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Greening the knowledge economy: ecosophy, ecology and economy.

1. Introduction

In this paper I discuss methodology in environmental educational research by employing an approach from green philosophy (ecosophy) and green political economy to examine some wider conceptual issues concerning learning processes within the 'knowledge economy'. (1) This constitutes 'wide-canvas research' with a visionary element that is designed to demonstrate the importance of philosophical research in relation to broad conceptual questions that attempt to look for the connections and integrations among ecosophy, ecology and economy in an approach that highlights education and learning as the central human activities that can enhance sustainability in its ecological, economic and educational forms. It is also an example of linked-up policy analysis (cf. linked-up government) based upon the understanding and integration of large systems. What this age demands more than ever is an understanding not simply of systems in natural, social and geo-political environments and their interrelations but also the logic of large-scale system-events and their impacts for humanity. In the economic and political realm as social scientists we need to know more about the logic of large-scale events governing system failures such as the collapse of the Soviet system in 1989 and the collapse of neoliberal global financial system in 2009. The social sciences have not been good at predicting or analyzing these kinds of events which demand a better interface between social and natural sciences and their mediation and understanding through new mathematical and computational theories of complex systems, of complexity and chaos, and of the difficulties with formal mathematical modeling and simulation. (2)

The approach in this paper is an example of doing environmental education research with complex issues of conceptualization, contextualization, representation and legitimization. The approach is a combination of different methodologies and perspectives drawing on both philosophical scholarship and argument, and the tradition of radical political economy, applied to the contemporary policy problems of the knowledge economy and the role of education and learning within it. The paper attempts to demonstrate the need for understanding the importance of philosophical argumentation to strategic research interests in environmental education and to building a case for understanding the concept of environment as a suitable perspective in order to trace the complex ecologies comprising knowledge societies and economies. The argument is made that the most sustainable and 'productive' interface in advanced postindustrial societies in the twenty-first will be that between the knowledge and the 'green economy'--what I refer to as the 'greening of the knowledge economy'. This paper also demonstrates the need for an eclectic, synthesizing, synoptic, vision-based and radically multidisciplinary approach that draws upon a range of methodologies such as network analysis and systems thinking especially in relation to distributed cognition, media, knowledge, pedagogy and energy systems.

President Barack Obama in his address on the U.S. economy at Georgetown University (Tuesday 14 April, 2009) laid out five pillars of the new foundations for recovering the American dream: new rules for Wall Street and greater regulation of finance capitalism with less emphasis of manipulation of numbers and more emphasis on making; investment in education at all levels and the preparation of students for the 21st century; the promotion and investment in clean-green energy technologies designed to utilize renewable resources and promote energy efficiencies while reducing the dependency on Middle-East oil; reforming the health care system (Medicare, Medicaid), reducing inflated costs and providing a system of universal provision; reducing the deficit and creating a sustainable economic future for America. For Obama's administration these five pillars are the basis of long-term economic sustainability signaling a deliberate move away from the speculative bubble of an unregulated neoliberal finance capitalism that led to the worst global recession since the end of WWII and historic number of foreclosures and job losses.

The so-called 'financialization of capitalism' led to the rise of speculative finance culture that benefited hedge fund and Wall Street financiers at the expense of the rest of the population causing credit and finance imbalances and system crises. The spectacular growth of finance capital based itself upon the selling of financial derivatives, credit-default swaps and securitized risk products. Managed hedge funds that were packaged and sold on resulted in overvalued assets and a labyrinthine maze where it was no longer possible to fathom who owned the risk any longer. This new speculative finance culture collapsed distinctions between commercial and investment banking (beginning with the rescinding of the 1933 Glass-Speigel Act in 1994) and gave way to excessive profits, massive fraud and a crisis of markets and financial institutions. It also imperiled the architecture and ecology of the whole global economy leading George Soros to call it the 'era of the destruction of capital'. Some thirty trillion was wiped off equity assets; a further thirty trillion was wiped off the books through lost production, the subprime mortgage market and bail-out attempts to ring-fence other toxic assets. Together the financial crisis and global climate-change and broader ecological challenges demand a new model of how America and the world pursues economic prosperity with a greater emphasis on long-term sustainability, state-centric policies and greater regulation aimed at reinvestment in public infrastructure as well as education, health and renewal energy forms.

The neoliberal era had encouraged a form of socioeconomic evolution of wage-laboring 'man' of industrial capitalism into global postindustrial 'smart investor' with a balanced portfolio. The Obama ecological era promises to place the emphasis once again on an economic identity based of 'making' rather than 'speculating', on diligence, hard work and community rebuilding rather than becoming a landlord with a portfolio of investment properties, able to retire early and live off investment returns. For Middle America and for the UK middle class--so-called Anglo-American model of capitalism the dream of easy returns from smart investment and continuous monitoring of stock markets has evaporated. By contrast the Obama era emphasizes an age of renewed collective responsibility based on ecological, market and social sustainability. The efficient market thesis has been replaced by an acknowledgement of market failure essential to both ecological economics and to the 'sign', symbolic or knowledge economy.

The paper is structured into the three sections. First, it charts three forms of the knowledge economy--the 'creative', 'learning' 'open science' economy --each of which profiles education as a central activity and 'learning processes' as the source of intellectual energy driving the new educational environment and shaping emergent knowledge ecologies. Second, it briefly discusses the significance of network analysis as a broad methodology that provides the basis in terms of policy for yoking large systems together--ecosophy, ecology and economics and social, ecological, and economic sustainability. Third, the paper outlines the concept of 'greening the knowledge economy' as a basis for long-term sustainability.

