A core conservation curriculum For learning about the engagement and empowerment of local people
"It is widely acknowledged that education rarely challenges the prevailing paradigms and interests of national governments, wealthy elites, or dominant groups, whatever the economic or political system. .... Misinformation survives from generation to generation if teachers teach what they have been taught. As teachers, we have a responsibility to critically review our own education and seek out viewpoints that were not represented"
Julie Andrzejewski & John Alessio (1999)


The economy of place is a new paradigm expressed as 'localism', which is not central to education, but is essential for future human survival. The central argument is that economic sustainability is best secured by the creation of local or regional self-reliant, community economies which reconnect capital to place. The practical tools are regional food economies and other locally oriented efforts, which together define an "economy of place .

Brian Innes summarises this as a community economy which:

* is a bounded economy within which the rule of reciprocity applies;
* calls forth cooperation and ethical behaviour; it generates interdependence, the glue that binds and grows community;
* harvests from the wider economy, supports personal and local sovereignty (no bank manager to decide who gets to share in the economy), and develops a wide range of skills including those of management and cooperation;
* engenders a new way of seeing, a way that sees human beings as naturally cooperative and life-affirming.

The central educational concept is the ‘social action cycle’, which consists of local stakeholder groups making action plans for the delivery of localism, defined as:

  • Actions which can be completed by the community itself (e.g. setting up a children's holiday club, or creating a local business directory)

  • Actions relating to service delivery (e.g. issues relating to traffic management, bus services, policing or recycling)

  • Actions relating to the built environment (e.g. develop plans for affordable housing, improve children's play facilities, renovate or build a new village hall)

  • Actions relating the local economy (e.g. local currency systems, food co-ops, micro-enterprise, farmers' markets, permaculture, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, car sharing schemes, barter systems, co-housing and eco-villages, mutual aid, home-based production, community corporations and banks, and localist business alliances).

The action cycle is closed by communicating through social networks the achievements to other stakeholder groups and feedback to government and community supporting agencies. The latter, through partnerships, campaigns and funding, help engage and enpower the local stakeholder groups.


For a more detailed concept map showing routes for engagement and empowerment of local people (EELP), see