Between Science and Politics – What Powerful Knowledge Does Landscape Ecology Offer?

Authors and Affiliations: 

Prof. Dr. Anke Uhlenwinkel, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (AT)

Corresponding author: 
Prof. Dr. Anke Uhlenwinkel

Schools nowadays are expected not only to help school students to develop their human potential and become confident, assertive and responsible national and global citizens, they are also often seen as a means to further the interests of vari-ous academic subjects and general fields of knowledge, that for several reasons would like to see themselves represented in the classroom. For the teacher and educationist this raises the question what powerful knowledge these fields have to offer and how it can help students become the kind of citizen most educational laws envision as a goal of education. The answer to this question is not always straight-forward and often asks representatives of academic fields to be clear about their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may occur when overestimating one’s own potential.
Especially for those subjects that claim to be bridging subjects between the natural and the social sciences it has to be taken into account, that they work along different logics, and that findings from one subjects are not easily transferred to other subjects. Hence knowing about positive or negative ecological impacts of a human action does not necessarily make that action legal or illegal when brought to court. In the school context, there is yet another distinction to be made, which is the distinc-tion between unnegotiable knowledge and decision-making that is open to debate and majority votes, the latter of which is an integral part of promoting confident, assertive and responsible citizens. Understanding these interrelations helps teachers to better see the powerful knowledge that can be developed in the school context. Once teachers have understood the interdependencies of subject content and societal goals, they still face the challenge of finding teaching strategies that help them to convey the intended meanings to the students.
In this presentation the intricacies of introducing landscape ecology into the classroom will be discussed using the example of a boat shed to be built on the shore of an Alpine lake. In the first part the powerful knowledge necessary to understand the issue will be explored, while the second part will offer teaching strategies that are helpful to transfer the case study to the classroom. The strategies chosen answer to both, the need for powerful knowledge acquisition and the aim to educate responsible citizens.


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Oral or poster: 
Oral presentation