Environmental Education teaching practices and the methodological policy context

Posted in: 12/16/2021

Environmental Education (EA) in the context of Licensing is understood as a tool for environmental management and, therefore, is in the realm of non-formal education. It does not follow the curricular parameters set by the MEC, but acts in consonance with them for a good implementation of the Environmental Education pedagogical practices.

We can say that in Environmental Licensing there is a space of tension between public and private interests, which makes this instrument relevant in the National Environmental Policy, especially when it comes to participation and social control.

In methodological terms, different political-pedagogical macro-tendencies of contemporary Environmental Education can be identified. According to Layrargues (2011), in Brazil we can classify, in general lines, Environmental Education in three strands: conservative, pragmatic and critical. Even though it is known that, in reality, the strands do not have such rigid boundaries.

The conservative one is based on the appreciation of the affective dimension in relation to nature and on the change of individual behaviors in relation to the environment. Pragmatics stands for sustainable development and consumption, focusing on depleting natural resources and alluding to the fight against waste.

Finally, the third – the critical– seeks the political confrontation of environmental inequalities and injustices. Equally, this strand problematizes the contradictions of the current mode of production and its economic and political development, introducing into society the debate of citizenship, democracy, participation, human emancipation, and social transformation.

The latter is materialized through environmental protection laws, as, for example, in the case of the legislation of the State of Minas Gerais, which in the Normative Deliberation DN COPAM nr. 238/2020, in its Art. 2, defines Environmental Education as

a permanent teaching-learning process with a systemic approach, which recognizes the set of interrelations between natural, cultural, historical, social, economic, and political spheres, with the purpose of allowing the social groups involved in the enterprise to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes for empowerment and full exercise of citizenship”.(emphasis added)

One notices that, in the legal context, EA is presented as a process, that is, a means that aims at the social groups involved in the enterprises to fully exercise their citizenship.

The full exercise of citizenship is closely related to the awareness of rights and duties by the citizens, and is closely related to the struggles for them to be effectively fulfilled, and not just guaranteed by law. One of the main goals of a country’s education must be to prepare people for the full exercise of citizenship, whether in formal or non-formal education.

Pedagogical Practices of Environmental Education: workshop in PEA
Pedagogical Practices of Environmental Education: workshop in Programa de Educação Ambiental (Environmental Education Program) (PEA) Photo: Synergia

Consulting firms, such as Synergia, which operate in the environmental education market depending on the legal context that occurs in the context of environmental licensing, should keep in mind that the role that the environmental educator plays exalts its importance with social work, which can contribute to the management of conflicts of use and impacts caused by a project, aiming to ensure:

  • the participation and mobilization of affected groups in all licensing stages and in public decision-making bodies;
  • the appropriation of information pertinent to the enterprise by the public authority;
  • the production of knowledge that enables the responsible and qualified positioning of the social agents involved.

While informal education the collective teaching-learning spaces are almost “natural“, assuming that the interactions take place through direct contact between people in classrooms and auditoriums, in non-formal education it can happen in classrooms as well as in sheds, offices, workshops, and even under trees or over wood stoves.

More recently, the use of remote interaction technologies for performing activities has become indispensable. Thus, the use of participative tools, via the Internet, has made it possible not only to overcome the distance barrier, but also, in many cases, to facilitate some interactions that were sometimes costly. This has streamlined processes and reduced costs, without affecting the quality of the information. On the contrary, it has created more effective ways of generating records and controls, such as recordings of the events and interactive platforms, adaptable to the usual face-to-face pedagogical methodologies and practices. But these virtual learning spaces also bring with them limitations that need to be identified and overcome.

Mobilization and participation

In more general lines, it can be said that to achieve active participation during the pedagogical practices of Environmental Education, and an emancipatory education, it is necessary to know the reality of each territory and its communities in order to compose an action plan that speaks to the identified problems that allow implementation for that particular ecosystem, community, political situation, etc.

Therefore, a methodological approach to environmental education consolidation integrates a mobilization strategy with territorial recognition and continuous engagement and with the structuring of participatory diagnoses, action plans for program definition and execution and monitoring to ensure improvements in the promotion of environmental conservation and the ethical-political recognition of the subject.

Methodological approach and application tools

There are several application tools for composing this methodological approach, either face-to-face or remote. We highlight some that were used by Synergia’s team in their approaches in the communities they served. They are:

  • VIRTUAL SOCIAL MOBILIZATION: whatsapp invitations, GIFs, very short videos, interactive PDFs, among other resources;
  • VIDEO LESSONS: recording and editing of content and distribution facilitated and flexible to the viewer’s availability, providing an opportunity for knowledge enhancement within each person’s possible time frame. Here it is important that a deadline is agreed upon for the completion of the step-by-step of each activity;
  • VIRTUAL OR PRINTED TEACHING MATERIALS: The teaching materials (booklets, handouts, folders, newsletters, games) serve to bring together knowledge with easy, dynamic, and playful language, offering complete, interactive, and accessible content. This material aims to inform and train people, but can only be complementary to the learning provided by other pedagogical approaches. The format varies from virtual (PDF made available via email, messaging applications, or stored on some digital platform) to printed, in appropriate packaging that can be disinfected by the recipient.
Environmental Education and contemporary challenges - PEA
Pedagogical Practices for Environmental Education: materials produced for the PEA workshop Photo: Synergia
  • PODCASTS: Similar to the radio content format, the podcast is able to create on-demand content, that is, to prioritize a theme that can be dealt with by means of an interview, storytelling, or narration of facts. Podcasts were used by Synergia in its activities throughout 2020 in a complementary way to other activities, such as Lives and video classes, and disseminated via a link for quick online access by participants.
  • TALK ROOMS IN LIVES FORMAT: we have improved our capacity to produce Lives, with content creation based on the visual identity of our clients. Our experiences in the production and execution of Lives allow us to point out that they broaden the reach of the public and democratize the means of access to information by the Project participants.
  • ON-LINE GAMES: Through knowledge challenges and with participative methods and gamification, game/challenge actions were adapted for the online version and with propositions external to the online meeting, with the use of virtual platforms that do not require downloading and e-mail.
  • ON-LINE CONGRESSES OR PRESENTATIONS: To establish dynamism in virtual spaces in a format used for lectures or activities such as World Café or Open Space is the use of platforms that allow you to participate in several rooms simultaneously.
  • INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE ASSESSMENTS THROUGH VIRTUAL MEETINGS: Knowledge becomes perennial when approached by various methods of learning retention from audio, visual, practical, and expressive through oral or body language. In this way it is important to have content support through individual or collective consulting. The virtual meeting occurs live and can be followed by platforms available online and with interactions via chat. Another possible format is via the Messenger-Facebook video platform with no requirement for linked accounts or downloadable applications used in advisories with remote communities with little accessibility.
  • DIALOGED EXHIBITION: The Dialogued Expositions seek to provide the participants with information about the subject to be treated, in order to provide people with reflections and deepen their understanding of environmental aspects and their relations with other dimensions of society. This format of exposing a theme aims to relate it to people’s life experience, seeking a horizontal relationship between educator and student.
  • AUDIOVISUALS (FILMS, POWERPOINTS): Techniques that allow you to observe, indirectly, situations that occurred in different places and facts. The use of these media complements the developing content.
  • DIRECTED TALKING / DISCUSSION: Technique for guiding participants to autonomously carry out intellectual and cooperative work in search of solutions to problems presented.
  • DEBATES: Resource that aims to develop mental ability, strengthening the spirit of debate and self-confiidence of the subjects. It is also practiced with the purpose of developing the logical argumentation of participants by observing the opponent’s argumentation and formulating counter-arguments. It is a technique used in controversial topics that generate blocks of different positions.
  • THEMATIC CAMPAIGNS: Specific activities with programming aligned to the times and places indicated by the client. All products used in our campaigns follow a publishing standard, always respecting the client’s branding, which is then recognized by the participating public.
  • GAMES and PLAY: A technique that intends to promote learning in a playful way and to develop sociability and articulation with the various members of the group.
Pedagogical practices of Environmental Education : Workshop in PEA2
Pedagogical practices in Environmental Education: learning through games. Photo: Synergia
  • ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY: Provides the means to learn about the most significant parts of the environment in which we live or work; the study of the environment enables us to perceive our surroundings, providing conditions to reflect on our contribution where we are participants and not spectators.
  • GROUP DYNAMICS: Technique that stimulates personal interiorization, leading the participant to recognize his/her limitations and habits. This technique allows the dynamization of a group, placing it in a teamwork plan, or in the search for consensus, preventing it from closing in on itself, so that the participants can grow within the group, and the group can transform the environment, through the promotion of the people linked to it.
  • MININURSES AND TECHNICAL CAPACITIES: Activities and actions organized by the technical teams and ministered by specialists on the corresponding themes. Theoretical explanations, supported by supporting materials (reading and audiovisual) and practical experiences in the field.
  • INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE CONSULTING SERVICES: By means of personalized actions for each reality, the advisory services make it possible to attend to every difficulty in the elaboration of the Business Model and Business Plan; product pricing; leadership training; improvement of the business and the productive chain from the microscopic look of each entrepreneur’s or cooperative member’s reality.
  • EXPERIENTIAL CHALLENGES: challenges to develop community protagonism, social integration, and obtaining results for the community through experiential games or gamified challenges and knowledge multiplication.

From the perspective of environmental educators

We are aware of the difficulties and challenges that environmental educators face in the implementation of pedagogical practices of Environmental Education and Environmental Education Programs in licensing contexts, because at the same time that they are consultants they are also executors of the actions as representatives of the companies, which also respond to the conditions set by public agencies. This often prevents the emancipatory character of the educational process from being pursued.

But it is important to remember that Environmental Education in this context should not be exhausted in its administrative and technical dimensions, but should take into account the political and economic relations that situate the educators’ own technical choices. Therefore, even when in limited conditions, it is advisable not to distance ourselves from having an ethical position, agreeing on decisions with the companies.

Furthermore, we are aware that Environmental Education, alone, will not drive sustainable development, nor does it even have the ambition to end social inequality. However, the EA that we believe we practice within Synergia is intended to be an instrument of access to information and knowledge qualification, so that communities and companies understand their role in relation to the environment and understand how fundamental the processes that involve the preservation and restoration of nature are.


*Synergia has a Nucleus of Educators dedicated especially to the themes of Social and Environmental Education, always attentive to the development of new methods and approaches that bring knowledge and effective learning to our territories of operation. The Center’s staff prepared this article seeking to clarify for our readers the context and relevance of Environmental Education in contemporary society.


The article “The pedagogical practices of Environmental Education and the political and methodological context” is the last of a series of 3 texts produced by the Center.

Check out the two previously published articles: 

“Educação Ambiental e desafios contemporâneos (Environmental Education and contemporary challenges)”.

“Licenciamento, Educação Ambiental não formal e o papel das empresas (Licensing, non-formal Environmental Education and the role of companies)”

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