di Vincenza Merlino
For ease of reading, this article is divided into three parts.
In the latest European Council recommendations on learning for environmental sustainability (EU, COM(2022) 11 final), it is pointed out that despite decades of effort and initiatives, learning for environmental sustainability:
- (i) is not yet a systemic element of policy and practice in the EU;
- (ii) this may be due to the interdisciplinary nature of learning for environmental sustainability, which may be at odds with established cultures and norms in education and training; and
- (iii) many young people feel that school is not providing them with an adequate understanding of climate change, the environment, and ways to live and act more sustainably.
- (i) critically analyzes why the culture of development sustainability may still be a challenge for education today;
- (ii) proposes Philosophy for Community as an innovative educational practice and a transformative teaching methodology useful for
- (a) facilitating the actualization of the interdisciplinary approach constitutive of the culture of sustainability in order to help learners understand the interconnectedness of knowledge that determines the interrelationships among economic, social and natural systems and thus empower them to support the culture of development sustainability;
- (b) make teaching/learning processes engaging, inclusive and participatory in order to urge learners to develop, increase and co-construct knowledge; enhance and implement cognitive, meta-cognitive and socio-relational skills and abilities to stimulate active participation in society; transform attitudes and values into ecologically competent behaviors; and enable them to practice the culture of sustainability of development.
Keywords: Philosophy for Community; sustainability of development; cultural transition; active citizenship; sustainable behaviors
Nelle ultime raccomandazioni del consiglio europeo relative all’apprendimento per la sostenibilità ambientale (EU, COM(2022) 11 final) viene posto in evidenza che, nonostante decenni di sforzi e iniziative, l’apprendimento per la sostenibilità ambientale:
- i) non è ancora un elemento sistemico della politica e della pratica nell’UE;
- ii) ciò può dipendere dalla natura interdisciplinare dell’apprendimento per la sostenibilità ambientale che può essere in contrasto con le culture e le norme consolidate in materia di istruzione e formazione;
- iii) molti giovani ritengono che la scuola non stia assicurando loro un’adeguata comprensione dei cambiamenti climatici, dell’ambiente e delle modalità per vivere e agire in modo più sostenibile.
In questo contributo, di conseguenza:
- i) si analizzano criticamente i motivi per i quali la cultura della sostenibilità dello sviluppo può costituire ancora oggi una sfida per l’educazione;
- ii) si propone la Philosophy for Community come pratica educativa innovativa e come metodologia didattica trasformativa utile per
- a) facilitare l’attualizzazione dell’approccio interdisciplinare costitutivo della cultura della sostenibilità al fine di aiutare i discenti a comprendere l’interconnessione dei saperi che determinano le interrelazioni tra sistemi economici, sociali e naturali e dunque renderli capaci di sostenere la cultura della sostenibilità dello sviluppo;
- b) rendere coinvolgenti, inclusivi e partecipativi i processi di insegnamento/apprendimento al fine di sollecitare i discenti a sviluppare, accrescere e co-costruire conoscenze; potenziare ed implementare abilità e capacità cognitive, meta-cognitive e socio- relazionali per stimolare la partecipazione attiva nella società; trasformare atteggiamenti e valori in comportamenti ecologicamente competenti; renderli capaci di praticare la cultura della sostenibilità dello sviluppo.
Keywords: Philosophy for Community; sostenibilità dello sviluppo; transizione culturale, cittadinanza attiva; comportamenti sostenibili
The culture of sustainability of development: a challenge for education
Addressing the issues inherent in the conceptualization of sustainability is by no means simple.
If, in fact, intuitively the etymology of the word refers us quite clearly to its meaning derived from the verb “to sustain,” which means “to hold onto,” from the Latin substenere, composed of sub – (=so-) and tenere (=tenere), and thus to hold up, endure, tolerate; its application in the environmental sphere, may not as intuitively, refer us to a shared meaning, since: pertaining to the ability of our planet Earth, considered as a system (Bertalanffy, 2004), to sustain on itself the survival of all the species that inhabit it, due to the objective lack of our knowledge (Morin, 2001) and the complexity of the mechanisms of functioning of natural systems (Bateson, 1972 ), it is a very difficult concept to clarify.
