Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

Learning about the emotional lives of kangaroos, cognitive justice and environmental sustainability

Steve Garlick, Rosemary Austen


This paper reports on research into wildlife emotion, interpretation and usefulness as a means for broad-scale learning about environmental sustainability. Part of the Australian landscape for 16 million years, the iconic kangaroo has characteristics that make them suited, as wild animals, for humans to learn about environmental integrity. A ‘new way of knowing’ about sustainability is proposed that seeks to learn directly from wildlife through their emotional states using a ‘being-for’ (Bauman 1995), relational (Derrida 2002), ethic of care (Donovan 1996, Noddings 1984, Kheel 2008). Within the context of cognitive justice we propose wildlife knowledge systems that need to be respected. We incorporate recent research on affective neuroscience in mammals (Panksepp 1998 and 2004) into our own work in rehabilitating large numbers of seriously injured kangaroos prior to their release/return to the wild (Garlick and Austen 2010). This work enables identifying and interpreting emotion markers in various environmental contexts and their consequent sustainability. Progressing from a case example of learning through a particular transformational animal encounter, to where an entire community might be similarly transformed to address sustainability questions is possible to conceptualise through the ‘ecoversity’. 


Relational ethics; affective neuroscience; ethic of care; environmental sustainability; kangaroos; ecoversity; cognitive justice; wildlife emotion; forms of togetherness; animal knowledge system

Full Text:



Bauman, Zygmunt. 1995. Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Callicott, John Baird. 1987. “The land aesthetic.” In Companion to A Sand County Almanac: Interpretative and Critical Essays. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Clements, Reuben, Corey Bradshaw, Barry Brook, and William Laurance. 2011. “The SAFE index: using a threshold population target to measure relative species threat”. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9 (9): 521–525. doi: 10.1890/100177.

Cunha, Flavio and James Heckman. 2007. “The Technology of Skill Formation.” American Economic Review 97(2): 31-47. Doi: 10.1257/aer.97.2.31.

Derrida, Jacques. 2002. “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)”. Translated by D.Wills. Critical Inquiry 28(2): 369-418.

Donovan, Josephine. 1996. “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” In Beyond Animal Rights: A feminist caring ethic for the treatment of animals, edited by Josephine Donovan and Carol J. Adams, 34-59. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company.

Garlick, Steve, and Victoria J. Palmer. 2008. “Toward an Ideal Relational Ethic: Rethinking university-community engagement.” Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement 1: 73-89.

Garlick, Steve, and Julie Matthews. 2009. “Beyond the divide: University and community engagement, wildlife and relational ethics.” The Australasian Journal of University Community Engagement 2(2): 5-17.

Garlick, Steve, Julie Matthews, and Jennifer Carter. 2009. “Countering Brutality to Wildlife, Relationism and Ethics: Conservation, Welfare and the ‘Ecoversity’.” Animals 1(1): 161-175. Doi: 10.3390/ani1010161.

Garlick, Steve and Rosemary Austen. 2010. “Kangaroo translocation: Program efficiency and welfare goals.” National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference. Last modified June, 2010. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://destinationaustralia-nothanks.com/Good_News_files/RelocationPaper-sm.pdf.

Garlick, Steve. 2011. “Ability matters: Space, neuroscience, capability and the university.” European Week of Regions and Cities Open Days Brussels. Last modified 2011. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/od2011/Open-Days-FTP-2011/docs/241-11UNIV01-11UNIV01_-_Garlick_Steve_PPT_UPDATE.ppt.

Garlick, Steve. 2012. “Learning from wildlife emotion: A lacuna in our knowledge of environmental sustainability”. In Sustainability Frontiers: Critical and Transformative Voices from the Borderlands of Sustainability Education, edited by David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa, chapter 13. Leverkusen Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Kheel, Marti. 1985. “The Liberation of Nature: A circular affair.” Environmental Ethics 7(2): 135-149. Doi: 10.5840/enviroethics19857223.

