The EarthCARE framework proposes a vision of deep transformational learning processes that combine practical doing (together), the building of trust (in one another), deepening analyses (of self, systems, and social and ecological complexity), and dismantling walls (between peoples, knowledges, and cultures). In this vision, intellectual engagements, the arts, ethics, cosmovisions, the environment, and embodied practices are all understood as important conduits for learning. The framework invites learners

  • to explore the contributions, paradoxes, and limits of their current problem-posing and problem-solving paradigms,
  • to engage experientially with alternative practices that challenge the limits of their thinking and capabilities, and
  • to contribute to the creation of new paradigms of social change that open up not-yet-imaginable possibilities for co-existence in the future.

The EarthCARE global justice framework is unique as it combines six complementary approaches to justice that encourage ‘alternative approaches to engagement with alternatives’, moving beyond the search for universal models and problem-solving approaches towards  preparing people to work together with and through the complexities, uncertainties, paradoxes, and complicities that characterize efforts to address unprecedented global challenges collaboratively today.

Earth justice

  • (Re)framing “the environment” as a set of human and other-than-human relations and interdependencies, rather than a set of resources to be extracted/exploited by humans
  • Understanding the challenges of food/water security, and of soil regeneration
  • Working towards practices of clean energy, food sovereignty, zero waste, and cradle-to-cradle design

Cognitive justice

  • Identifying and interrupting the harmful effects of a monoculture of thought premised on a singular narrative of human progress, development and evolution
  • Recognizing the contextual possibilities and limitations of all knowledge systems
  • Creating interfaces between different knowledge systems that honor the integrity and gifts of each, while recognizing their limitations, as well as tensions and incommensurabilities

Affective justice

  • Prioritizing our collective need for healing from historical and intergenerational trauma
  • Recognizing the uneven distribution of collective trauma and its effects
  • Learning to be comfortable with the difficulties and discomforts of working through complexities, paradoxes, complicities, uncertainties, failures and disillusionments

Relational justice

  • Dismantling inherited hierarchies that hinder symmetrical relationships, and working towards ethical, equitable power relations, reciprocity, and solidarity
  • Taking into account interconnected contexts, and how change in one place can affect change in another, both intentionally and not
  • Securing relationships and forms of social-ecology that can uphold the health and wellbeing of present and future generations

Economic justice

  • Analysing how unjust systems of trade, labor relations, governance, extraction and value production generate unsustainability, violence and inequalities
  • Learning lessons from the failures of both capitalism, socialism and understanding the limits of seeing ‘prosperity’ as unending growth, consumption, and capital accumulation
  • Learning about alternative economic paradigms such as degrowth, buen vivir, gift economies and solidarity economies, enacting redistribution in the short-term, and creating new, non-exploitative/extractive systems in the long-term

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In order to address the unprecedented challenges that we face in an increasingly complex and globalized world, many governments have promoted social innovation and entrepreneurship as ways of creating novel solutions for pressing social problems. These modes of response, however, are often not informed by a deep understanding of how complex social change happens in unique local contexts, or of how genuinely new (and therefore challenging) ideas and social practices become realities. Ethical and just social innovation and change-making require deep learning about the social, cultural, political, economic and historical forces that shape peoples, places, spaces, and worldviews. It also requires that those seeking to make change develop sophisticated understandings of the practical, ethical and epistemological difficulties of intervening in complex and dynamic systems, particularly when this work is collaborative and intercultural.

When this understanding is missing, learning and action tend to unintentionally reproduce or even exacerbate unequal relationships between dominant and marginalized populations, simplistic explanations of inequality, and ethnocentric and paternalistic ideals of justice, responsibility, and change. They also tend to privilege simplistic interventions that alleviate the symptoms of problems rather than develop innovations that would transform the underlying economic, cultural, and behavioral root causes that underpin the systemic reproduction of inequalities. Many have pointed to the dangers of instrumental approaches to social innovation that, despite good intentions, narrow rather than expand existing social and global possibilities for justice. These risks are exacerbated if social innovators are only exposed to a monoculture of thought premised on a singular narrative of human progress, development, and human evolution – one that intensifies rather than abolishes material and existential forms of poverty and limits the capacity for developing not-yet-imagined, paradigm-shifting forms of ethical and transformative innovation.

The EarthCARE Global Justice Framework responds directly to these challenges by offering the opportunity to enable CARE-ful change-makers to gain the knowledges, skills, and sensibilities to alleviate the effects and transform the root causes of material and existential forms of poverty. It encourages and supports a unique learning experience that integrates deep self and collective reflection, intensive intercultural encounters and exchange, the practical development of ethical relations in social innovation, a reciprocal relationship between theory and practice, and historical and systemic analyses of how inequalities are reproduced in theories and practices of social and global change.

Drawing on the framework we aim to develop learning experiences that can:

  1. challenge narrow ideas of the public good, beyond market imperatives;
  2. critically evaluate traditional practices and flows of knowledge production;
  3. resist paternalistic notions of progress and development;
  4. cultivate an appreciation for the gifts of multiple epistemic traditions, especially indigenous knowledge systems;
  5. foster reflexivity through an awareness of the complexities, complicities, difficulties and paradoxes of doing this work;
  6. cultivate, develop and disseminate practices and skills that build various aspects of alternative presents and futures (e.g. around food, architecture, energy, media, waste, etc.); and,
  7. build a global alliance of social innovators and change-makers with both the passion and wisdom to confront complex social crises by advancing integrative justice.

An EarthCARE informed curriculum for global justice engages participants in experiential learning that focuses on alternatives, including alternative economies, alternative ways of relating to ecology, Southern epistemologies, and initiatives that highlight the importance of teachings from grassroots resistance and soil-centered movements, including indigenous, landless, peasant, and Quilombola struggles, with an emphasis on the knowledge of women and the reduction of gender, racial, and sexual violence and vulnerability, against intersectional systems of oppression.

This curriculum will enable learners to:

  • ask qualitatively different types of questions based on commitments to global justice;
  • form qualitatively new kinds of sensibilities and alliances that embody principles and practices of global justice;
  • engage constructively with the difficult issues and discomforts that emerge in processes of deep intercultural, intergenerational, and intersectional learning and change;
  • find sources of joy that replace the need for self-gratification, consumption, and ego-centred activities with artistic living, curious learning, interspecies appreciation, abundant friendship, and intelligent play;
  • build solutions through various creative and collective skills and practices with their hands from the ground up;
  • work with diverse and intergenerational others in dis-solving cognitive, affective, relational, economic, and ecological inequalities; and
  • weave new local and global CARE-ful coalitions that advance global justice efforts in multiple contexts.

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The EarthCare Framework by EarthCare Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.