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The Creative Arts as a Significant Path to Green Ethics

World Environment Magazine, 2012

Art can be perceived as a discipline facilitating the visualization of our relation to others, the environment, spirituality, and our own selves. Moreover, it can be used as a tool to infuse green ethics into the young generation’s lifestyle. In 2010, the ‘living green ethics’ course was introduced in the curriculum of the Notre Dame University of Louaize, Lebanon, at the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences. Today, it is going strong.

The aim of this initiative is to provide a platform for students to discover their sense of self, amidst both natural and built environments. This includes the roles, characteristics,
comportment, and links that we deem most significant about ourselves as social beings, and inhabitants of our planet. Students from various disciplines join the experience to express on a piece of paper a sketch of new relational dynamics, but also to contribute their different perspectives, either in an arts studio or out in nature. In other words, this course provides a new creative space for young generations to form an intimate rapport with themselves and Mother Earth.

Knowledge and Action: An Intricate Link
Evidence is increasingly pointing towards education as the basis of our vision for a better future. By engaging students in various artistic expressions, ‘Living green ethics’ offers students valuable knowledge about the ecosystem, making for highly aware citizens of the world. These teachings gradually permeate all aspects of their lives as they become increasingly involved in active life. The collaborative learning processes used here give birth to a dynamic ‘learning community’, preparing one to be an effective stakeholder in environmental protection and sustainable development, in various aspects of life.

The Self as the Starting Point
The Environment, Societies & Ethics course, of which the ‘living green ethics’ is part of, guides students through various exercises such as that of asking vital questions linked to their identity. The latter can be classified as ‘anthropocentric, non-anthropocentric, ecofeminist, deep ecologist, or having special unique bonds’. This activity enables participants ‘to define the moral values of all that is found in the outside world’.

Students Undergo the Following Experiences
– Discovering the environment, wildlife, ecosystems services and goods, and the
anthropocentric factors affecting the environment
– Learning green ethics through the historical evolution and types of moral relationships between human and nature
– Applying green ethics at international, regional and national levels
– Living green ethics in the different aspects of human life

The end of the course is marked by a short expedition for students to immerse themselves in the natural world, or ‘to shape oneself with biodiversity’, hereby appreciating, sensing, and caring for the value of natural Lebanese heritage.

Harmony as Our Original Mode of Communication
During this process, the students’ first revelation is: ‘we are leaping back in time to childhood! It is amazing how we have lost our harmonious relationship with nature as we have progressed on our life’s journey!’ A mosaic of drawings portraying human beings and nature, collages made of natural elements, or personal quotes are but a few examples of the output of a fruitful day. These ‘patchworks’ of ideas serve as future scenarios, dependent on different choices of action, such as imagining the world without biodiversity, or with increasingly anti-social behavior.

Guiding students in the discovery of green ethics is certainly a mission to be fulfilled with patience, perseverance, and love! However, is it not our passion as teachers to support students as they flourish into responsible inhabitants of our countries and planet? Must we wait to sit on university benches to get in touch with what matters most in our education?

World Environment Magazine, 2012 | Issue No. 9, Page 140-152.


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