Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Systemic Environmental Decision Making - the need for praxis

The current meeting in Bali to plan beyond the Kyoto agreement, the new directions for Australian policy following election of the Rudd Labor Government and the needs in the UK to ensure that Government commitments to 'sustainability' are honoured, all draw attention to the need for new forms of praxis for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Praxis is theory informed action and is as relevant, or more relevant, than many of the claims for evidence-based practice. At the Open University our course on 'Environmental Decision making: a systems approach' has a focus on praxis which is proving popular. This is one of the core courses in the Masters in Environmental Decision Making.

Policy needs praxis, or perhaps more importantly a praxiology - an understanding of effective action. Effecting action on the back of good policy is where systems-based practice approaches can help. In a climate-change world systemic environmental decision making praxis is needed to engage with and 'improve' complex situations characterised by uncertainty, connectedness and, often, conflict and multiple perspectives. In the world as we now understand it any approach to dealing with wicked problems, or managing 'messes' or effecting 'joined up' or 'whole of government' actions necessarily has to take the environment into account.

As the images show the course has four set books (one for each block of the course) supported by a Techniques book as well as Readings for each block. The course is presented over 23 weeks twice a year. In the coming presentation 123 students are registered. Some of the course materials, which also includes a DVD can be purchased directly from the Open University.

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