Cultural Ecology Great idea
Definition Managing resources to improve livelihoods Managing resources for environmental sustainability
One Future
Living within environmental limits
Respecting the limits of the planet's environment, resources and biodiversity- to  improve our environment and ensure that the natural resources needed for life are  unimpaired and remain so for future generations
Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society 
Meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities,  promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal  opportunities for all
In Mahatma Gandhi’s words:
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
'Sea Captains Houses' overlooking the old saltmarsh of Cardiff Bay
1 Need for new subjects
Education for sustainability is a challenge and a struggle to cut across traditional divisions created in the West to support a culture based on the exploitation of limitless natural resources. in particular, a new interdisciplinary logic of environmental management is needed to maintain the flows of limited resources. It is not adequate to simply incorporate environmentalism as a perspective within existing subjects. Ecology is the central focus for environmental management of the non-human (natural) habitats from which we draw biological and physical resources to feed our  technologies. However, environmental management is a complex phenomena, which involves not  just non-human habitats but also human subjectivity, and social relations, all of which are  intimately interconnected. Cultural ecology brings these three 'ecologies' together as a provisional  mind map to connect the natural environment with self and society.
Often, critical work on our profligate use of planet Earth's resources emerges as a series of  interventions into established disciplines and practices. This reveals a fundamental need to  assemble new knowledge systems which deal with the future of our species as one ecological  community boxed into a relatively small niche in evolution.
This is evident in the trend to expand the boundaries of subject divisions.  For example, arising  from the great diversity of modern approaches to archaeology has come the need to develop a  theory of persons within a more general theory of organisms and environment.  Similarly, metallurgy includes a view of household waste as a new 'ore' to maintain a supply of scarce materials.  These trends point the way to a general educational framework that would link together subjects in a common knowledge system of human life, consciousness and environment. This would be a form of cross- disciplinary systems thinking, where social, economic and material concepts are regarded as being embedded in ecological relations.  The aim is to help build theoretical and practical bridges with the practical aim of facilitating cultural change to sustain the  human condition as a global society. Cultural ecology joins up practical approaches, from many starting points, for managing the environment in an overcrowded world. There is no single cultural ecology syllabus because each person has their own predilection and passion for a particular set of guiding principles and  concepts.  The mindmap presented here is a provisional attempt of one group of people in Wales to produce a global picture where environmental management is the bridge between mass production and conservation.
2 Principles
  • information is presented as an integrated collection of topics that defines the points of balance  between conservation managementand exploitative management.
  • living sustainably requires the production and circulation of new ecological meanings and values.
  • environmental management should be at the centre to help young people claim a right to see  the past differently.
  • human history is a continuous process of reinterpretation and transformation of the environment.
  • the past has to be reconstructed, not only to recover traditions which have been  misrepresented or rendered invisible, but to search for meanings and images which prefigure  current concerns about the environment. 
  • we are part of nature and every social action, idea, and rule has appeared in the context of  many millennia of primate evolution through natural selection.
  • material conditions are not only determined by a combination of environment and technology.  They arise and persist through cultural learning of values applied to resources.
3 Economic perspective
Cultural ecology centres on cultural-economic and cultural materialist approaches to environment.
Cultural-economic views stress how value is created through the exchange of goods and services.  Cultural- materialist approaches extend this to consider the expression of environmental values as symbols, such as sacred lands. These symbols are the educational currency for establishing social obligations to selected elements of nature as part of a social feed-back system to legitimise ecosystems that have been embodied with meaning.
4 Origins has its origins in the Faculty of Science at Cardiff during the early 1970s where new cross- disciplinary degrees were created to redirect academic trajectories towards ecocentrism.
It was given a boost by the University of Cambridge Examination Syndicate in the 1980s, where it was assembled as a new GCE subject natural economy, and developed as a model for world development education with a grant from the Directorate General of the EC.    This was delivered for evaluation in the pioneering experiments with the European schools OLYMPUS satellite education programme.
In the late 1990s where the topic framework was consolidated around environmental management  as part of the LIFE Environment programme.
Current developments are being made by the UK Conservation Management System Consortium in partnership with organisations concerned with bringing environmental management to the centre of education for sustainability at all levels.
The project is part of a wider online mixture of educational resources about sustainability knowledge organised to manage the environment responsibly.
Denis Bellamy (1999)
University of Wales Professor Emeritus of Zoology, 
Department of Biodiversity and Systematic Biology, 
National Museum, Cardiff
The Cultural Ecology knowledge framework is now being promoted and developed by RESILIENCE-UK