Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The human species and all nonhuman forms on the planet, have co-evolved over a 14 billion-year process, yet many people operate as if planetary life existed to support and sustain human well-being alone. Separation, dualism, and power-over ways of knowing fuel a human-centered attitude which exalts our own species above the rest of the natural world. How humans will live with the earth in the next millennium (Hogan, 1996) is one of the most fundamental questions arising at the onset of the year 2000. The planet cannot sustain continued degradation of ecological systems stemming from depletion of natural resources and exponential growth of the human population. Simultaneously, personal and social alienation are pervasive, manifesting in forms such as the "decay...of inner cities, insensate violence, various addictions, rising public debt, and the destruction of nature" (Orr, 1994, p. 51). Both ecological crises and problems of the human spirit, I propose, are based in an epistemological tendency toward separation. Patriarchal thinking, characterized by power-over models of hierarchal relations, constitutes a way of knowing that manifests in anthropocentric and androcentric practices such as the twin oppressions of sexism and naturism (Warren, 1993). Only when we've exposed our knowing for its problematic assumptions, will we be able to move toward beliefs and practices that support more holistic and ecologically sustainable ways of life (Bowers, 1995). This work brings the vital issue of humans' ethical responsibilities toward the earth into the center of critical debate. Education is a viable medium through which to mediate ecological imbalances between the human species and the natural world and also to deepen and enrich the human experience by foregrounding the sacred character of human-earth relations. My project draws on the work of ecofeminists, deep ecologists, and process theorists to articulate an ecospiritual ethic/praxis for curriculum theory based on the principles of interdependence, justice and ecological sustainability. An ecological vision of education based on relationality promises to foster within children a broadened, deepened sense of their connection within the matrix of all living things.
Riley, Elaine Kent, ""Awakenings" on Relational Ways of Knowing: an Ecological Perspective on Curriculum." (2000). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 7165.