Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Acknowledging the OU EDM Programme

In 1997 we set up a new Post Graduate degree in Environmental Decision Making (EDM) at the Open University (UK) because we wanted to move beyond the mainstream understanding of Environmental Management (EM). In particular we wanted to move the focus away from 'an environment' that needed to be managed to a focus on how all decisions took the environment into account.  Thus EDM was a different form of practice (praxis) to the prevailing EM paradigm.  As first Director of the program it was always difficult to know how much impact our program had. None-the-less it got off to a good start and has had a strong stream of students ever since. 

Now, in its wisdom, the OU is rebranding all its Environmental offerings under the rubric of Environmental Management (following expensive advice from external consultants).  We shall see how this unfolds.  Rebranding of course does not mean that the usual high quality teaching will cease, nor that a systemic perspective, as was developed in EDM, will be abandoned. In fact Systems academics at the OU are making significant contributions ot the rewriting of undergraduate EM courses.

Recently I had occassion to read a paper by Andrew Halliday and Marion Glaser (2011) A management perspective on social ecological systems: a generic system model and its application to a case study from Peru Human Ecology Review 18 (1) 1-18.  This is a thought-provoking paper.  It was good to see in the acknowledgements the following:

'The first author wishes to thank members of the project team of Pro Naturaleza’s Manu Project for their friendship, insight, and stimulating collaboration, and acknowledge his debt to the Open University’s post-graduate course Environmental Decision Making — a Systems Approach, which pointed the way towards the view of social-ecological systems outlined in this paper.'

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