2. Three Forms of the Knowledge Economy: Creativity, Learning and Open Science

It is important to distinguish a number of different strands and readings of the knowledge economy and important to do so because it provides a history of a policy idea and charts its ideological interpretations. (3) As will become obvious below the different strands of this discourse are radically diverse and include attempts to theorize not only 'knowledge economy' but also the parallel term 'knowledge society', and also attempts to relate these terms to wider and broader changes in the nature of capitalism, modernity and the global economy. Early attempts by Friedrich von Hayek (1937, 1945) to define the relations between economics and knowledge were followed by the economic value of knowledge studies of the production and distribution of knowledge in the U.S. by Fritz Machlup (1962). Both of these scholars were associated with the Austrian school of economics. Gary Becker (1964), a prominent member of the Chicago school, analyzed human capital with reference to education while Peter Drucker (1969), the management theorist, developed an emphasis on 'knowledge workers' coining the term in 1959 and founding the field of 'knowledge management'. Daniel Bell's (1973) sociology of postindustrialism emphasized the centrality of theoretical knowledge and the new science-based industries and Alain Touraine's (1971) The Post-industrial Society hypothesized students as a new social movement and predicted the 'programmed society'. Mark Granovetter (1973) theorized of the role of information in the market based on weak ties and social networks. Marc Porat (1977) defined 'the information society' in a series of publications for the US government and Alvin Toffler (1980), the futurist, talked of knowledge-based production in the 'Third Wave economy'. The French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard (1984) defined The Postmodern Condition as an age marked by the contingency, complexity, dispersal and distribution of knowledge and the Marxist geographer David Harvey (1989) analyzed large-scale shifts from Fordist to flexible accumulation. James Coleman (1988) analyzed how social capital creates human capital and Pierre Bourdieu (1986) and Robert Putnam (2000) further developed the notion providing distinctive notions of cultural and social capital. The Stanford economist Paul Romer (1990) argued that growth is driven by technological change arising from intentional investment decisions where technology as an input is a nonrival, partially excludable good and the OECD's (1996), basing its work on Romer and endogenous growth theory, provided an influential model of the 'knowledge-based economy'. Meanwhile, Joseph Stiglitz (1999) ex-chief economist developed the World Bank's Knowledge for Development and Education for the Knowledge Economy programs based on the notion that knowledge is a global public good. In the wake of these reports employers called for new workforce skillsets (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2008) and public policy applications and developments of the 'knowledge economy' concept began to appear in authoritative forms at the end of the decade (Hearn & Rooney, 2008).

What this brief history reveals is the different stages in the evolution of a discourse with parallel streams, often contradictory or opposing, with different ideological sources and different visions of economy and society. We can no longer simply hold that 'knowledge economy' or 'knowledge society' are simply neoliberal notions. They are complex and openly contested policy narratives based on metaphors that have emerged to described the trajectory of the rich liberal capitalist states and now function as generalized policy framework that permit local applications and forms of indigenization, depending on location, geopolitics, state actors, and a range of other variable factors.

The knowledge economy is also a concept undergoing rapid conceptual development. In the following three sections I have detailed three forms of the knowledge economy: the 'learning economy'; the 'creative economy'; and, the 'open science economy'. Each of these has a special relationship to education and pedagogy and highlights the significance of learning processes within these larger conceptual policy frameworks. What this analysis demonstrates is the increasing dynamic differentiation of the concept and progressive new developments that distinguishes elements of the general concept.

2.1 The Learning Economy

The concept of the learning economy was coined and has been championed by Bengt-Ake Lundvall, a Swedish economist from Aalborg University, who uses the term to talk about a new context for European innovation policy. (4) Lundvall (1994, 2000, 2002) first used the concept in the mid 1990s in a series of working papers to discuss technological change, innovation and institutional learning directly applying it to the learning society and economy, to universities, and to education more generally in the 2000s, culminating in How Europe's Economies Learn (Lorenz & Lundvall, 2006) that focuses on diversity in European competence building systems, organization, labor markets and corporate governance and the links between education and scienceindustry. The concept and theory of the learning economy is a refinement of the knowledge economy based on the way a set of interlocking forces (ecologies) in information/knowledge intensities, distributed new social media, and greater computer networking and connectivity have contributed to the heightened significance of human capital formations, mode of social production and an emphasis on learning processes. Lundvall (1996) argues, for instance, that the growing frequency of so-called paradoxes in economic theory and of unsolved socioeconomic problems reflects that neither economic theory nor policy has been adapted to the fact that we have entered a new phase: the "Learning Economy."

In the learning economy it is the capacity to learn that increasingly determines the relative position of individuals, firms and national systems and Lundvall claims that the growing polarization in the OECD-labor markets is explained by the increasing importance of learning and the acceleration in the rate of change. Sustainability of these learning economies tendencies ultimately depends on the distribution of capabilities to learn. The OECD highlights the importance of skills and learning focusing on life-long learning becoming the central element in a high-skills, high-wage jobs strategy. Lundvall distinguishes between information and knowledge; the former is logical, sequential and easily broken down into bits and transmitted by computer whereas the latter is associated with learning that is often a form of know-how and competencies based on tacit knowledge. An information or knowledge economy is quite different from a learning economy that is not tied to formal knowledge institutions and goes beyond formal propositional forms of knowing to the arena of routinised learning based on learning-by-doing or learning-by-using. Such a definition allows us to consider the types of learning associated with the process of working that emphasizes tacit, practical and embodied knowledge generated during the work process. One might also argue in a broader sense that the learning economy focuses on learning processes that are responsible for the production of knowledge.

Lundvall et al (2008) argue that innovation is crucial to economic competitiveness and learning is crucial to innovation. They argue that knowledge is becoming obsolete more rapidly than before and that therefore firms and employees constantly have to learn and acquire new competencies, mostly learnt through experience. Lundvall and his colleagues argue that traditional schooling, isolated from society and organised according to traditional disciplines and educational cultures focusing on collaboration, interdisciplinarity and engagement with real-life problems are required to produce flexible workers who can successfully participate in the new economy.

2.1.1 A Note on Personal and Tacit Knowledge

The concept of the learning economy requires further examination especially in term of its predecessor theoretical element in the work of Polanyi on personal and tacit knowledge and as it contributes to a theory of educational practice. Michael Polyani's magnum opus is the book he published in 1962 entitled Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy based on some thirteen papers he published during the period 1952-58 in journals like The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Encounter, Science, The Lancet, Dialectica, and The Cambridge Journal. The papers indicate something of the extraordinary range of thought, the diversity of thinking, and the target of his work: 'Skill and connoisseurship'; 'Passion and controversy in science'; 'Pure and applied science and their appropriate forms of organization'; 'The magic of Marxism'; 'On the introduction of science into moral subjects'; 'Stability of beliefs'; 'Scientific outlook: its sickness and cure'; 'Words, conception and science'; 'Beauty, elegance and reality in science'; 'Problem solving.'

