University of Oulu

Kopnina, H.; Saari, M.H. If a Tree Falls: Business Students Learning Active Citizenship from Environmentalists. Educ. Sci. 2019, 9, 284.

If a tree falls : business students learning active citizenship from environmentalists

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Author: Kopnina, Helen1; Saari, Maria Helena2
Organizations: 1International Business, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, 2521 EN The Hague, The Netherlands
2Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-12-03


This article presents and discusses student assignments reflecting on the documentary film If a Tree Falls, written as part of the Business Ethics and Sustainability course at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This article follows two lines of inquiry. First, it challenges mainstream environmental education, supporting critical pedagogy and ecopedagogy. These pedagogies, which advocate pedagogy for radical change, offer a distinct and valuable contribution to sustainability education, enabling students to critically examine normative assumptions, and learn about ethical relativity, and citizenship engagement from environmentalists. The discussion of “lessons of radical environmentalism” is pertinent to the question of what types of actions are likely to achieve the widely acceptable long-term societal change. While this article focuses on student reflection on a film about radical environmentalism, this article also discusses many forms of activism and raises the question of what can be considered effective activism and active citizenship in the context of the philosophy of (environmental or sustainability) education in connection didactics and curriculum studies. Second, this article argues for the need for reformed democracy and inclusive pluralism that recognizes the needs of nonhuman species, ecocentrism, and deep ecology. The connection between these two purposes is expressed in the design of the student assignment: It is described as a case study, which employs critical pedagogy and ecopedagogy.

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Series: Education sciences
ISSN: 2227-7102
ISSN-E: 2227-7102
ISSN-L: 2227-7102
Volume: 9
Issue: 284
Pages: 1 - 16
DOI: 10.3390/educsci9040284
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
616 Other humanities
516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (