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Patrick Dillon

My research is in cultural ecology. I am concerned with interactions between people and their environments which give rise to generative, transactional, relational and co-constitutional ways of knowing and being. We shape and are shaped by our environments: nature and culture, mind and body are inseparable.

Dillon1The mandorla is the almond shape formed at the intersection of two circles. I use it as a visual metaphor for my work in cultural ecology. There is a constant interplay between our immediate experiences and how we know the world. The three arrows arranged as a triangle in the left hand circle represent our immediate experiences. The moment we experience something we make connections with what we already know and feel, the relational constructs and emotions that define our personal history. The three arrows arranged as an enclosed star in the right hand circle represent how we know the world. The mandorla reflects how experience and understanding are constantly reforming each other.

My photography is a manifestation of my cultural ecological word view. I photograph abstract images that catch my attention. These images evoke relational shapes, forms and feelings. This is abstraction emerging in the mandorla; the experience of the moment shaping and being shaped by our understanding of the world, the interconnectedness represented in the intersection of the two circles.


Education, qualifications and awards

  • 2009
    • Elected Fellow of the Society of Biology; Chartered Biologist 1984; Member 1981.
  • 2004
    • DPhil (honoris causa), University of Joensuu, Finland.
  • 1990
    • PhD in Economic History, University of Exeter, UK.
  • 1981
    • Elected Fellow of Linnean Society of London.
  • 1975
    • Bachelor of Education with Honours in Biological Science.

Current positions

  • Since 2010
    • Visiting Professor (part-time), Faculty of Philosophy, University of Eastern Finland.
  • Since 2005
    • Emeritus Professor, College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter.
  • Since 2005
    • Adjunct Professor in Applied Sciences in Education, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Selected publications

  • Dillon, P. 2016. Making and its cultural ecological foundations, in S. Walker, J. Jung, M. Evans, T. Cassidy & A. Twigger Holroyd (Eds) Design Roots: Local Products and Practices in a Globalized World, London, Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Kokko, S. and Dillon, P. 2016. Engaging trainee teachers with crafts and cultural heritage, International Journal of Education through Art, 12 (1), 21–37.
  • Mayer, M., Dillon, P. 2016. Evaluating education for sustainable development programmes consistently with education for sustainable development values: a challenge for evaluators. pp. 242-256 in Lambrechts, W., Hindson, J. (eds.), Research and Innovation in Education for Sustainable Development. Exploring collaborative networks, critical characteristics and evaluation practices. Environment and School Initiatives - ENSI, ZVR-Zahl 408619713, Vienna, Austria.
  • Dillon, P. 2015. Education for sustainable development in a cultural ecological frame, pp. 630-643 in R. Jucker & R. Mathar (Eds), Schooling for sustainable development. A focus on Europe, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Springer.
  • Dillon, P., Vesala, P. & Montero, C.S. 2015. Young people’s emotional engagement with their school grounds expressed through colour, symbol and lexical associations. A Finnish-British comparative study, Children’s Geographies, 13 (5), 518-536.
  • Dillon, P., Bayliss, P. & Bayliss, L. 2013. Turn left for Murmansk: ‘Fourth World’ transculturalism and its cultural ecological framing, Barents Studies, 1, 97-110.
  • Dillon, P., Gross, P., Irvine, R., Price, P. & Staddon, C. 2012. Thinking like a wetland, Journal of Arts and Communities, 4 (1&2), 100-126.
  • Dillon, P. 2012. Framing craft practice cultural ecologically: tradition, change and emerging agendas, pp. 72-78 in M. Ferris, (Ed), Making Futures: The Crafts as Change-maker in Sustainably Aware Cultures, Plymouth, UK, Plymouth College of Arts.
  • Kokko, S. & Dillon, P. 2010. Crafts and craft education as expressions of cultural heritage. Individual experiences  and collective values amongst an international group of women university students, International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 20 (4).
  • Bayliss, P. & Dillon, P. 2010. Cosmologies and lifestyles: a cultural ecological framework and its implications for education systems, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 19 (2) 7-21.
  • Dillon, P., Bayliss, P., Stolpe, I.  & Bayliss, L. 2008. What constitutes ‘context’ in sociocultural research. How the Mongolian experience challenges theory, Transtext(e)sTranscultures, 4, 18-31.
  • Dillon, P. & Loi, D. 2008. Adaptive educational environments: theoretical developments and educational applications, UNESCO Observatory Refereed E-Journal, 3.
  • Dillon, P. 2008. A pedagogy of connection and boundary crossings. Methodological and epistemological transactions in working across and between disciplines, Innovations in Teaching and Education International, 45 (3), 255-262.
  • Dillon, P. 2008. Creativity, wisdom and trusteeship – niches of cultural production, pp.105-118 in A. Craft, H. Gardner & G. Claxton (Eds). Creativity and Wisdom in Education. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.
  • Dillon, P. & Howe, T. 2007. An epistemology of presence and reconceptualisation in design education, Interchange, 38 (1), 69-88.
  • Dillon, P. 2006. Creativity, integrativism and a pedagogy of connection, International Journal of Thinking Skills and Creativity, 1 (2), 69-83.
  • Loi, D. and Dillon, P. 2006. Adaptive educational environments as creative spaces, Cambridge Journal of Education, 36 (3), 363-381.
  • Dillon, P., Prosser, D. and Howe, T. 2004. Design transactions in educational multimedia, The Design Journal, 7 (2), 54-63.
  • Dillon, P. and Prosser, D. 2003. Educational transactions in museum open learning environments, International Journal on e-Learning, 2 (1), 14-20.
  • Dillon, P. and Howe. T. 2003. Design as narrative: objects, stories and negotiated meaning. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 22 (3), 291-298.
  • Howe, T. and Dillon, P. 2001. Cultural niche and the contexts of craft, design and fine art, The Design Journal, 4 (3), 50-57.

Recent consultancies & international activities

  • 2015 – ongoing
    • Member of Philosophy and Law Sub-Group of the University of the Arctic.
  • 2012 – ongoing
    • Member of Editorial Board, Studia Vernacula.
  • 2011 - ongoing
    • Consultant, NatureGate Online Services Ltd, Finland.
  • 2006 - ongoing
    • Member of Advisory Board, Design Principles and Practices Journal.
  • 2002 - ongoing
    • Member of Editorial Board, Technology, Pedagogy and Education.
  • 2011- 2014
    • Consultant, CoDeS (Community-based School Development for Sustainability Network), European Union Comenius Programme.
  • 2010-2013
    • Visiting Research Fellow, PLaCE (Place, Location, Context and Environment) Research Centre, University of the West of England.
  • 2009-2011
    • Consultant, Colour Urban Design Limited, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • 2008-2011
    • Creative Agent, Arts Council of England Schools of Creativity Programme.
  • 2008
    • Consultant, FISTE (A Future Way for In-Service Teaching Training across Europe) Project, European Union Comenius Programme.
  • 2007-2008
    • Member of European Union Director General for Education and Culture Outreach team for professional development of teachers in rural Mongolia.
  • 2006-2013
    • Visiting Professor of Cultural Education, Finnish Foundation for Environmental Education.
  • 2006-2007
    • Researcher, Arts Council of England Creative Partnerships.
  • 2004-2006
    • Co-convenor, UK Economic and Social Research Council Teaching and Learning Research Programme ICT Thematic Group.
  • 2004-2006
    • Member of UK British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, DEMOS, National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts, and Futurelab, Working Party on Personalised Learning.