In fact, considering that sustainability is not and can never be an a priori certainty precisely because the term-which refers to a potentiality that exerts its effects in the future-recalls the need for compulsory verification in progress, it is not easy to determine, accordingly and with certainty, what can be adequately sustained by the natural system on which various factors, including socio-cultural ones, intervene, and what cannot (Bologna, 2008).
That being said, keeping well in mind that “there are no panaceas for solving the complex problems that characterize the interrelationships that exist within the processes inherent in social-ecological systems (Social-Ecological-System) and that practical solutions for the application of sustainability pathways do not come through single prescriptions or prescriptions set in stone” (Ostrom et al, 2007), pursuing sustainability means proceeding through continuous interdisciplinary and open research (Kuhn, 1972; Popper, 1995) that, having as its main goal not to weaken the viability, adaptability, flexibility, and learning capacity of natural and social systems (Langston, 1988), can help nurture the evolution of the concept of both human and terrestrial resilience rather than perpetuating the concept of both human and terrestrial vulnerability (Holling, 1973).
This is in a nutshell the challenge of our time, which, conveyed by the concept of integrated sustainability (Levett, 1988; Atkisson 2014), hooked to the conceptualization of strong sustainability (Ayres et al., 2001), implies that: the economy is dependent on society and both are part of the larger environmental system whereby: development can be considered sustainable if it ensures the sustainability of development over the long term, that is, improving the quality of life while remaining within the carrying capacity of the ecosystems that support it (IUCN, UNEP, WWF, 1991).
Therefore, considered as scientifically sound is the hypothesis that for the first time in the history of Earth’s life, a single species has come to profoundly alter its fundamental mechanisms of evolution itself, so much so that its intervention can be compared to an astrophysical or geological force, such as those that have played a decisive role in the more than three and a half billion years of life’s presence on our planet (Crutzen, 2005) and that it appears to be causing a sixth mass extinction: the first to be caused by a species that shares our planet with others (Steffen et al., 2005), it is indeed peculiar that we continue to see fit to proceed along the path of the socioeconomic development model pursued thus far (Baskin, 2005).
Indeed, the latter, although it has acknowledged the need to take on new forms and modalities in terms of circularity (Raworth, 2007), does not seem to have disengaged itself either from the ambiguity of the terms in which development and growth (Goodland et al., 1991), were placed in relation in the Burtland Report (Latouche, 2004) or, consequently, from the weak sustainability example that it constitutes by founding itself according to a large and transdisciplinary critical literature (Goodland et al.,1991; Daly, 1996; 2005; Costanza et al, 1997; Meaodows et al. 1992; 2004; Latouche, 2004a; Rokstrom et al., 2009, Redclift, 2005, Bosselman, 2016) on the (erroneous) principle that social and environmental goals can be achieved as a consequence of economic development, which, as the guarantor of the high rate of economic growth and GDP increase through the support of technological progress, is ultimately the development goal that must be sustained over time as a priority.
If one continues to embrace the idea that “sustainable development involves limits, but not absolute limits, but rather limits imposed by the current state of technology and social organization […] which can, however, be managed and improved for the purpose of ushering in a new era of economic growth” (WCED, 1987), then one must also seriously consider that this implies that:
1. The paradigm of “human exceptionalism” – a paradigm that from an anthropocentric perspective professes the uniqueness of humankind considered capable of solving social problems through relentless intervention in the environment through progressive economic growth and technological innovation (Catton, Dunlap, 1980) – has not yet been abandoned in favor of the adoption of the “New Ecological Paradigm” (NEP), according to which instead although humans are distinguished from the rest of living beings by culture and intellect, they are bound to the environment just like any other species;
2. Along the lines of the theory of cultural lag (Ogburn, 1922): it is still not given due consideration that the mere development of physical and enabling technologies and infrastructures to improve the process of compatibility between human life and environmental resources may be ineffective if individual and collective human behaviors, the cultural systems that influence them by defining lifestyles, habits, and organizational and managerial processes, and on which technological progress itself inevitably impacts (Latour, 2005), are not considered.
Agreeing with Daly (1996) therefore: what is needed then is no longer an increasingly refined analysis of a flawed, distorted and/or circular vision of the economy, but an analysis of the cultural patterns that convey its entrenchment and a deeper awareness regarding the terms in which the radical transformations that the ecological transition demands today, must be understood.