Polyani's target was the delusion of complete objectivity as an ideal for the exact sciences and also the positivism, or more correctly, logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle, and Popper's falsificationism. This is in part the reason that Polyani subtitles his book 'a post-critical philosophy' because it was designed to take its readers beyond Popper's critical rationalism to the realm of personal knowledge which Polyani saw as a suitable substitute and ideal for science. Polyani tried to demonstrate the inherent personal dimension, both bias and judgment, in every action of the scientist through the structure of skill that is achieved by the observance of a set of rules not known by the person following them. He draws on Gestalt psychology to articulate a conception of subsidiary awareness and focal awareness and its connection with frameworks and tools. Personal knowledge thus has 'its roots in the subsidiary awareness of our body as merged in our focal awareness of external objects' which 'reveals not only the logical structure of personal knowledge but also its sources' (p. 60). Personal commitment is also implied by the fact that we make some things central to our focal awareness. The roots of personal knowledge that lie behind the exact sciences depend upon a commitment and responsibility which we cannot divest ourselves of even by setting up standards of objectivity or falsifiability. Polyani's analysis of skillful doing and knowing is the essence of a performance that relies of intellectual commitment that saves us from mere subjectivity.

Polyani admits 'the tacit component' as an indispensible element of learning that he constructs into three types--trick learning, sign-learning and latent learning--following Hilgard's (1956) Theories of Learning, Mowrer's (1950) Learning Theory and Personality Dynamics, and Tolman's (1932) Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men (see original work for references). Latent or tacit learning is the 'capacity for deriving from a latent knowledge of a situation a variety of appropriate routes or appropriate behavior amounts to a rudimentary logical operation' (p. 74). In short, it functions as a guide to problem-solving. This is a position that Polyani tracks out by reference to Piaget's work on the principles of psychology and his studies of the cognitive developmental stages of children's thinking. The three types of learning correspond to an act of invention (trick learning), an act of observation (sign-learning) and an act of interpretation (latent learning) which are the active coefficients of articulation that Polyani spells out in the following form:

1. Nearly all knowledge by which man surpasses animals is acquired by the use of language.

2. The operations of language rely ultimately on our tacit intellectual powers which are continuous with those of the animals.

3. These inarticulate acts of intelligence strife to satisfy self-set standards and reach conclusions by accrediting their own success (p. 95).

The educated mind learns mostly through verbal media especially listening and speaking which is a latent kind of knowing. Polyani develops an approximation that traces the participation of the scientist to its personal coefficient in the origins of spoken utterance and the very active principles of animal life. Polyani outlines a theory of 'intellectual passions' which can only survive in a society where the values affirmed by those passions, such as the love of truth, are respected and become part of the cultural life shared by a community. Here Polyani's thesis comes very close to Thomas Kuhn's (1962) position in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in articulating the conviviality required for the fellowship, trust and collaboration necessary for the cultivation of thought.

2.2 The Creative Economy (5)

The conception of the creative economy emphasizes the creative industries and institutions as an interlocking sector producing cultural goods and services as a rapidly growing and key component of the new global knowledge economy. It refers to those broadly defined design industries and institutions that draw on the individual and increasingly collective resources of creativity, skill and talent that have strong potential for the generation of wealth and job creation through the development and exploitation of intellectual property. Both the idea and policies associated with it originate in the late 1990s and early 2000s in the work of Landry (2000), Howkins (2001) and Florida (2002). Increasingly, the notion has been applied to education at all levels both in terms of the development of creative minds, the creative curriculum and universities as creative institutions. This section provides a broad conceptual understanding of the creative economy and its relation to education.

Today there is a strong renewal of interest by politicians and policymakers world-wide in the related notions of creativity and innovation, especially in relation to terms like 'the creative economy', 'knowledge economy', 'enterprise society', 'entrepreneurship' and 'national systems of innovation' (Baumol, 2002; Cowen, 2002; Scott and Urry, 1994). In its rawest form the notion of the creative economy emerges from a set of claims that suggests that the Industrial Economy is giving way to the Creative Economy based on the growing power of ideas and virtual value--the turn from steel and hamburgers to software and intellectual property. In this context increasingly policy latches onto the issues of copyright as an aspect of IP, piracy, distribution systems, network literacy, public service content, the creative industries, new interoperability standards, the WIPO and the development agenda, WTO and trade, and means to bring creativity and commerce together (Cowen, 2002; Shapiro and Varian, 1998; Davenport and Beck, 2001; Hughes, 1998; Netanel, 1996, 1998; Gordon, 1993; Lemley, 2005; Wagner, 2003).

At the same time this focus on creativity has exercised strong appeal to policy-makers who wish to link education more firmly to new forms of capitalism emphasizing how creativity must be taught, how educational theory and research can be used to improve student learning in mathematics, reading and science, and how different models of intelligence and creativity can inform educational practice (Blythe, 2000). Under the spell of the creative economy discourse there has been a flourishing of new accelerated learning methodologies together with a focus on giftedness the design of learning programs for exceptional children. (6) One strand of the emerging literature highlights the role of the creative and expressive arts, of performance, of aesthetics in general, and the significant role of design as an underlying infrastructure for the creative economy (Caves, 2000; Frey and Pommerehne, 1989; Ginsburgh and Menger, 1996; Heilbrun and Gray, 2001; Hesmondhalgh, 2002).

