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Research for the People, by the People: The Political Practice of Cognitive Justice and Transformative Learning in Environmental Social Movements

by Jane Burt
Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University, Makhanda 6139, South Africa
This quote comes from December Joseph Ndlhovu, a participant in the Changing Practice courses, who has recently become a course facilitator. He stated that the best people to research the contexts of people who bear the brunt of environmental injustice are those experiencing it and acting to change it.
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5611; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205611
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 4 August 2019 / Accepted: 24 September 2019 / Published: 12 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgressive Learning and Transformations to Sustainability)
This paper describes how Changing Practice courses, developed by environmental activists in South Africa and based on social learning practice, have seeded cognitive justice action. For the educator-activists who facilitated these courses, it became apparent that we needed a bold emancipatory pedagogy which included cognitive justice issues. This enabled us and the activist-researcher participants to understand the extent to which local, indigenous, and spiritual knowledge had been excluded from water governance. The paper investigates how participants in the ‘Water and Tradition’ change project, established by the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA, engaged with cognitive justice, to demonstrate how African spiritual practice offers a re-visioning of the natural world. Finally, using the tools of critical realist theory, the paper reviews how VEJA bring about transformative social action through their participation in the Changing Practice course. View Full-Text
Keywords: cognitive justice; transformative environmental learning; social learning; African spiritual knowledge; critical realism; transformative environmental social action cognitive justice; transformative environmental learning; social learning; African spiritual knowledge; critical realism; transformative environmental social action
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Burt, J. Research for the People, by the People: The Political Practice of Cognitive Justice and Transformative Learning in Environmental Social Movements. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5611.

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