Soft Systems Methodology and Problem Framing: Development of an Environmental Problem Solving Model Respecting a New Emergent Reflexive Paradigm

Benoit Gauthier, Louise Guilbert, Marc L. Pelletier

Abstract


Problem solving models in environmental education are numerous and diverse due, in part, to the existence of different research paradigms in environmental education. This paper aims at identifying the more representative educational models in relation to the main trends of research in environmental education and the particular nature of the process of complex problem solving.

We suggest, in this paper, that a reflexive paradigm is actually emerging in environmental education. Since most existing models provide little space for defining the problem, and promoting relationships between experts and novices which are felt to be problematic, they are not compatible with this new reflexive perspective. The peculiar strategy for defining a problem situation using the Soft Systems Methodology could be added to environmental education activities explicitly dedicated to the development of critical thinking. The results would then enable educators to actualize this emerging paradigm in their practice.

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