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The Going Green Directorate (GGD) is a 'think tank'. Its objective is to promote a conservation curriculum based on flexible IT templates to help the management and networking of neighbourhood community projects for living sustainably.

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The long-term aim is to collect and evolve practical IT toolkits and knowledge systems, which are suitable for customising. The idea is to establish a citizen’s life-long learning framework, based on the assembly of personal bodies of knowledge, and share ideas and achievements about local betterment.

The knowledge framework links culture with ecology in the context of Agenda 21, the strategic plan agreed by world leaders at Rio di Janiero in 1992. The proposition is that a sustainable future for humankind will only come through the environmental engagement and empowerment of people to secure an equilibrium with Earth's natural resources. In this sense, the two to three percent political target for annual monetary growth has already exceeded the planet's ecological productivity.



History

In 1986, the Duke of Edinburgh, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, directed the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES) to come up with a cross-curricular subject as a UK contribution to world development education. A team of advisers and teachers turned this idea into a GSCE school subject 'natural economy'. Natural economy was launched in 1991 as a part of the Cambridge University International GCSE examination system. The design was consciously interdisciplinary drawing on, for example, Biology, Economics, Geography and Anthropology and focusing on real-life situations, contexts and behaviours. The making of mind maps to encourage systems thinking about environmental issues was a key element of the original syllabus. The examination, now called 'environmental management’, attracts thousands of candidates mostly from ‘international schools’.

Natural economy was taken as a model for distance learning by the European Community’s Schools' Olympus Satellite Education Programme based at Llangefni on the Welsh Isle of Angelsey. An interoperable CD version of natural economy for computer-assisted learning was created in the Department of Zoology at Cardiff University with a grant from DG11 of the EC. This work was transferred to the Natural Economy Research Unit (NERU), which was set up in the National Museum of Wales in the late 1980s.

The Going Green Directorate was established as the outcome of a gathering of UK environmentalists at Buckingham Palace by academics and teachers in England and Wales who had been involved in creating natural economy. The GGD then went on to extend the educational framework as 'cultural ecology'. Cultural ecology is an idiosyncratic digital concept map that integrates natural economy and political economy, as two sides of the coin of universal human betterment, through exploring interactions between people and environment . The making of concept maps is a highly individual affair depending on one's starting point. Although cultural ecology is often claimed by the primary subject of anthropology, in truth, the fact that it exists as many concept maps indicates that it belongs to all subjects now that we have globalised the human ecological niche.

The GGD received its first sponsorship from the Countryside Council for Wales, Dyfed County Council, and the local Texaco oil refinery in 1993. This partnership was based in the St Clears Teacher's Resource Centre. From here, a successful award-winning educational pilot was led by Pembrokeshire schools to create and evaluate a system of school/community partnerships to promote the creation of biodiversity action plans. The scheme, under the name 'Neighbourhoods With Wildlife' networked the local achievments via an embryonic Internet from community to community via schools which served them. The practical objective was for students to address environmental issues which emerged from their appraisals in the context of the Local Authority Agenda 21. SCAN, the 'Schools in Communities Agenda 21 Network', is now a bilingual educational resource for Welsh schools based in the National Museum of Wales at Cardiff, where the emphasis is on using biological indicators to track climate change.

Access SCAN
In the 1990s Cultural Ecology was produced as an online cross-curricular knowledge system for living sustainably. This project was funded by the European Community in its LIFE Environment Programme in partnership with the UK Conservation Management System Consortium and the University of Ulster. Cultural ecology and its associated websites currently receives between one and two million new hits a year and hundreds of people register for its blog every week.

A conservation curriculum with digital templates and modules for distance learning that can be customised is now being developed in partnership with a range of individuals and organisations.


Societal background

Human history is the story of an increasing independence of nature achieved by discovery and invention. Human societies were at first completely at the mercy of local planetary, solar and biological systems, which gave opportunities to some, and terrible handicaps to others. But as groups took the opportunities to protect themselves against natural hazards, and manage natural features to produce benefits, local groups became more independent of nature. History began to reflect more and more the social organisation that developed as a consequence of being able to manage the local cultural inputs of human, as well as natural, resources.

From prehistoric times, 'resources and managers' has been a theme to focus families and communities on long-term environmental independence, and economic progress. Civilisations of the past have succumbed not only to the pressures of uncontrolled nature, but also to the results of their own uncontrolled actions upon it. Cultural ecology encapsulates the view that conservation management, embedded within an historical pathway of cultural heritage is an essential system of planning that maintains resources (such as built heritage, greenspaces, services and family consumption) tthrough conservation management of ecosystem services sustain the life of a community from generation to generation.

Whether one is trying to organise an aboriginal hunting system, a nature reserve, or a steel works, human skills, materials, and energy (the resources), have to be organised in the following management cycle.

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This managerial logic is obviously essential for producing objects like a motor car that meet an individual's needs or wants, but is also valid for protecting a rare species, clearing litter, manufacturing smokeless fuel, running a crime prevention scheme accountable to its community, and creating and maintaining a library of local history. The management objectives incorporate objectives based on needs and notions of the community about its valued features. These objectives are expressed in long term plans to enrich the natural world, prevent pollution, minimise risks to life and property, and counter social placelessness. In other words, action should follow appraisal!.

Finally, the cycle is closed by monitoring the outcomes of action!!.