Political Geography 23 (2004) 917–927 www.elsevier.com/locate/polgeo
Political ecology as ethical practice
Department of Geography, Box 353550, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Abstract Pedagogy is not an issue generally addressed in discussions of ethics in political ecology. These discussions commonly focus upon research agendas and methodology and do notconsider teaching and learning political ecology as ethical and political practice. This paper argues that public scholarship can make political ecology’s approach more concrete for students, because it focuses upon problems of inequality and resource access in their own communities and can foster ethically informed research projects useful to state and nongovernmental organizations while openingnew research venues for students, teachers and community members. The paper’s argument consists of three parts. In the ﬁrst, I provide an overview of ethics in geography. Next I discuss the relevance of radical pedagogy to critical human geography and to political ecology and rework radical pedagogy’s deﬁnition to include a consideration of public scholarship. Finally, I demonstrate how politicalecology as an approach to public scholarship may spark and sustain student activism and value-driven forms of learning and teaching in an undergraduate classroom. Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Political ecology; Pedagogy; Ethics; Public scholarship
Questions of moral obligation and responsibility, good and bad and right and wrong are deeply tied to geography’s ‘‘ontologicalproject and epistemological process’’ (Proctor, 1998: 8). Moral and ethical assumptions encompass the ways that our research is conceptualized and practiced, the structures and contents of many of our courses, our teaching philosophies, and our sense of professional obligations and responsibilities. Topics such as poverty and inequality, racism and sexism, the politics of food and famine, andquestions of environment-society relations are of interest to many geographers. Substantive questions concerning space, place and
) Tel.: C1-206-543-7933; fax: C1-206-543-3313. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. 0962-6298/$ - see front matter Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2004.05.014
L. Jarosz / Political Geography 23 (2004) 917–927
ecology intheir relation to socioeconomic and environmental justice, human rights, and compassion and concern for other people and places continue to inform scholarship and pedagogy within our discipline (Bryant, 2000; Proctor & Smith, 1999; Merrett, 2000; Heyman, 2000). These concerns resonate throughout the discipline’s diversity of ﬁelds. This essay grapples with two questions with examples drawn frompolitical ecology: (a) How do we manifest our ethical positionalities, knowledge and action in scholarship and through teaching? (b) How do we encourage an ethically informed self-criticality in our research and teaching? The paper’s argument consists of three parts. In the ﬁrst, I provide an overview of ethics in geography. Next I discuss the relevance of radical pedagogy to critical human geographyand to political ecology and rework radical pedagogy’s deﬁnition to include a consideration of public scholarship. Finally, I demonstrate how political ecology as an approach to public scholarship may spark and sustain student activism and value-driven forms of learning and teaching in an undergraduate classroom.
Ethics in geography: research and public scholarship Recent discussions of ethicsin geography have pivoted around issues of self and other and our obligations and responsibilities to ‘‘distant strangers’’ near and far (Corbridge, 1993; Cloke, 2002; Smith, 2001). Marc Auge (1998) asks two key questions in this regard: ‘‘How do we retain a sense of the other and a sense for the other in terms of environments and the societies living within them? How do we understand ourselves...
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