an official journal of: published by:
an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Jutta Gutberlet - Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Isabella de Carvalho Vallin - Postgraduate Programme in Environmental Science, Institute of Energy and Environment, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Copyright: © 2023 CISA Publisher


UNICATA is a university for and with waste pickers based on Paulo Freire's popular education pedagogy, knowledge democracy and the practice of peer learning. The aim is to create a learning space of excellence where one can dream, dare, innovate, and be inspired by transformative ideas and achievements. This university will increase access to knowledge and expand the possibilities for reflection, for a population that suffers from social exclusion and high vulnerability. Worldwide waste pickers are major protagonists in collecting, separating, and redirecting recyclable materials into the circular economy. Research demonstrates that waste pickers are central figures in educating households on waste separation practices, adding value to recovered materials, building community by integrating socially excluded individuals into their collective workspaces, indirectly also mitigating environmental and climate impacts. While these positive effects of inclusive recycling are increasingly recognized in the academic literature, unfair remuneration, stigmatization, and risk-prone or unhealthy working conditions are still the prevailing realities. This paper discusses reflections on recent experiences of implementing UNICATA in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2023, with a pilot project developing and delivering the introductory module which was successfully completed by 22 students. The research takes a social constructivist lens to uncover the colonial social and political injustices through experiential and student-centered education. Our results reveal some noticeable assets and barriers in creating inclusive education for a large population that is widely neglected, in many different geographic contexts, thus also filling a gap towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Editorial History

  • Received: 27 Nov 2023
  • Revised: 02 Feb 2024
  • Accepted: 11 Mar 2024
  • Available online: 20 Mar 2024


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