There is now widespread agreement among economists, sociologists and policy analysts that creativity, design and innovation are at the heart of the global knowledge economy: together creativity, design and innovation define knowledge capitalism and its ability to continuously reinvent itself. (7) Together and in conjunction with new communications technologies they give expression to the essence of digital capitalism--the 'economy of ideas'--and to new architectures of mass collaboration that distinguish it as a new generic form of economy different in nature from industrial capitalism. The fact is that knowledge in its immaterial digitized informational form as sequences and value chains of 1s and 0s--ideas, concepts, functions, and abstractions approaches the status of pure thought. Unlike other commodities it operates expansively to defy the law of scarcity that is fundamental to classical and neoclassical economics and to the traditional understanding of markets. A generation of economists have expressed this truth by emphasizing that knowledge is (almost) a global public good; it is non-rivalrous and barely excludable (Stiglitz, 1999; Verschraegen, and Schiltz, 2007). It is non-rivalrous in the sense that there is little or marginal cost to adding new users. In other words, knowledge and information, especially in digital form, cannot be consumed. The use of knowledge or information as digital goods can be distributed and shared at no extra cost and the distribution and sharing is likely to add to its value rather than to deplete it or use it up. This is the essence of the economics of file-sharing education; it is also the essence of new forms of distributed creativity, intelligence and innovation in an age of mass participation and collaboration (Brown and Duguid, 2000; Tapscott and Williams, 2006; Surowiecki, 2004).

2.3 The Open Science Economy

Yochai Benkler (2006), the Harvard law professor, theorizes fundamental changes in his book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Benkler develops a vision of the good society based on access and distribution of information goods in a networked global information economy that places a high value on individual autonomy where within the public information space of the Internet and the information commons people have the individual means to pursue their own interests. (8) He indicates that a set of related changes in the information technologies entailing new social practices of production has fundamentally changed how we make and exchange information, knowledge, and culture, and he envisages these newly emerging social practices as constituting a new information environment that gives individuals the freedom to take a more active role in the construction of public information and culture. The emergence of the global networked information economy made possible by increasingly cheaper processors linked as a pervasive network has created an information economy based on the production of information and culture that enables social and nonmarket or peer-to peer production and exchange to play a, perhaps even, the central role.

Benkler's arguments chime with a number of others who have been working in the same area of the intellectual commons as a newly defined public space or laid the groundwork for doing so: Richard Stallman, John Perry Barlow, Larry Lessig, James Doyle and Pamela Stephenson. Stallman's (2002) collected essays in Free Software, Free Society originally written a couple of decades ago provides a discussion of the philosophy underlying the free software movement, including the GNU project and manifesto, the difference between 'free' and 'open' software, the concept of copyleft and the GNU General Public License. As Larry Lessig (2002: 10) writes: 'Every generation has its philosopher ... who captures the imagination of a time'. The philosopher who best captures our time, Lessig asserts, is Richard Stallman, who began as a computer programmer designing operating systems and came to define the freedom of code as the central pressing issue confronting a computer society. Free software is Stallman's answer to the question of control--'free' as in 'free speech', that is, free from control, transparent, and open to further development, change and innovation. Such freedom, then, is the basis of 'free laws', an economy of free code and the 'free society'. The principles demand openness and transparency that form the basis for control of code, for laws that guarantee this freedom and for government itself. Stallman argues that copyright is not defined as a natural right in the U.S. Constitution and he seeks to reduce it, arguing also for the distribution of scientific publishing in non-proprietary formats.

The fact is that the accumulated canon of patent and copyright law applies well to things but faces insuperable difficulties when applied to nonmaterial goods. Information increasingly separates itself from the material plane to exist merely in the ideational form as pure ideas. Digital technologies tend to eliminate the distinction between the idea and its expression in some physical form also erasing the legal jurisdictions of the physical world.

Lessig (2004), building on earlier work (e.g., Lessig, 2001) argues that for an underlying conception of freedom and its protection as the basis for 'free culture', at the same time warning of the dangers of 'big media' in colonizing public media space. He emphasizes the way the Internet makes possible the efficient spread of content through peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing in a way that does not respect traditional copyright and he warns us of the dangers to the kind of creativity that is the basis of cultural innovation. In The Future of Ideas (Lessig, 2002) describes how the Internet counterculture has encouraged an explosion of innovation and creativity and the legal architecture protecting it as a public space is now under threat.

In the same context we can also talk of James Boyle and Pamela Stephenson. Boyle is a law professor at Duke University and the co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain (9) established in 2002 with the mission to promote research and scholarship on the contributions of the public domain to speech, culture, science and innovation, to promote debate about the balance needed in our intellectual property system and to translate academic research into public policy solutions. Boyle (1997) argues that that we need a political economy of 'intellectual property'. Likening the Net to an environment and drawing on the politics of environmentalism he suggests 'our intellectual property discourse has structural tendencies towards over-protection, rather than under protection'. He claims that the 'public domain' is disappearing in an IP system built around the interests of the current stakeholders and the notion of the original author, around an over-deterministic practice of economic analysis and around a 'free speech' community that is under-sensitized to the dangers of private censorship.

He argues that a pay-as-you-read architecture will be inefficient and that such a system will 'Lead to extraordinary monopoly and concentration in the software industry, as copyright and patent trump antitrust policy' and possibly legitimize the extension of 'intellectual property rights even further over living organisms, including the human genome, transgenic species and the like' as well as privatizing 'words, or aspects of images or texts that are currently in the public domain, to the detriment of public debate, education, equal access to information ...' (Boyle, 1997: n.p.).

Boyle is one of a number of scholars working in this area including Michael Carroll, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, and Larry Lessig, along with the filmmakers, Eric Saltzman and Davis Guggenheim, the computer science expert Hal Abelson, and CEOs like Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Laurie Racine (founder of dotSUB), Joi Ito (founder of Neotony) and John Buckman (founder of (and all members of Creative Commons (10)). Pamela Samuelson is another working on intellectual property and the public space. Stephenson (1996) in Wired's 'The Copyright Grab' (11) warned that President Clinton's white paper on intellectual property was a sellout of the public and a reward of supporters in the copyright industry.

'Henry' in the Crooked Timber seminar (12) on Benkler's The Wealth of Networks indicates how this recent literature maps onto 'to a broader tradition of thought; that of people like Jane Jacobs, James Scott, Richard Sennett and Iris Marion Young.' He acknowledges that the Internet enables us to engage with each other in new creative ways and 'to form networks of collaboration and of conversation, creating possibility conditions for the kinds of diversity and critical thinking that democratic theorists prize'. The essential point emphasized here, especially for the Left, is that these newly enabled forms of 'community' or 'conversation' are non-constraining and occur without central planning or the heavy-handed agency of the State. Henry suggests that three key norms--linking, attribution and authenticity--structure the blogosphere creating an economy built on 'gift exchange' and contemplates how even self-regulatory solutions tend to rigidify over time reducing spontaneity and introducing more formal rules and hierarchies.