The latter constituting, in fact, as systemic, evolutionary and complex, affecting socio-technical, socio-poitical, socio-economic and socio-cultural aspects (Kemp, Rotmans, 2005) require a process of culturalization of sustainability that calls for a new regenerative culture of the sustainable knowledge. This culture, based on the complexity paradigm, implies a conceptual re-fraiming (Goffman,1959) that must also go through the re-creation of spaces that allow the interplay between the subject and th object (Merleau-Ponty, 2002, Heisenberg, 1985).
This interplay that can best be understood through what Bergson (2002) calls “thinking beyond the human condition” and whereby “we ar not simply creatures of habit and automatism, but also organism involved in a creative evolution of becoming” implies that: cognition traditionally defined as the process of knowing, is not a representation of the world but a continuous generation of a world that occurs through the process of life which therefore is able to explain how the organism does not react to environmental stimuli by a linear chain of cause and effect adapting but responds with structural changes co-evolving in the environment (Maturana, Varela, 1980; Kauffman, 1983; Lovelock, 1979; 1988).
The task of helping to support this process of culturalizazion of sustainabily is, of course, entrusted to education and training systems, which-recognized as having the crucial role of empowering learners of all ages to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to live more sustainably, change behaviors and embrace healthier lifestyles, and contribute individually and collectively to the transformation of our societies EU, COM(2022) 11 final; EU, COM(2020) 625 final.; EU, COM(2019) 640 final.; Next Generation (EU, 2020). Implementing and applying the innumerable now programmatic recommendations and reforms that from environmental education to educate for the conservation and preservation of the natural environment (IUCN,1970), have followed through to the very current Agenda 2030; they have certainly not failed to evade this task.
Despite these past decades of efforts and initiatives, however, the latest recommendation of the European Council (Eu, COM(2022) 11 final) highlights that: (i) learning for environmental sustainability is still not a systemic element of policy and practice in the EU; (ii) this may be due to the interdisciplinary nature of learning for environmental sustainability, which may be at odds with established cultures and norms in education and training; and (iii) even today, many young people still feel that school is not ensuring that they have an adequate understanding of climate change, the environment, and ways to live and act more sustainably.
Given this: if one can sadly still agree with Bateson (1984) that “current educational processes, from the student’s point of view are a rip-off in that while much of what is taught in school today is new and up-to-date, the assumptions or premises of thinking, the epistemic premises that underlie the teaching/learning processes on which all our teaching is based are outdated”, then the real issue to be addressed concerns the obsolescence of systems of thought, whereby the crises we are experiencing even before being ecological are noological and therefore: “at the origin of material pollution there is a less visible, but no less problematic pollution: cultural pollution” (Mortari, 1994).
If, therefore, education and training systems fail to take due account that ecological issues affecting ecosystemic relationships, are also a question of the adequacy of the way of knowing the global systemic structure and that therefore what is at stake is not only the knowledge we have of the world, but the knowledge of how we know the world, how we are taught to experience and discover it (Bateson, 1984), then: it is not so much ecology that must enter education, but it is all education that must become “ecological” so it is only necessary to become ecologically educated (Orr, 1990; 1991).
Being ecologically educated or eco-competent (Capra, 2005; Capra, Luisi, 2014) means, therefore, not only knowing and understanding the organizing principles of ecological communities (ecosystems) but also using them to create sustainable human communities i.e., social and cultural environments in which the goals of that “sustainable utopia” (Giovannini, 2018) can only be achieved if the commitment of political, economic and social forces can be brought together to take on an integrated vision of the aspects of sustainable development capable of changing the way the challenges posed by the culture of sustainable development must be read and addressed.
With this in mind, it is then necessary for education and training systems to bring that paradigmatic cultural revolution (Brown, 1981; Capra, 1982) definitively to fruition: (i) abandoning the reductionist proceeding of knowing and organizing knowledge which, following a mechanistic view of Cartesian epistemological setting (Descartes, 1995), has had for cause and effect that of having dissolved complexity through simplicity (Morin, 1985; Capra, 1997); (ii) adopting the complexity paradigm on which I have argued elsewhere (Merlino, Decarli, 2020) and on which the culture of sustainability finds its foundation; (iii) becoming aware, in short, of the changes that have taken place in our worldview over the past two centuries (Morin, 2001a; Capra, 1982).
