¬
alities, foster active agency and relational systems thinking.
Moreover, integrating art and science into learning processes can
enable enriching rational thinking with intuitive thinking and
cultivate creativity and an embodied and emotional understanding
of the wicked sustainability challenges of humanness.
In this article, a case of university pedagogy, Climate.now, the
online course for higher education, was presented as an example of
how the principles of pedagogy of interconnectedness could be
applied in practice. In the course design of Climate.now, trans¬
disciplinary, transformative and collaborative learning are
promoted by studying in multidisciplinary study groups; systemic
understanding is provoked by integrative and creative learning
assignments; critical self-re flection and ethical awareness are
enhanced in the instructions of the learning diaries; and these goals
were ensured by the criteria for assessment.
In the complex reality of climate change, redesigning education
for sustainability and consideration of new learning approaches are
needed on all levels of education. The core of pedagogy of inter¬
connectedness is to enhance critical reflection of dualistic and
segregated ways of thinking and to promote the awareness of
interconnectedness. The focus is on making visible the contradic¬
tions of the prevailing thinking and recognize unexpected, bewil¬
dering connections. This enables a more realistic understanding of
the complexity of climate change and the creation of novel, various
engaging encounters with climate change. With their focus on
interconnectedness, these various approaches together can create a
powerful response to climate change as the wicked burning sus¬
tainability challenge of our time.
This work was supported by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.
Climate.now was funded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.
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