Widening access to nature and environment studies through open and distance e-learning

Inocencio E Buot Jr. and Larry N Cruz
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Banos, the Philippines

There is ongoing destruction of nature and the environment, and this has been escalating alarmingly. This paper describes how the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), with its open and distance e-learning (ODeL) platform, has widened access to nature and environmental studies through offering non-formal courses on Satoyama and Organic Agriculture online. Satoyama is a traditional socioecological production landscape, which illustrates respect and harmony among the various components of the environment, particularly the social, physical, biological, cultural and politico-economic. People have forgotten about the concept with population pressure and globalization; and in this digital era, there is an urgent need to maximize information-sharing on satoyama through ODeL. But what is satoyama in the 21st century? It is all about the avoidance of harmful farming, fishing and forestry practices to show deep respect and oneness with nature. Organic agriculture and a benign farming and forestry approach should be one of these good practices. Organic agriculture and other similar practices will surely lead to the accomplishment of the satoyama goals and nature conservation. After people had experienced the impact of conventional agriculture on the environment, and the issues brought about by the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides on human health and wellness, a few have started to go back to basics, to live in harmony with nature and go organic. Through its ODeL platform and worldview, the UP Open University will play a critical role in inculcating the concept of this traditional rural landscape, bringing about social transformation and subsequent environmental rehabilitation.