Deliberate and emergent approaches to practice development: Lessons learned from the australian environment movement

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Professional and Practice-based Learning, 2016, 17 pp. 59 - 73
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Flowers Deliberate and emergent approaches submitted April 2015.docAccepted Manuscript version96.5 kB
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© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. In this chapter, I critique the practice of environmental activists or, as I name them, ‘champions for sustainability’. They undertake practice to bring about change in values, behaviours and policies in the household, community and public policy domain. Champions for sustainability pursue those elements of professionalism that are concerned with improving society and upholding standards of high quality, etc. And, given the massive scale of environmental movements across the world, there should be more scholarly attention paid to their practice development, albeit unpaid work. With this chapter, I argue that there is too much reliance in the Australian environment movement on ad hoc approaches to the development of social change practices and make a case to be more deliberate and emergent. It may seem a common-sense truism to say that champions for sustainability should be more deliberate in attending to their social change practices, but I describe and discuss how it does not happen much and why. Remarkably few resources are invested by environmental advocacy organisations in practice development, let alone in initiatives to be more deliberate. To build on Trede and McEwen’s conceptualisation of deliberate practice, I draw on Mintzberg and Waters’ theorising about deliberate and emergent strategies for organisational change. I then describe and discuss two broad structural strategies to foster more deliberate practices. The first is to create conditions for a new and more deliberate culture of learning in the environment movement. The second is to foster more trans-disciplinary approaches to theorising about social change.
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