To summarize: Information is the vital element in a 'new' politics and economy that links space, knowledge and capital in networked practices. Freedom is an essential ingredient in this equation if these network practices develop or transform themselves into knowledge cultures. The specific politics and eco-cybernetic rationalities that accompany an informational global capitalism comprised of new multinational edutainment agglomerations are clearly capable of colonizing the emergent ecology of info-social networks and preventing the development of knowledge cultures based on non-proprietary modes of knowledge production and exchange.

Complexity as an approach to knowledge and knowledge systems now recognizes both the development of global systems architectures in (tele)communications and information with the development of open knowledge production systems that increasingly rest not only on the establishment of new and better platforms (sometimes called Web 2.0), the semantic web, new search algorithms and processes of digitization. Social processes and policies that foster openness as an overriding value as evidenced in the growth of open source, open access and open education and their convergences that characterize global knowledge communities that transcend borders of the nation-state. Openness seems also to suggest political transparency and the norms of open inquiry, indeed, even democracy itself as both the basis of the logic of inquiry and the dissemination of its results (Peters and Britez, 2009; Peters and Roberts, 2011). This is increasingly evident in forms of open science economy based on large-scale, international science portal systems that themselves are aimed at addressing large-scale natural systems attrition, rapid industrial depletion of natural ecosystems and environmental collapse and debasement.

2.3.1 A Note on Open Education

Open education develops around a successive series of utopian historical moments based on a set of similar ideas stemming from core Enlightenment concepts of freedom, equality, democracy and creativity. (13) The early history of open education consists political and psychological experiments conducted in special schools established in the early twentieth century (Neil, 1960; Rogers, 1969; Illich, 1972). The movement from the very beginning thus was shaped by contemporary political and psychological theory that attempted to provide alternatives to the mainstream, connected to and exemplified a form of society and set of institutions that was seen as politically desirable. These early ideas also significantly involved an analysis of the space and architecture of schools and the associated idea of freedom of movement underwent considerable refinement and development over the course of the twentieth century.

An important aspect concerned not only the analysis of architecture but the overcoming of distance in a form of distance education that began in the late nineteenth century through correspondence and progressed through various media eras including that of radio and television. Open education consisted of several strands and movements that often coalesced and overlapped to create a complex skein that despite the complexity was able to rapidly avail itself of new communication and information technologies in the last decade of the twentieth century and to identify itself more broadly with the new convergences among open source, open access, and open courseware movements. It was as though the open education movement in its infancy required the technological infrastructure to emerge as a major new paradigm rather than a set of small-scale and experimental alternatives or a form of distance education.

The model of technology-based distance education really received its impetus in the 1960s when the Open University in the UK was established founded on the idea that communications technology could extend advanced degree learning to those people who for a variety of reasons could not easily attend campus universities. It has been immensely influential as a model for other countries and distance education flourished in the 1970s and picked up new open education dimensions with the introduction of local area network environments. (14)

Open courseware (OCW) is very much a feature of the twenty-first century. MIT, one of the first universities to introduce OCW, announced its intention in the New York Times in 2001, formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium in 2005, and by 2007 published virtually all its courses online. (15) MIT is only one example of the OpenCourseWare movement, an important player, but nevertheless, only one institution amongst many. (16) Most recently The Cape Town Open Education Declaration mentions the variety of openly licensed course materials, including lessons, games, software and other teaching and learning materials that contribute to making education more accessible and help shape and give effect to a 'participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation' necessary for knowledge societies. It goes on to provide a statement based on a three-pronged strategy designed to support 'open educational technology, open sharing of teaching practices and other approaches that promote the broader cause of open education.' (17)

The open education movement and paradigm has arrived: it emerges from a complex historical background and its futures are intimately tied not only to open source, open access and open publishing movements but also to the concept of the open society itself (Peters and Britez, 2008; Iiyoshi and Kumar, 2008).

3. The Logic of Networks

Network logic is increasingly the basis of economic transactions and social life. (18) The fact is that neoclassical economics does not understand this new logic. Network logic embodies a set of rules for the ordering, distribution and dissemination of knowledge and information and help to structure new forms of organization, decision-making, coordination and collective action. In communication networks the dynamic of information is one of openness and with the right kinds of transparency it would be possible to rebuild trust in public institutions. New communication networks also permit increased capacity for increased coordination such as that evidenced in the 'open access' and 'creative commons' movements, which also links with innovation considered as a networked endeavor. There are important implications here for regulation, accountability and ownership, and dwell on 'network citizens' who will be able 'to participate in the creation of new decision-making capabilities as well as understanding their informal power and responsibilities' (McCarthy et al, 2002). Power structures the contours of networks determining the entry points and conditions that define structural advantage (Castells, 2002).

The network perspective entails viewing natural and social systems as networks--molecules as networks of atoms, brains as neural networks, organisms as networks of cells, organizations as networks of jobs, economics as networks of organizations, and ecologies as networks of organisms. Thus, it is not just the composition of elements of the system but rather how they are configured and what kind of relations exist. Network analysis is, therefore, non-reductionistic and holistic with an emergent-properties orientation. In this perspective the structure of the system largely determines the outcomes or performance of the system and the individual position in the system determines both the opportunities and constraints encountered. Against the mainstream then the network perspective is non-atomistic and non-independent, where individual are studied as they are embedded in the web of social relations and have direct influence on one another. (19)

In this context it is important to note that the concept of information considered in terms of today's scholarship in biology still is open to interpretation and checking even though its role is central. This is also a technical issue that requires careful scrutiny. JoAo Queiroz, Claus Emmeche and Charbel Nino El-Hani (2005) adopting a semiotic approach reassesses and reconsiders the role of information in living systems, stating:

