Gilbert White never came this far South: naturalist knowledge and the limits of universalist environmental education.

Andrew Brookes


'Naturalist' is a complex category, which contains opposites. When understood a certain way, 'Naturalist' knowledge can be readily universalised into environmental education, and abstracted into formal education. But 'naturalist' knowledge can also be construed as an antidote to tendencies to overgeneralise outdoor environmental education. In the reading of what it means to be a naturalist that I present here, I use the work of 18th century British naturalist Gilbert White to explore the idea of a life interwoven with the natural history of a particular place, and some implications for environmental education in Australia. I draw attention to some shortcomings of approaches to environmental education that globalise ideas developed in particular North American or European environments.

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