The Pedagogy of Degrowth: Teaching Hispanic Studies in the Age of Social Inequality and Ecological Collapse

Transforming education is crucial to generate a society able to deal with the complex socio-environmental challenges of the Anthropocene. In the current context of unacceptable inequality and ecological collapse we cannot continue teaching as if we were not losing from 40 to 200 species a day. Based on my experience as a professor teaching courses on Environmental Humanities and Hispanic Studies, the main challenge I face is guiding students toward unlearning ingrained commonplaces about economic growth, technology or progress. Only after such unlearning occurs can the floor be opened to deep critical discussions about posthuman environmental ethics and alternatives to growth that are socially desirable and environmentally sustainable. This essay elaborates on three aspects of my pedagogy of degrowth: (1) a strategy that I call “unlearning by reversed critical pedagogy”; (2) a meta-pedagogical critique of existing teaching materials and contents within the traditional Hispanic Studies curriculum, since they focus mostly on symptoms rather than root causes and thus perpetuate learned ignorance; and (3) the incorporation of indigenous pedagogies from the Andes. As a result the classroom becomes a dynamic community of (un)learning where students’ innovation and creativity is used to analyze current Hispanic socioecological problems and to imagine just post-carbon societies.