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S Radical HE

Radical Human Ecology

Chair: U. Loening

Contributors are Zoltán Péter Alföldi, Svenja Meyerricks and Luke Devlin, Maria Edite de Oliveira, Anne Winther.



Presentation by Zoltán Péter Alföldi: "Assessing sense of place in Hungarian villages" - Presentation Session Part 1


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Rural settlements in the industrial world are facing complex and continuing environmental, social, and economical challenges in the 21st century. Havind numerous advantages (for example, closer-to-nature locations, calm and quiet living conditions, and smaller communities with the potential to form closer relationships) which are favorable for many people, they are struggling with various difficulties, such as environmental degradations, restricted job opportunities, and, consequently, decades of emigration for young generations fostering urbanization. Therefore, we designed a complex sense of place investigation completed in four middle-size (with inhabitants between 1000 and 3000) villages with different physical, historical and economical characteristics (e.g., agriculture, mining) in the Trans-Danubian Region in Hungary. We have used a uniform questionary with 18 open and closed, structured and semi-structured questions to assess human-nature relationships, knowledge, attitudes and preferences relating their home places. We firmly believe that our results have human ecological relevances, as well.


Presentation by Svenja Meyerricks and Luke Devlin: "Radical human ecology: scholar-activism for our times" - Presentation Session Part 2


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What is the role of human ecology in a ‘post truth’ world that suffers from information overload and knowledge evaluation and action deficit?  The Scottish stream of human ecology – what McIntosh (2011) termed a ‘radical human ecology’ (RHE) which integrates the material world with “metaphysical interiority” has evolved with the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) since 1972. RHE involves reflective inquiry on power and agency and co-creates tools for transformative and convivial action and different ways of knowing while remaining rooted in scientific rigour and consensus. This is in line with the IPCC’s 2022 report which recognises the value of diverse forms of knowledge such as scientific, indigenous and local knowledge to inform adaptation processes.

RHE has been crucially influenced by the Scottish generalist tradition, which goes back to biologist, sociologist and town planner Patrick Geddes who also coined the phrase ‘head, heart and hand’. An embedded focus on communities as liminal spaces for climate action (Meyerricks 2021) can be beneficial for RHE scholar-activists to effect change as been reflected in CHE’s emphasis on action research and involvement in community empowerment in Scotland (for example, in the Isle of Eigg’s community 1997 buy-out). Pedagogy and research of this type can inform evidence-based bioregional policy-making to meet the changes demanded by IPCC reports.


Presentation by Maria Edite de Oliveira: "Peer-mentoring as a promoter of integration and adaptation to higher education. Benefits in terms of academic motivation, self-concept, academic experiences and academic success" - Presentation Session Part 3


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In recent years we have witnessed major transformations within the context of higher education, mainly in the mass access to it, which corresponds to an increase in heterogeneity among students and consequently, to greater sociodemographic diversity and differentiation of school trajectories, knowledge background, abilities and motives of students. It is, therefore, essential to know these differences in order to provide a better transition and adjustment to this stage of life. In this sense peer mentoring has proved to be an essential tool in facilitating and smoothing the transition processes from secondary to university, allowing new students to create bonds of friendship, develop a sense of belonging to the institution and provide themselves with resources. Personal and interpersonal skills that resources. Personal and interpersonal skills that allow you to experience this new challenge in an adapted and rewarding way.

The aim of this work is to evaluate the impact of peer mentoring in terms of academic motivation, self-esteem, academic experiences and academic success. Three moments of evaluation were carried out, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the program, using the followiing instruments: EMA (Scale of Academic Motivation), QVA-r (Questionnaire of Academic Experiences – reduced form) and the SPPCS- Self-Perception Profile for College Students. The results obtained confirmed all the research hypotheses put forward by us. Peer mentoring has benefits in terms of students ́academic motivation, self-concept and self-esteem, academic experiences and academic success. In this sense, we conclude that peer mentoring is a useful tool that contributes positively to the integration and adaptation of students, particularly when they reach higher education.


Presentation by Anne Winther: "Radical Human Ecology is Co-operation:  experiences building alternatives for higher education" - Presentation Session Part 4


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Radical human ecology in 2022 remains on the fringes of academia: too raw, critical, frank and honest in revealing the human predicament and too humble and ethical for financial profiteering.  It is a poor fit as a core faculty in a neoliberal university.  The Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) is a 50-year old educational charity, founded in 1972 by a member of the Club of Rome at the University of Edinburgh, but long-since ‘cast-off’ (like many other radical departments in the UK) by the university system. CHE now operates as an independent educational charity and co-operative in Scotland.   At CHE we continue to critique both modernity and the neoliberal university, but recognise that small educational charities cannot survive alone.  Seeking support through solidarity, there has been a ‘co-operative turn’. CHE is a founding member of a UK-wide collective (the ‘Co-operative University Working Group’).  Four years on the ‘Co-operative University’ remains out of reach, but collectively we are pursuing the development of a quality and recognition standard, or council.  Encouraged and informed by the ‘Co-operative University’ project, CHE has considered, developed and implemented human ecology as, for and with co-operation; this ‘co-operative intellect’ encapsulates our approach and epistemological, ontological and pedagogical practices of human ecology. We seek others in solidarity to share in this discourse to imagine and seek to realise the full potential of human ecology.