These changes, showing how the systemic-complex epistemological revolution has highlighted the similarity of the systemic-complex structure of nature with the systemic-complex structure of man (Prigogine, 1997), thus need to be metabolized in order to understand the culture of sustainability that: (i) by placing as its object of analysis the relationship of interconnections between natural systems and social systems; (ii) by translating the concept of sustainable into the terms of the ability to sustain and maintain over time a development that supports human societies without undermining the environmental and social foundations on which the same capacity for development rests; and (iii) forces us to question our established systems of thought.
Constituting itself, thus, as a great challenge to our capacities of understanding, of analysis, of interdisciplinarity, the sustainability paradigm requires that, for its concrete implementation, the entire educational system, make further efforts to: i) make disciplinary boundaries increasingly labile by freeing them from the mental categories in which we try to “cage” our difficulties of connecting (Bologna, 2005); (ii) experiment with methods that, abandoning epistemological (Bateson, 1972) and methodological (Morin, 2007) errors, provide learners with the cognitive, meta-cognitive and socio-relational tools useful for enabling them to exercise active citizenship, stimulating in them the desire to act in society for sustainability, cultivating in them the dialogical consciousness that comes from the exercise of complex thinking (Morin, 1991; Morin et al. 1993;) and which, by allowing us, at the same time, to criticize each other, self-criticize and understand each other can help abandon the culture of passive accumulation of sectorized information and promote not only processes of conscientization (Freire, 2004) and decolonization of the imaginary (Latouche, 2004b), of beliefs, motivations, emotions, values but also of shared deliberation, inclusive and democratic aimed at soliciting more meaningful participation in the decision-making processes of the community to which they belong in order to foster negotiated and shared co-constructions of new representations that can guide human behavior to become ecologically competent to take on new ways of being in the world re-designed on paths of integrated sustainability.
The Philosophy for Community: an innovative educational practice to sustain the culture of sustainability of development
And […] it is not amazing that the need for philosophy resurfaces punctually in times of transition, when men lose their confidence in the stability of the world, when they no longer know what their role in the world is anymore. It is not surprising that this need resurfaces whenever it becomes necessary and urgent to ask afresh what are the general requirements of a human life. (Arendt,2003)
The understanding of the debate on the sustainability of development and its very prosecutability and practicability, as previously highlighted, revolve around a few basic principles that, briefly, concern:
1. Strong interdisciplinarity, which, although it forces us to revise our ways of knowing and thus our established worldviews by exposing us to reflect on the mistakes and illusions of the blindness of our knowledge (Morin, 1991; 2001c; Bateson, 1972; Capra, 1997), remains indispensable for gaining knowledge and awareness of the terms in which what takes place within the interconnections between natural systems and social systems influences and is influenced in turn by the relationships between cultural systems and individual behaviors;
2. Broad flexibility of the concept of sustainability, which, despite gravitating within certain parameters already identified as objectively incontrovertible-such as those of planetary boundaries (Steffen et al. 2015), – forces us to revise our concept of scientific rationality by exposing us to a reflection on the principles of pertinent knowledge (Morin, 2001a;c) in proceeding with field research within which we can re-define new paths of developmental sustainability that contemplate the ability to grasp global problems in order to inscribe partial and local knowledge within them (Morin, 2001a; IIASA, 2018) ;
3. Integrated systems approach that, always taking into account the nonlinearity of the logic by which natural and social systems co-evolve (Maturana, Varela, 1980) always assumes a perspective of epistemological complexity including, as a consequence, a certain degree of gnoseological uncertainty (Prigogine, 1997; Morin, Bocchi, 1990).
In these terms, emphasizing the emergence of a real new culture endowed with its own scientific status, Reitan (2005) has elaborated a definition of Sustainability Science connoting it as “the integration and application of knowledge of the earth system, obtained especially from the sciences of holistic approach and historical slant (such as geology, ecology, climatology, oceanography) harmonized with knowledge of human interrelationships derived from the humanities and social sciences, aimed at assessing, mitigating, and minimizing the consequences, both regional and global levels, of human impacts on the planetary system and society”.
Now, while this definition may appear controversial in that it does not connote a mature scientific discipline with clear conceptual and theoretical components, its innovative force lies in that radical change in worldview that emerges from its emphasis on the disciplinary contamination necessary for the promotion of new forms of knowledge capable of identifying new principles, methodologies and tools to concretely intervene in complex systems without compromising their delicate balance.
On this interdisciplinary contamination, many scholars have tried to reflect in order to develop it in the most rigorous and effective way, and if, by way of example, the biologist Wilson (1998) investigated in depth the need for a link between the fields of scientific and humanistic research, trying to explain how the key to the unification between the two fields could be that of Concilience; it is Prigogine (1993) who in his New Alliance states that: in order to have an account of sustainability today, to try to understand the conceptual advances inherent in it, one cannot disregard having knowledge of content that emerges from an interdisciplinary, broad and in-depth vision that is indispensable for gaining awareness of what is really going on in the relationships between natural systems and the cultural, social, economic, political and technological systems created by our species and that impact the planet.
On the other hand, in the precipitously educational sphere, it is Morin (2000) who: i) endorses the need for a contamination between scientific and humanistic cultures ii) proposes that each and every expert in each and every discipline should pay his or her own epistemological tithe in order to understand that each discipline must be fully aware of the specificity of its role and the partial methodological autonomy that in fact connotes it (Morin, 1999; 2000; 2001).
Intending, therefore, by epistemological tithe: (i) an in-depth reflection by the scholars of each individual discipline on the relationship between their own and other disciplines; (ii) a self-criticism that is both historical and theoretical in character, that is, concerning both methodological reflection and historical reconstruction-that is, the two aspects that have marked the genesis and outcomes of the various disciplines and their relationships; Morin argues that “paying” one’s tithing is useful in order to develop a new vision, a new methodological, epistemological and ethical approach that recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena in a systemic and complex framework and fundamental to spreading that new way of thinking indispensable to enable communications between the anthropo-social sciences and the natural sciences and realize consequently, the desired epistemological and gnoseological turn that, aimed at the completion of that path from reductionism to complexity, inheres a profound methodological regeneration.
The latter by negotiating with the uncertain, the imprecise, the indeterminate, the complex, the interdisciplinary and the transdisciplinary, can ground a new way of knowing and organizing knowledge useful for addressing the challenges that the culture of sustainability of development poses to education (Morin, 2001c).
In this direction, the invitation to take the first step of self-criticism can only be addressed to philosophy (Dewey, 1929; Morin, 2007; Bateson, 1972), which, having invented the critical dialogical-rational method (Popper, 1998), can therefore aspire by epistemological status to be configured as a common teaching to all directions and therefore constitute itself as a methodologically conscious link between different disciplinary approaches, could and should set an example to other disciplines (Morin,1991, 2007a).
Charging the epistemological tithe to the discipline of philosophy, Lipman (2002) has worked out the curriculum of his Philosophy for Children (henceforth P4C).
In his manifesto essay Philosophical Practice and Educational Reform, Lipman (2002), in fact, expresses in no uncertain terms the need to proceed propaedeutically with a critical, historical and methodological reflection on the discipline of philosophy.
Arguing that philosophy went off track when, preferring to evolve as an academic discipline, (in the wake of the establishment of the Platonic academy), it abandoned the Socratic method of practicing philosophy as an art of associated research, the result of continuous dialogue with others, Lipman thus reconsiders the Socratic sense of common research, which, following the method of reasoning and argumentation to arrive at the definition of concepts, is configured as that properly scientific procedure (Aristotle, 2000) that allows men to understand each other and associate for the common search for the best way of life.
Given that, therefore, the proceeding of reasoning thus understood does not inherent any specific disciplinary content, it can be understood then as an emblematic procedure of doing philosophy and whereby philosophy can connote itself as practicing philosophy and, as such, can construct the weave through which all disciplines interpenetrate, to the point of producing a seamless fabric, reducing that sense of curricular fragmentation felt by students, helping them rather to conceptualize the sense of ‘inter- and trans-disciplinarity .
Given, moreover, that this method of practicing philosophy is not contemplated (to date) in traditional formal education systems, Lipman invents and suggests that it can be actualized by transforming classrooms into communities of philosophical research (henceforth CoPR) that can be configured as a self-corrective, critical-reflective, social-relational teaching methodology aimed at soliciting creativity.
