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The imperative of regenerative development

Alan Flurry

A new publication from Fausto Sarmiento, professor of mountain science in the department of geography, expands on the concept of Montology as a Transformative Frame for the Future of Education About Mountains. The paper, following on recent scholarship from Sarmiento, posits an intriguing concept that takes an important step beyond discussions of sustainability:

Montology, the transdisciplinary science of mountains, applied to education incorporates several pedagogical approaches that could be used to energize the transformative change from sustainable to regenerative development from different perspectives. We include pedagogies with learning outcomes that apply 9 different educational methodologies, and we revisit them in the context of montology to focus on integrative, holistic mountainscapes as subjects of scholastic and nonscholastic educational initiatives. We discuss how these pedagogies must engage different stakeholders, including students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. We conclude that the future of mountain education relies on incorporating the new narrative of regenerative development, not only sustainable development, for the convergent science of mountain teaching and learning to be effective. This paper encourages educators to change paradigms to address the future agenda for education about mountains.

Innovative work underway at multiple levels is claimed here, an international and very forward-looking pedagogical effort that foreshadows a conservation shift away from maintenance. It seems crucial to move beyond the [mere] avoidance of depletion of natural resources as an ecological model of sustainability.

"Indeed, the sustainable development narrative is now some 30 years old and the paradigm of "maintaining past conditions for the future" is now being challenged with the new imperative of regenerative development, instead, making restoration ecology the tour-de-force for environmental research," Sarmiento said. "Regeneration of conditions with even improved outcomes from the past, then, becomes the guiding theme of the new montological paradigm, not to keep-it-as-is but to recreate-it-better, some say co-create instead, because this is a transdisciplinary process and not a disciplinary one."

Important to see this movement extending to our classrooms. See also the work of UGA faculty members on Drawdown Georgia, as well as similar efforts detailed in the documentary film Kiss The Ground.

In recognition of the United Nations' Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, many scholars are focused on the theme of regenerative development, from many disciplines and institutions around the world from 2021 to 2030.  

Image: Students in the UGA Study Abroad program in Ecuador in 2012, learning about montology from local scholar César Cotacachi. (Photo by Ethnostek/Otavalo/Ecuador)

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