Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Would-be Environmental Accountant meets Mother Nature in a Pub: A Dialogue

By Guest Blogger Dr Jack Christian

Life is full of coincidences.  For years, I have been aware that I operate from a different worldview or metatheory than probably most other attendees at the annual CSEAR conferences.  At last week’s conference, I began to wonder how many other people might feel the same, so I asked Colin Dey (editor of the CSEAR blog) if I could publish this dialogue via the blog.  It is actually taken straight from my PhD thesis.  It is one of the chapters in fact.  My PhD was effectively an investigation into the worldviews of people who, in some way or another, account for nature.  My aim in putting it on the blog is to show how my own worldview has been/is being constructed, and maybe get some response about why others choose to work in the SEA paradigm.

The coincidence is that in the last session of the conference, Rob Gray spoke about the various worldviews held by CSEAR attendees, and his concern that these worldviews are never made explicit.  He saw this as a problem, if we did not fully understand each other we could not work together to achieve our generally shared goals.

My hope in attaching my dialogue to the CSEAR blog is that it will encourage others to investigate and share their own worldviews and make for greater understanding among our community.

The whole dialogue is quite long (20,000 words) - however, it is made up of five Acts and so it is possible to dip into each one individually.  Each Act is shown separately on my own blog, the first of which can be found at https://jackchristian4sl.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/would-be-environmental-accountant-meets-mother-nature-in-a-pub-a-dialogue-act-one/.  I also list the writers and thinkers who helped me build my worldview in my blog.


Mother Nature                                                   Mr Commerce
Professor Science                                              Religious Man
Young Englishman                                             Soren Kierkegaard
Martin Heidegger                                             Unidentified Frenchman
Librarian Lady                                                  Young German
Carl Gustav Jung                                              Friederich Nietzsche
Psychologist Lady                                             Ecopsychologist
Arne Naess                                                        The Romantic
Michel Foucault                                                American Academic 1
American Academic 2                                       Geographern the CSEAR 
Sociologist                                                        Policy Maker
Angry Voice                                                       Reconciliatory Voice


Our hero, an ex-management accountant, has recently read stories of environmental management accounting and despite many years in the field of management accounting he has never heard of, let alone witnessed, this phenomenon.  He is now on a journey to find what people mean when they refer to accounting and to the environment and, indeed, what he means.

In the course of this journey he now finds himself in a large dimly-lit hostelry which has one large reception lounge in which guests can congregate.  It is an ‘Open-Mic’ night with a ‘Nature’ theme. Would be minstrels are playing songs, reciting poetry and telling tales.  A fire burns in a hearth to the side of the bar, away from the bar and the hearth the room gets progressively darker.  In the darkness there are an indistinguishable but seemingly large number of tables, most of which are occupied.  


Act One - Who am I and what can I know?
Act Two - Deep ecology and belief systems
Act Three - Exploring the limitations of science
Act Four - Knocking at the foundations of capitalism
Act Five - The nature of nature