Declaring for this, that he is indebted to the pragmatist epistemological approach to knowledge, Lipman specifies that the research methodology used within CoRF thus borrows:
(i) from Peirce (2012) the very concept of a research community that: (a) making use of the principle of fallibility as the essence of the scientific method whereby our knowledge is never absolute but always rotates in a continuum of uncertainty and indeterminacy; (b) establishing self-correctiveness as a means of making “our ideas clear” rather than “clear and distinct” (Descartes, 1995); (c) denotes a research methodology that devoted to randomness, to discovering its weaknesses and correcting the flaws in its procedures can configure itself as an alternative to the rationalist-Cartesian tradition;
(ii) from Mead (1934;1938) the concept of bicontinuous conditionality according to which: (a) between conditioned and conditioned, between the individual and the environment, the relation of determination goes not only from the former to the latter but also, simultaneously, from the latter to the former whereby the constructive role of the subject unfolds in the conceptualization of the notion of dialogical experience within which (i) human beings act towards things on the basis of the meanings such things have for them; (ii) the meanings of such things are derived from or arise from the social interaction the individual has with his fellow human beings; (iii) these meanings are processed and transformed in an interpretive process whereby (b) reciprocal conditioning allows for overcoming the concept of separability that caused the distinction between the object of knowledge and the knowing subject and denotes a research methodology that actualizes a way of organizing knowledge that contemplates all perspectives considered as never separate and as not independent of each other and therefore devoted to accommodating the transformation of value frames of reference;
(iii) from Dewey (1922, 1933), the model of inquiry following which, the relations between subject and object of inquiry being the very object of inquiry, it is in the terms of a trans-action between human beings and things that every cognitive process can be defined as a commitment to the transformation of reality on the part of man whose constitutively social essence of self does not, however, imply the loss of the capacity to desire and choose to be able to be a “determining factor of events”, and whereby the methodology of knowledge inquiry can be configured as a methodology of learning that is not only meaningful but also trans-formative and therefore creative.
In this sense, to the metaphor of knowledge as building according to the laying of bricks (Descartes, 1995) P4C thus contrasts the metaphor of the network as a constant and permanent co-construction of knowledge (Capra, 1997) and, claiming epistemological pluralism, aims to go beyond the linear planning of traditional teaching/learning processes and can open itself to the adoption of the culture of sustainability for which, in the system’s relationship with the environment, knowledge is a special aspect in that it is configured not as a product of a cumulative process but as a combinatorial, creative activity, extended over time and thus can be configured as a holistic, ecological and systemic process (Bateson, 1984).
In these terms, CoPR, thus configuring itself as an epistemic subject that develops a process of inquiry into a shared object in order to co-construct inter- and intra-subjective senses and meanings on the basis of a procedural structure arranged for the purpose of the dynamic and never final evolution of the knowledge-seeking process, promotes a multidimensional approach of teaching/learning processes that solicits and fosters the activation of forms of thinking with gradually more articulated functions that Lipman unites in the definition of complex thinking (Lipman, 2005).
The latter including the critical-reflective (problematization, conceptualization, reasoning, argumentation), creative-flexible (flexibility, resilience, empathy, collaboration) and caring-design (prediction, planning, caring, value awareness) dimensions is a mode of thinking that the subject experiences by exercising it as a member/learner of CoPR.
In the context of CoPR, in fact, pre-packaged concepts useful for providing definitive and assertive answers to the issues under investigation are neither transferred nor transmitted, but a reflection on the concepts themselves is promoted, which passes through the solicitation of what Freire (1980, 1996) calls conscientization and which, in the context of CoPR takes the form of the opportunity offered to CoPR members to experience themselves as subjects capable of acting reflectively and self-correcting in the context in which they operate with the aim of modifying their attitude by grasping the difference in each individual experience between a before and after inhabiting the research community that evolves from the exercise of a thought that experiences therefore the co-construction of knowledge and awareness of the interconnections that emerge from the actualization of an interdisciplinary vision.
This difference that passes through a process of emancipating the production of judgments that from their primal character of doxa, opening up to the confrontation with the other that restores intersubjectivity (Freire, 2004), acquire the responsibility that follows from the discovery of being able to construct and reconstruct new perspectives on the world, urges the members of CoPR to replace the mode of thinking that separates and reduces with the mode of thinking that distinguishes and connects.