Kheel, Marti. 2008. Nature Ethics: An ecofeminist perspective. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Leopold, Aldo.1968. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. New York: Oxford University Press.

Low, Philip et al. 2012. The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. Last modified July 7, 2012. Accessed March 9, 2014. http://fcmconference.org/img/cambridgedeclarationonconsciousness.pdf.

Matthews, Julie, Steve Garlick, and Timothy F. Smith. 2009. “Ecoversity: Towards a Sustainable Future.” The Journal of the World Universities Forum 2(3): 113-124.

Matthews, Julie, Steve Garlick. 2012. “The role of the university in a world in crisis: Environmental sustainability and the ecoversity”. In Inside the New University: Prerequisites for a contemporary knowledge production, edited by Kristina Johansson, Göran Lassbo, and Eddy Nehls, 147-161. Bentham Science Publishers. Oak Park Illinois: Bentham Science Publishers.

Noddings, Nel. 1984. Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Noddings, Nel. 2002. Starting at Home. Caring and social policy. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nussbaum, Martha C. 2003. “Beyond the social contract: Towards global justice.” The Tanner Lectures of Human Values, Canberra, ANU, Last modified November 13, 2003. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://tannerlectures.utah.edu/_documents/a-to-z/n/nussbaum_2003.pdf

Nussbaum, Martha C. 2011. Creating Capabilities: The human development approach. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Odora Hoppers, Catherine. 2009. “Education, culture and society in a globalizing world: implications for comparative and international education.” Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 39(5): 601–614.

Orr, David W. 1992. Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World. Albany, NY: Suny Press.

Panksepp, Jaak. 1998. Affective neuroscience, the foundations of human and animal emotions. London: Oxford University Press.

Panksepp, Jaak. 2004. “Affective consciousness: Core emotional feelings in humans and animals.” Consciousness and Cognition, 14(1): 30-80. Doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2004.10.004.

Plumwood, Val. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. New York: Routledge.

Plumwood, Val. 2007. “Human exceptionalism and the limitations of animals: a review of Raymond Gaita’s The Philosopher’s Dog.” Australian Humanities Review 42. Last modified August, 2007. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-August-2007/EcoHumanities/Plumwood.html.

Regan, Tom. 1983. The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley: University of California Press.

SARChi Retreat. 2012. “Cognitive Justice and the African and Global Commons.” Pascal International Obeservatory. Last modified November 29, 2009. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://pascalobservatory.org/pascalnow/pascal-activities/news/cognitive-justice-and-african-and-global-commons-unisa-retreat.

Sacks, Arthur B. 2008. “The University and Sustainability: New Directions in Science, Technology and Culture.” Journal of the World Universities Forum 1(2): 93-100.

Sen, Amartya.1985. Commodities and capabilities. Oxfordshire, UK: Elsevier Science Ltd.

Singer, Peter. 1979. Practical Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sterling, Stephen. 2004. “Higher education, sustainability, and the role of systemic learning: Higher education and the challenge of sustainability”. In Higher Education and the Challenge of Sustainability: Problematics, Promise and Practice, edited by Peter Blaze Corcoran and Arjen E. J. Wals, 49-70. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Doi: 10.1007/0-306-48515-X_5.

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, ed. 2007. Cognitive Justice in a Global World: Prudent Knowledges for a Decent Life. Lanham: Lexington.

Visvanathan, Shiv. 1997. A Carnival for Science: Essays on science, technology and development. London: Oxford University Press.

Visvanathan, Shiv. 2002. “The future of science studies.” Futures 34(1): 91-101. Doi: 10.1016/S0016-3287(01)00037-4.

Visvanathan, Shiv. 2009. “The search for cognitive justice.” Seminar. Last modified May, 2009. Accessed May 9, 2013. http://www.india-seminar.com/2009/597/597_shiv_visvanathan.htm.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2014-001-garl

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo