Seminar Series 2023

  1. Date: 19th Jan 2023 

Living trees grow, branch and sprout from within the midst of their arborescence: can we say the same of human lives 

Abstract: Every individual organism’, wrote the philosopher Henri Bergson, ‘even that of a man, is merely a bud that has sprouted on the combined body of both its parents’. Living trees grow, branch and sprout from within the midst of their arborescence. Can we say the same of human lives? What does the comparison tell us about how grown-ups and children carry on their lives together, and about the passage of generations? Are family trees like real trees, or upside down?

Speaker: Prof. Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen) 


Bio: Tim Ingold is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 2022 he was made a CBE for services to Anthropology. Ingold has carried out fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory. His more recent work explores environmental perception and skilled practice. Ingold’s current interests lie on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture.

  1. Date: 27th April 2023

Renewing participatory democracy: Walking with young children to story and read the land

Abstract: This presentation discusses findings from a current research project (Mitchell, Cowie, Tamatea, McMillan, & Kahuroa, 2022) being undertaken in three early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand. The project explores the affordances for young children in ECE settings of regularly walking, reading and storying the land with whānau (extended family), iwi (tribe) and community members for developing relationships with land and with people. Participatory democracy provides the value base and framing. For us, participatory democracy is “a way of relating to self and others, an ethical, political and educational relationship that can and should pervade all aspects of everyday life” (Moss, 2011, p. 2). In this presentation, I describe an example from Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten, where children are working with community members on a project to revitalise the local Tamaki estuary. Children’s mapping of the land through their artwork and research, and their developing working theories about the land and people are discussed. A main argument is that through these experiences, children develop whanaungatanga ki te whenua – connectedness with whenua or place, whanaungatanga ki te tangata – connectedness with people, and whanaungatanga ki te taia, te aotūroa – connectedness with the environment and natural world.

Speaker:Professor Linda Mitchell, University of Waikato, New Zealand. 


Bio: Linda Mitchell is Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and currently Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has spent many years researching and critiquing early childhood education policy, and researching with teachers in action research projects. She has just completed research concerning refugee and immigrant families in early childhood education constructing pathways to belonging, and is now working on this current project concerning walking with young children to story and read the land. Her most recent books are Democratic Practices and Policies in Early Childhood Education: An Aotearoa New Zealand Case Study (Springer, 2019) and a co-authored book, The Decommodification of Early Childhood Education and Care. Resisting Neoliberalism (with Michel Vandenbroeck and Joanne Lehrer, Routledge, 2023).

  1. Date: 11th May 2023

Ecosystem services of hidden urban green spaces: quantifying the benefits and engaging the public to motivate climate resilient action

Abstract: In this talk, I will present our latest research on ‘hidden’ urban green spaces, including quantifying climate regulating ecosystem services of urban gardens and brownfield land. In addition, I will share details about our public engagement work which trialled use of playful learning techniques, including Lego – rarely used in environmental science – to empower new audiences to take personal action on climate resilience

Speaker: Dr Gina Cavan (Manchester Metropolitan University) 


Biography: Gina Cavan is Senior Lecturer in GIS and Climate, Deputy Director of the Ecology & Environment Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University. Gina is a geographer, specialising in applied climatology and urban ecosystems. Her research has generated new knowledge and tools to assess the urban ecosystem services of green infrastructure and associations with health and wellbeing.

  1. 13th July 2023

A sociocultural exploration of children’s interest in science

Abstract: Much of the literature on children’s engagement with science is founded on an assumption that interest in science is a personal characteristic, which is sparked by memorable experiences. In contrast, this seminar explores a practice theory of interest in science, which adopts a sociocultural view and holds that children’s interests cannot be studied in isolation from their fluid and constantly forming identities, and are situated in a social, cultural and historical context. Such interests and identities are positional and are often developed and enacted in accordance with major structural divisions in society. This seminar focuses on the data (photographs, drawings and conversations) for one case study child, Isla, and the role that theory played in data analysis and interpretation. It explores the social situatedness of her relationship with science, examines the symbolic meaning of her interests and the cultural signs and tools she uses to story herself, and how she is storied by others.

Speaker: Dr Zoe Crompton (Manchester Metropolitan University) 


Bio: Zoe Crompton is a Senior Lecturer in Primary Science Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. Previously, she taught in school for 10 years before becoming a science consultant, which gave her the opportunity to support local teachers in school and train teachers internationally. Her doctorate focused on young children’s interest in science, enacted as part of their developing identities at home and school. She is currently researching South Asian student teachers’ experiences on placement.

  1. Date: 21st Sep 2023

Paradise lost? Dark pedagogy beyond alienation

Abstract: The presentation examines the theoretical import of dark pedagogy on environmental education discourses and place-based pedagogies in particular.  The task of place-placed pedagogy is often defined as overcoming our collective alienation through various pedagogical means that contribute to restoring a lost sense of belonging between the human and more-than-human environment. In contrast to these perspectives, the presentation explores the premise of dark pedagogy according to which alienation is fundamental to human existence, making harmony with the human and the more-than-human impossible to achieve.  Using encounters with ruin aesthetics as a case example, the presentation discusses the possibilities of place-based pedagogies in bringing up alienation as a subject of exploration rather than something to be overcome.

Speaker: Dr Antti Saari (Faculty of Education and Culture) Tampere University, Finland. 


Bio: Antti Saari is an Associate professor in Tampere University Faculty of Education and Culture in Finland. His main research interests include the history and philosophy of education and curriculum studies. His recent work has explored the import of  psychoanalytic theories to educational theory and policy studies of education. Currently, he leads the EnAct research project which explores the emergent modes of self-cultivation in environmental activism. Saari is the leader of the research group Political Philosophies and Sociologies of Education (POISED).

  1. Date: 19th October 2023 

Weaving the pluriverse: Children’s encounters with forest communities along Birrarung Marr

Abstract: This talk explores young children’s encounters with forest communities along the banks of Birrarung Marr, an ancient Aboriginal meeting place in the city of Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. Using creative ethnographic methods, it focuses on children’s involvement in an immersive theatre-making project exploring the intricate subterranean networks of communication and care between trees and mycelium in the local area. Weaving ethnographic description with insights from Indigenous philosophies, the concept of the ‘pluriverse’ is evoked to consider how multispecies worlds are variously assembled, stolen, sustained, exhausted, regenerated, and interwoven along Birrarung Marr. The paper suggests that listening closely to Indigenous accounts of pluriversality can offer important opportunities for learning to understand forest communities as animate and caring societies. It further discusses how a recuperation of children’s agency in the face of climate change can be drawn from ‘multi-naturalist’ Indigenous wisdom traditions, many of which are embedded within more-than-human kinship systems that respect, nurture, and value children’s intuitive understandings of animism from a very young age. These perspectives challenge Western developmental models of childhood which assume an incremental progression toward a mythological state of ‘independence’, showing instead how children move from one set of animate dependency relations to another in continuous contact with more-than-human worlds.

Speaker: Dr David Rousell, RMIT University Australia 


Bio: Dr David Rousell is Senior Lecturer in Creative Education at RMIT, where he teaches and researches in the areas of climate change education, creativity studies, and education futures.

  1. Date: 17th November 2023 

Multiple Outcomes from Multiple policies: Insights on multidimensional sustainability from policy mixes

Abstract: Reducing and reversing forest loss without negatively affecting the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities remains an critical but intractable challenge. Over the past decade there have been substantial methodological advances and increases in the availability of data to understand the social and environmental impacts of forest-sector policies. Less attention has been paid to understanding the relative effects and interactions of different interventions that co-occur in both space and time, and how their impacts are influenced by broader socio-economic changes. Such insight is critical to understanding what interventions have worked where and why. In this talk, I discuss how we can use high-spatial resolution, national-level datasets to understand drivers of forest cover change and tackle global forest restoration challenges.

Speaker: Johan Oldekop (University of Manchester) 


Bio: Johan Oldekop is Reader in Environment and Development at the Global Development Institute. His work focuses on understanding the kinds of policies, interventions and social processes that lead to better outcomes for people and the environment. Johan’s research combines a range of different approaches from the natural and social sciences, including environmental sciences, geographical information systems, political science, and economics. He leads the Sustainable Forest Transitions project and is particularly interested in the use of large-scale public datasets and quantitative causal inference tools to understand synergies and tradeoffs between conservation and development outcomes.

  1. 15th December 2023 

Ecologies of care: Children’s experiences of growing up in the Indian context

Abstract: The talk  explores children’s experiences of growing up and their construals of care in two distinct ecologies in India. One  is a rural setting where children grow up in a village surrounded by fields and the other is a slum settlement in an urban city. These ecologies would often be termed as “marginalised” and  their lives related to a “culture of poverty”. The concerns with morality, of care and compassion, of exclusion and sufferings are then often discussed in a different state when we talk of precarious lives (Fassin, 2012). The paper calls for understanding children’s lives and related inquiries as embedded in their ecologies along with the precariousness, the potential and the possibilities. Using ethnographic descriptions of everyday living, it discusses how children participate in their cultures (with both human and non-human forms) and  develop a complex understanding of their ecologies. It explores how children navigate situations  (often entailing risk) together, giving voices to each other, building a collective narrative of life-stories and finding ways to build caring relationships along with other skills and tasks of growing up. The focus will be especially on children’s construction of care and how the ways of care along with its liberties and restrictions exist in close tandem with the ways of living in the ecology. The paper further discusses the role of  agency, care(ing) practices and seemingly ordinary everyday acts in building children’s imagination and commitment towards a future that is intertwined with belongingness to the ecology – both human and non-human.

Speaker: Shipra Suneja (Assistant professor at Azim Premji University , Bengaluru, India)


Bio: Shipra Suneja is Assistant professor at Azim Premji University , Bengaluru, India. She teaches courses in Child Development and Early Childhood Education(ECE) and engages in curriculum development and teacher training in ECE. In her doctoral work, she studied children’s experiences of their ecology and construction of caring relationships with special focus on sibling relationships.  Her research interests include care in early years education, development of critical inquiry perspectives in ECE and documenting children’s interactions in their ecology.