Environmental Education in Brazil and the Influence of Paulo Freire
- Marcos ReigotaMarcos ReigotaUniversity of Sorocaba
In Brazil and around the world, the ideas of Paulo Freire have impacted the field of environmental education, at least since the 1970s. It is possible to observe and associate the influence of Paulo Freire, when environmental education emphasizes the political dimension of any and all pedagogic activity, as he so emphatically stated. Another central aspect of Freirean influence relates in particular to the objective that environmental education should make “participation” possible, as advocated by the first documents produced and disseminated by UNESCO. Although the topic of environmentalism, in its best-known sense and definition of the protection of nature and natural resources, was not initially at the core of his pedagogical thinking, a strong concern with the theme can be seen traversing his work in the 1990s. In this sense, the international academic institutionalization of environmental education and the support that this pedagogic and political movement received after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was crucial for consolidation by means of public policies and projects elaborated by NGOs as well as by the theoretical production and curricular changes that took place in universities around the world, with different thematic priorities, theoretical and methodological focuses, and impact on the population and on the natural and social environment. Since 2009, especially in Brazil and other Latin American countries, dissertations and theses have leaned toward this production, identifying and analyzing the increase of Freirean pedagogy in connection with environmental education, defined as “the political education of citizens.” Political actions in everyday pedagogical practices for social and environmental justice, alongside various other rights (e.g., cultural), are urgent issues to address. The connections between environmental education and Freirean pedagogy have contemporized both, as they clarify the central arguments of Paulo Freire’s political and pedagogic thought, which reaffirmed throughout his extensive production that access to education is a universal right, and that it is by means of education (including the environmental dimension) that political processes for the construction of just, democratic, and sustainable societies are solidified.