'Information' is a concept which is very important but problematic in biology (see Oyama 2000, Stuart 1985, Sarkar 1996, Griffiths 2001, Jablonka 2002). The concept of information in biology has been recently a topic of substantial discussion (See, e.g., Maynard Smith 2000, Godfrey-Smith 2000, Sarkar 2000, Sterelny 2000, Wynnie 2000, Jablonka 2002, Adami 2004). Furthermore, the evolution of new kinds of information and information interpretation systems in living beings has received a great deal of attention recently (See, e.g., Jablonka 1994; Jablonka and Szathmary 1995; Maynard Smith and Szathmary 1995, 1999; Jablonka, Lamb and Avital 1998). It is even the case that the evolution of different ways of storing, transmitting, and interpreting 'information' can be treated as a major theme in the history of life (Maynard Smith and Szathmary 1995, 1999; Jablonka 2002). (20)

The network approach lends itself to interesting applications in political economy. For example, Mark Granovetter (1985) argues that the concept of homo economicus in economics is extremely undersocialized because it ignores the importance of personal contacts and social networks, that is, the embeddedness of economic transactions in social relations. By doing so, economics ignores the incentives to mutual cooperation and its individualism based on rational choice theory is unable to provide an analysis of flows of information between actors which are used to make decisions of mutual gain and are endogenous to the social network. He argues that 'the behavior and institutions to be analyzed are so constrained by ongoing relationships that to construe them as independent is a grievous misunderstanding' (p. 481). He goes on to argue 'Despite the apparent contrast between under- and oversocialized views, we should note an irony of great theoretical importance: both have in common a conception of action and decision carried out by atomized actors. In the undersocialized account, atomization results from narrow pursuit of self-interest; in the oversocialized one, from the fact that behavioral patterns have an internalized and ongoing social relations thus have only peripheral effects on behavior" (p. 485).

The assumption of fully rational agents pursuing their own self-interest must be embedded in the social networks in which they are involved and make decisions. Granovetter's views reinforce what has now become widely known that many beneficial economic transactions are constituted by informal means involving trust, reputation, cooperation, and obligation (see also Granovetter 1973; 1983). Social scientists like Coleman (1988) and Putman (1993; 2000) have argued that social interactions and network closure--dense connections between network participants--are key determinants in fostering trust and cooperative relationships.

The concept of the network was developed in the 1920s to describe communities of organisms linked through food webs and its use became extended to all systems levels: cells as networks of molecules; organisms as networks of cells; ecosystems as networks of individual organisms (Capra, 1996; Barabasi, 2002). The network pattern is one of the very basic patterns of organization of all living systems whose key characteristics is self-generation --the continual production, reproduction, repair and regeneration of the network. This is where an ecological economics must be properly based. The notion of networks also has recently been used to describe society and to analyze a new social structure based on networking as a new form of organization (Castells, 1996; 2002). On the strong view social networks are self-generating networks of communication that unlike biological networks operate in the non-material realm of meaning rather than matter yet like biological networks they form multiple feedback loops, which become self-generating, producing a shared or common context of meaning that we call culture. It is through this networked culture that individuals acquire their identities as members of the social network (Capra, 2002; 2004; Bateson, 1973). Castells argues that the proper identification of our society is in terms of its specific networked social structure, which provides the structural basis for globalization, the form of new organization (including political institutions), and the reconstruction of civil society.

The new science of networks offers strong methodological and epistemological promise across the social sciences with an apparently easy applications to economics and education with a focus on learning and knowledge networks, especially where these connect with issues of 'innovation' and come into play within a 'knowledge economy'. Network science also has gathered a new fillip with the application of statistical modeling and developments in discrete mathematics to 'small-world' analysis of complex systems--a form of analysis that is described as 'new' and taken to depart in terms of its scope and power from traditional social network analysis. In short, network theory is pictured as attaining the status of a mega-paradigm in the social sciences as a form of social theory and analyses that in part gains its epistemological status from the influence of gestalt psychology and European structuralism promising a kind of empiricism which is both holistic and relational, and, thus, poses a challenge to all forms of epistemological atomism based on the individual as the basic unit of analysis, including rational choice theory.

Both Gestalt psychology and structuralism that spawned relational, systems and genetic epistemologies offered not only a relational account of structures (of the whole and its parts) but also seemed to offer the possibility of accounting for the genesis and transformation of structures. Yet the tangled genealogies of the emergence of the field are difficult to describe and there is doubt over to what extent we might talk of the different strands of network theory as comprising a coherent program or even sharing similar epistemological assumptions. Network theory has also been referred as a 'new science' (Watts, 2004) characterized in terms of the mathematicization of method especially in relation to 'small world' analysis of complex networks, yet it is not clear where formalization of methods, led by mathematicians and physicists, actually constitute a 'new science' in the same way that any formalization of a discipline, say, for example economics, constitutes a 'new science.'

There are interesting similarities and a core set of shared concepts between policy discourses of the knowledge economy and the green economy that provide useful, new, and constructive economic imaginaries. These new imaginaries at the social scientific utilize an interdisciplinary set of concepts, theories and approaches that has the potential to map a new reality and evolutionary stage in cultural and economic development of networked postindustrial societies.

4. Greening the Knowledge Economy

4.1 The Postmodern Critique of Neoliberalism

The postmodern critique is not merely a negative account of neoclassical assumptions or simply an updating of economics according to the debates of the 1980s and after. It also constitutes a positive moment that provides important directions for the future. I have called these directions the 'greening the knowledge economy' by which I mean a constellation after the 'second industrial divide' of a synergistic relation between two mega-trends, imperatives and forces that acting upon one another become a significant trajectory for postindustrial economies. The tradition of economics of information and knowledge now is a well documented field that coalesces with other disciplines to define the discourse of the knowledge economy (Peters & Besley 2006; Peters, 2008). This discourse both predates and postdates neoliberalism although it has also been given a neoliberal reading by world policy agencies like the World Bank based on a version of human capital theory with investment in key competencies and neoliberal restructuring of education based on principles of deregulation, privatization and the introduction of student loans.

