The metabolic core of environmental education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I consider the case of the “simplest” living beings—bacteria—and examine how their embodied activity constitutes an organism/environment interaction, out of which emerges the possibility of learning from an environment. I suggest that this mutual co-emergence of organism and environment implies a panbiotic educational interaction that is at once the condition for, and achievement of, all living beings. Learning and being learned from are entangled in varied ways throughout the biosphere. Education is not an exclusively human project, it is part of the ancient evolutionary process of elaborating and diversifying the relational possibilities inherent in metabolism that has brought forth our diverse and flourishing world. Abstracted from context, “education” appears as a set of ways in which humans actively engage and take responsibility for the learning outcomes of relationships with each other. Insofar as we consider this distinction absolute rather than a performed construct to be assessed by its consequences, we blind ourselves to the educative dimension of other species as well as our many miseducative engagements with them. If learning processes are inherent and constitutive of ecological communities, education theorists should devote their pedagogical sensitivities and insights to the crucial challenge of developing educative sustainable human–nature relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number3
Early online date12 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017


  • enactivism
  • autopoiesis
  • environmental education
  • interspecies education
  • bacteria learning
  • posthumanism


Dive into the research topics of 'The metabolic core of environmental education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this