Making Connections

Learning about the environment involves learning about ourselves and others.

Sustainability is about making connections. It involves finding out about oneself as well as learning about other people and places. People are linked to the past through history, culture, religion and beliefs. They are connected to different parts of the world through travel, economics and geography. 

However, the way that we live our lives is also fundamentally informed by the way that we interpret our experiences. Time, space and imagination can be combined in complex ways to create narratives which have a sense of meaning and purpose (Figure 1).


Figure 1 - Notions of time, space and culture combine in complex ways to create narratives that drive our actions

After Scoffham, S. (2017) Teaching Geography Creatively (2nd edn.), London: Routledge p225

The idea that sustainability involves finding out about oneself might at first seem surprising. However, if sustainability is viewed as a mindset then the logic becomes apparent. One of the consequences is that there are no easy solutions to sustainabilty issues. Actions that address immediate problems need to tap into deeper thinking if they are to have lasting impact.

1) Read this extract from an article by Andrew Motion on the English countryside. What is it that Andrew Motion values so much about the English countryside?

Read the extract »

2) What are the different connections suggested by this video of sea birds at Midway Island?


3) What do you think about the links between language and biodiversity suggested in this article?

Read the article »

Here are three responses to a residential field course:

"I came back feeling revitalised and aware of connections, not only between people and the natural world, but also between sustainability issues."

Psychology student

"I am more concerned and conscious of our role in society and the impact we have in the immediate and wider world. I feel I have a much more open mind about how sustainability can be interpreted across many different areas and applied in any different ways."

Trainee teacher

"For me it was one of the highlights of the last ten years I have worked at the University. It was an opportunity to talk to people across Faculties. I found that so rewarding because it’s about building social capital within your own institution - And it was fantastic getting to know like-minded people."

Tutor in Community Nursing

a) Apart from making multiple connections, what else do you think contributes to a sustainability mindset?

b) Explore how you think the notion of social capital applies to sustainability.

Capra, F. and Luisi, P. (2014) The Systems View of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (see especially Chapter 17 'Joining the Dots')

Louv, R. (2008) Last Child in the Woods, New York: Algonquin (see especially Part VII To Be Amazed)

Rowson, J. (2019) ‘Bildung in the 21st Century – Why Sustainable Prosperity Depends Upon Re-imagining Education’, Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) Essay Series, available at

New Mindsets »

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Find out more about sustainability in practice at Canterbury Christ Church

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Last edited: 22/11/2019 13:10:00