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Abstract

The purpose of this 2-year study was to investigate Malawian teacher educators' perspectives and dispositions toward teaching about ecological sustainability issues in Malawi, a developing country in sub-Sahara Africa. This study was embedded in a larger theoretical framework of investigating earth systems science through the understanding of nature–knowledge–culture systems from local, place-based perspectives. Specifically, we were interested in learning more about eco-justice issues that are related to environmental degradation in Malawi and the potential role of inquiry-oriented pedagogies in addressing these issues. In a science methods course, the African educators' views on deforestation and teaching about ecological sustainability were explored within the context of the local environment and culture. Teachers participated in inquiry pedagogies designed to promote the sharing of perspectives related to the connections between culture and ecological degradation. Strategies encouraging dialogue and reflection included role-playing, class discussions, curriculum development activities, teaching experiences with children, and field trips to a nature preserve. Data were analyzed from postcolonial and critical pedagogy of place theoretical perspectives to better understand the hybridization of viewpoints influenced by both Western and indigenous science and the political hegemonies that impact sustainable living in Malawi. Findings suggested that the colonial legacy of Malawi continues to impact the ecological sustainability issue of deforestation. Inquiry-oriented pedagogies and connections to indigenous science were embraced by the Malawian educators as a means to involve children in investigation, decision making, and ownership of critical environmental issues. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed90:660–680, 2006