In these terms, P4C, by thus proposing a mode of thought formation based on the configuration of an interdisciplinarity that is open to complexity, thus promotes the evolution of a system of thought that, starting from a provisional scaffolding constituted by the beliefs and values already possessed (Peirce, 2012) arrives, through the dialectical procedure of dialogue and confrontation (Mead, 1934) to a system of thought marked by a cognitive-reflexive equilibrium (Dewey, 1933) capable, in the final analysis, of moving away from a causal and linear logic and adopting a circular logic that resorts to multidimensional and complex explanatory modes indispensable for understanding the epistemological substratum of sustainability.
By activating problematic and self-reflective paths of inquiry within the dialogical and processual dimension of the research community in which thought is allowed to articulate itself in all its variety now critical, now creative, now caring, P4C differs, therefore, from static modes of teaching/learning, aiming rather at the dynamic co-construction of frames of reference that, in the awareness of their necessary incompleteness that requires a continuous procedure of verification and falsification of hypotheses, assertions, points of view, turns to unhinging unambiguous and precise definitions, allowing the solicitation of the use of complex thinking in order to exercise it as a thinking aware of its own assumptions and implications as well as of the reasons and evidence underlying this and/or that conclusion; which thus takes into account its own methodology, procedures, perspectives and different points of view; which prepared to recognize the determinants of preconceptions, prejudices, is thus a thinking capable of asking more radical questions such as those that deep ecology (Naess, 1972) demands and therefore, when prompted by an interdisciplinary approach between knowledge it is a thought capable of incorporating the acquisition of the conceptualization of sustainability that contemplates the interrelatedness of the multidimensionality of the phenomena interconnected with it and, being able to revisit the dominant views of the reductionist system of thought in accordance with the new data awareness to which the science of sustainability refers, is capable of supporting the culture of sustainability of development.
Being able, therefore, to be practiced to facilitate interdisciplinarity by making possible a dynamic, self-renewing and creative link between ways of knowing and reorganizing disciplinary knowledge P4C can thus constitute itself as an innovative and transformative educational practice capable of educating for sustainability and sustaining it by contributing to the formation of a planetary man who no longer elaborates self-centered anthropo-ethics but designs new forms of knowledge open to the surrounding world that he recognizes as his enlarged body and in which, feeling himself to be an integral and essential part (Maturana, Varela, 199), he can and must be enabled to exercise complex thinking which, as urged by P4C, can find its actualization within the very recent European sustainability competence framework (GreenComp, 2022) that precisely for embodying sustainability values; embracing complexity in sustainability; envisioning sustainable futures; recommends the promotion of training in:
1. critical thinking to assess information and arguments, identify assumptions, challenge the status quo, and reflect on how personal, social and cultural backgrounds influence thinking and conclusions; to approach a sustainability problem from all sides; to consider time, space and context in order to understand how elements interact within and between systems; to manage transitions and challenges in complex sustainability situations and make decisions related to the future in the face of uncertainty, ambiguity and risk;
2. caring thinking to acknowledge that humans are part of nature; and to respect the needs and rights of other species and of nature itself in order to restore and regenerate healthy and resilient ecosystems; to reflect on personal values; identify and explain how values vary among people and over time, while critically evaluating how they align with sustainability values;
3. creative thinking to adopt a relational way of thinking by exploring and linking different disciplines, using creativity and experimentation with novel ideas or methods; to envision alternative sustainable futures by imagining and developing alternative scenarios and identifying the steps needed to achieve a preferred sustainable future.
 In the 1970s, Matthew Lipman (1923-2010), together with his collaborators, devised the Philosophy for Children curriculum for its use within formal education settings with the intention of promoting an innovative educational practice useful for learning to think (Lipman, 2005; 2008) and as such cross-curricular and inter-disciplinary. In these terms, its use has also evolved into the declination of Philosophy for Community (http://www.filosofare.org/crif-p4c/ ) Widespread worldwide, P4C now takes on the role of a true cultural movement, of a real educational and training good practice practicable in different areas including, as a topic, that of sustainability for which I refer by way of example to the initiative Summer School Ministry of Education – CRIF (Center for Research on Philosophical Inquiry) 2022: Philosophical Practice, Sustainable Development, Earth Citizenship now in its sixth edition https://www.filosofare.org/crif-p4c/scuola-estiva-ministero-istruzione-crif-2022-pratica-filosofica-sviluppo-sostenibile-cittadinanza-terrestre/ and to the website new-topics https://www.topoineoi.it/ the portal of community philosophical practice: complex thinking, global citizenship, sustainable development.