The neoliberal reading is also sometimes associated with the growth of sign economies and financialization of the global economy (Forster, 2007). Yet the neoliberal reading is only one reading and it does not analyze or identify the notion of knowledge as a global public good that demands government intervention designed to protect the public domain. The neoliberal reading does not take into account or try to explain the fundamental differences between the traditional industrial economy and the knowledge economy except by reference to pure rationality assumptions that do not sit well or apply within networked environments or merging distributive knowledge ecologies. In these 'ecological' environments none of the elements of homo economicus focusing on individuality, rationality and self-interest apply. The neoliberal reading does not understand how knowledge as a commodity behaves differently from other commodities. Neither does it recognize the parallel discourse of the 'knowledge society' that begins in the sociological literature on postindustrialism in the early 1960s which is often directed at concerns about new forms of stratification, universal access to knowledge and the role and significance of knowledge workers and institutions (Peters and Besley, 2006). Finally, the neoliberal reading is stuck temporally in the 1990s and does not take account of the movement towards various forms of the open economy signified in the creative economy, the learning economy, the open science economy (see Peters, 2009a,b).

4.2 Conceptions of the Green Economy

Perhaps most importantly the neoliberal reading does not recognize the way in which conceptions of the green economy now offer both new strategic and policy directions in ways that reinforce and interact dynamically with the knowledge economy. (21) Brian Milani (2000), for instance, in his Designing the Green Economy: The Postindustrial Alternative to Corporate Globalization argues that the ecological economy is an authentic postindustrialism based on principles of regeneration and sustainability aimed at quality of life, community rebuilding and environmental renewal. The green economy is based on the recognition of ecological principles of self-organization, protection of diversity, and the enhancement of network flows. (22) Neoclassical economics based on rationalistic and reductionist assumptions does not have the conceptual or philosophical resources to recognize the significance of natural assets, their relational contexts and their renewable and dynamic environments that presupposed elements of the ecosystem: throughput, distributive development, feedback and scale (see Daly, 2003). Founded on the work of Kenneth E. Boulding (1978), Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's bioeconomics (1971; see also Mayumi, 2001), and Hermann Daly (1999) ecological economics addresses the interdependence of human economies and natural ecosystems and has strong connections with both green economics and ecology with the focus on networks. (23)

4.3 Environmental Ethics: From Anthropocentrism to Systems (24)

As the renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking indicates in a lecture 'On the Beginning of Time': 'All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago. This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology. Yet it is now taken for granted.' (25) He outlines how the discussion whether or not the universe had a beginning persisted through the 19th and 20th centuries and was conducted on the basis of theology and philosophy on the basis of anthropocentric assumptions with little consideration of observational evidence partly because of the poor unreliability of cosmological evidence up until very recently. 'Big Bang,' the name for a cosmological model of the universe coined by Fred Hoyle for a theory he did not believe, began with observations by Edwin Hubble and his discovery of evidence for the continuous expansion of the universe. In essence, the theory is based notably on observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, large-scale structures, and the redshifts of distant supernovae (Ross, 2008). The technical details need not detain us here as there are many good accounts of the standard model. What is important for our purposes is to note the shift from a set of anthropocentric assumptions to a theory based on observation and its importance for providing an observational and empirical basis for an environmental ethics based on the existence, life, scale and longevity of the sun at the centre of our solar system. This feature requires some comment because it is an unusual claim to consider the way in which empirical matters to some extent determine the philosophical nature of environmental ethics even where the notion of ethics in relation to the environment is also unclear. Yet it seems clear that environmental ethics as the theory of environmental right conduct or the environmental good life (where the notion of life itself is, definitionally, at stake) rests fundamentally upon the notion of 'environment' and how we understand it.

Environmental ethics has been slow to develop and has suffered from anthropocentrism or 'human-centeredness' embedded in traditional Western ethical thinking that has assigned intrinsic value only to human beings considered as separate moral entities from their supporting environment. The difficulty is whether such anthropocentric accounts can re-conceive the relations between human beings and their environment and if so, whether the concept of environment might be taken in an extra-terrestrial sense as applying to our solar system with the sun at the centre. This seems more like the environmental package that has a kind of systemic wholeness and integrity as a system with the energy source at its center without which life would not be possible.

If we are to accept this more inclusive notion of environment that decenters Earth within the solar system, then the notion of environment has to be renegotiated as one that dynamically also includes the lifespan of the solar system. One of the advantages of this definitional move is to resituate human beings in relation to the 'environment' out of which they emerged in a number of evolutionary steps towards complex intelligent life forms and systems, and into which they will finally remerged. When environmental ethics emerged in the 1970s it began to call for a change of values based on ecological understandings that emphasized the interconnectivity of all life and thereby issues a challenge to theological, philosophical and scientific accounts that posited individual moral agents as separate from and logically prior to their environment. This challenge drew on early environmental studies, and prompted the emergence of ecology as a formal discipline and deep ecology, as well as feminist, new animism, and later social ecology and bioregional accounts, sought to dislodge anthropocentric accounts that gave intrinsic value to human beings at the expense of the moral value of living systems (Brenan and Lo, 2008). While this insight does not establish what kind of environmental ethical theory one should adopt it does establish the prima facie case that traditional theories of ethics have been unable to talk about the environment in ethical terms. This is largely because they have been bolstered by deep anthropocentric assumptions that are embedded in earlier modern, scientific accounts of 'nature', and also in the nature of industrial capitalism (White, 1967; Merchant, 1990).

4.4 Ecopolitics and Green Capitalism as Foci of Environmental Education

Ecopolitics must come to terms with the scramble for resources that increasingly dominate the competitive motivations and long range resource planning of the major industrial world powers. There are a myriad of new threats to the environment that have been successfully spelled out by ecophilosophers that have already begun to impact upon the world in all their facets. First, there is the depletion of non-renewable resources and, in particular, oil, gas, timber and minerals. Second, and in related-fashion, is the energy crisis itself upon which the rapidly industrializing countries and the developed world depend. Third, is the rise of China and India with their prodigious appetites that will match the U.S. within a few decades in a rapacious demand for more of everything that triggers resource scrambles and the heavy investment in resource-rich regions such as Africa. Fourth, global climate change will have the greatest impact upon the world's poorest countries, multiplying the risk of conflict and resource wars. With these trends and possible scenarios only a better understanding of the environment can save us and the planet. A better understanding of the earth's environmental system is essential if scientists in concert with politicians, policy-makers and business leaders are to promote green exchange and to ascertain whether green capitalism strategies that aim at long-term sustainability are possible.

