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The onset of the Anthropocene challenges the very definition of education and its fundamental goals. Drawing on a multisited ethnographic project among schools and activist groups in India and South Africa, I explore what education might mean in the age of unprecedented environmental decay. I expose the depoliticizing effects of schooling and examine cross-generational knowledge transfer within and beyond formal education. I call for the bridging of schooling and environmental activism, to find answers to the global environmental crisis. For decades, environmental activist movements have wrestled with questions of responsibility and action in the face of environmental destruction; they inhabited the mental world of the Anthropocene before much of the rest of the world. My research highlights an innovative methodology of participatory observational filmmaking, describing how films made by children in the Indian and South African communities provide a window into the ways that young people make sense of the future of the Anthropocene. I argue that it is through their capacity to imagine the world differently that education can reinvent itself.
Peter Sutoris is an environmental anthropologist and Assistant Professor at the University of York, UK. Originally from (Czecho)slovakia, he studied at Dartmouth College and defended his doctorate at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Visions of Development (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Educating for the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2022).