As one of the organizers of the next World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC), to be held in June of 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden, I was asked to introduce some of the key topics to be addressed during the congress at the European Environmental Education Days (Bergamo, Italy, September 24-25, 2014). Since it was a bit consuming in terms of time and energy… we agreed that I would record my talk here in Gothenburg where I am currently part of my time. In the talk I use the release of the iPhone 6 as an entry point to talk about the complexity of socio-ecological challenges that are compounded by a dominating neo-liberal view of economics. I end the talk by briefly touching upon some of the main themes of the congress. The conference website at http://www.weec2015.org has just opened its abstract submissions feature and people can submit their abstracts until mid-December. Environmental and sustainability education will need to go hand in hand if we are to make a transition towards a healthier, more equitable, just and mindful society that does not further compromise the carry-capacity of planet Earth.
In this new paper a key policy ‘tool’ used in the Dutch Environmental Education and Learning for Sustainability Policy framework is introduced as a means to develop a sense of place and associated ecological mindfulness. The key elements of this tool, called the vital coalition, are described while an example of its use in practice, is analysed using a form of reflexive monitoring and evaluation. The example focuses on a multi-stakeholder learning process around the transformation of a somewhat sterile pre-school playground into an intergenerational green place suitable for play, discovery and engagement. Our analysis of the policy-framework and the case leads us to pointing out the importance of critical interventions at so-called tipping points (see the figure below) within the transformation process and a discussion of the potential of hybrid learning in vital coalitions in strengthening ecological mindfulness. This paper does not focus on establishing an evidence base for the causality between this type of learning and a change in behavior or mindfulness among participants as a result contributing to a vital coalition but rather focusses on the conditions, processes and interventions that allow for such learning to take place in the first place.