The energy crisis may be a blessing in disguise for the U.S. Jeremy Rifkin (2003) envisions a new economy powered by hydrogen that will fundamentally change the nature of our market, political and social institutions as we approach the end of the fossil-fuel era, with inescapable consequences for industrial society. New hydrogen fuel-cells are now being pioneered which together with the design principles of smart information technologies can provide new distributed forms of energy use. Thomas Friedman (2008) also argues the crisis can lead to reinvestment in infrastructure and alternative energy sources in the cause of nation-building. Education has an important role to play in the new energy economy both in terms of changing worldview and the promotion of a green economy but also in terms of R&D's contribution to energy efficiency, battery storage and new forms of renewable energy.

At this stage of the world's development with space travel, planetary exploration, satellite communications systems in space, and scientific probing of the beginnings of the universe, the concept of 'environment' itself needs radical extension to the solar system and universe. Increasingly, although it is still early days, the earth needs to be thought not just as 'Gaia,' as an organic living system but also as part of a larger, more broadly embracing environmental system. The notion that the environment is a dynamic concept, of which we are a part, is the central understanding of a greening of capitalism. Sustainable prosperity becomes possible with a shift to knowledge and creative economies based on services and clean, efficient technologies, although the ecological society depends on a broad consensus over the nature of the market and the economic system: What are the conflicts between the market and ecological economics? (Daly and Farley, 2004). Does sustainability imply 'limits' and to what extent? (Greenwood, 2007). Can Green Capitalism 2.0 solve the looming biocrisis within the constraints of a green mixed economy? 'Natural capital', the self-renewing ecosystem on which all wealth depends, is the basis of green capitalism and we need to develop democratic and participatory means by which to encourage and pursue it. This is one of the great tasks facing education at all levels in the twenty-first century.


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(1.) The derivation of the English meaning of the prefix 'eco' is based on the French eco-, Latin -oeco from the Greek oikoc(oikos) meaning 'house', 'household' or 'dwelling place'. Ernst Haeckel used the term 'ecology' (oikos-logos) in the 1870s to describe the relationship of living organisms to their environment. Economy is also derived from the Greek oikos together with nomos (law; regulate) and nomia (stewardship, managing). A Dictionary of Prefixes, Suffixes, and Combining Forms based on Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged, 2002 (p. 16), gives the following entry: 'ec- or eco- also oec- or oeco- or oiko- combining form earlier also yco-, fr. MF ? LL@ MF yco-, fr. LL oeco-, oiko-, fr. Gk oik-, oiko-, fr. oikos house, habitation1 a : household economy: 1b : economic and eco-cultural: 2 : habitat or environment esp. as a factor significantly influencing the mode of life or the course of development ecospecies: ecosystem: ecad: 3 ec- or eco- : ecological or environmental ecocatastrophe', at There are good reasons both etymological and conceptual for examining the root prefix constructions of 'ecosophy', 'ecological' and 'economy'. This paper draws on Peters (2009), Peters and Araya (2009), and Peters and Hung (2009). See also Peters and Besley (2006), Peters (2007), Kapitzke and Peters (2007), and Peters, Marginson and Murphy (2009).

(2.) Complexity theory is a broad term used for a research approach to problems in diverse disciplines (physics, chemistry, molecular biology, meteorology, economics, sociology, psychology and neuroscience) based on non-linear, nondeterministic systems evolution. Cybernetic, catastrophe, chaos and complexity are forms of thinking that historically have attempted to theorize these phenomena (see e.g., Prigogine, 1997; Cilliers, 1998; Amaral and Ottino, 2004). In particular, see the special issue and monograph Complexity and the Philosophy of Education in Mason, 2008; and my essay 'Complexity and Knowledge Systems' (Peters, 2008).

(3.) This list is based on Michael A. Peters, Simon Marginson and Peter Murphy (2008) as it was compiled for New Learning: A Charter for Change in Education at

(4.) For Lundvall's publications see his webpage at

(5.) This section is based on my entry in New Learning: A Charter for Change in Education at but see Peters, Marginson, and Murphy (2009).

(6.) See The Center for Accelerated learning at; see e.g., The Framework for Gifted Education at production/reports/pdfs/giftedandtalfwrk.pdf.

(7.) For innovation theory see the Swedish economist Bengt-Ake Lundvall's webpage at and especially his concept of 'the learning economy' (above).

(8.) See Benkler's homepage at where he outlines his research in terms of a set of general theoretical problems, including: Cooperation and Human Systems Design (how we understand the dynamics of human cooperation through work in many disciplines, from experimental economics, evolutionary biology, and computer science, to organizational sociology and anthropology, and how we can synthesize this body of work into an approach to designing human systems: be they technical platforms, business processes, or law); Commons-based information production and exchange (sustainability and comparative efficiency); and, Freedom, justice, and the organization of information production on nonproprietary principles (Normative analysis of the implications of commons-based production and exchange of information and culture). Many of his papers are available online.

(9.) See

(10.) See

(11.) See

(12.) See

(13.) This section is based on my entry in New Learning: A Charter for Change in Education at

(14.) See, for example, the Indian Open Schooling Network (IOSN) at, the National Institute of Open Schooling at, and Open School BC (British Columbia) at

(15.) See 15 &Itemid=29.

(16.) See the OpenCourseWare Consortium for the full list of participating countries and list of courses at

(17.) The full declaration can be found at

(18.) See the huge and growing field of network economics at

(19.) This basic description is taken from

(20.) Please refer to the original articles for references.

(21.) Obama's green capitalism based on green energy policies is in part a response to the problem of global climate change but also, I would argue, also an ecological understanding of the global financial crisis and the undesirable network effects of financialization of the global economy. Obama's policies offer the possibility for a new wave of growth based on clean-green technologies for a low-carbon economy and forms of economic sustainability based on renewal resources.

(22.) See the website on green economics at and the site on ecological economics at

(23.) See

(24.) This section and the draws on Peters and Hung (2009) and my entries in New Learning: A Charter for Change in Education at

(25.) See


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