Ecothinking the University: Paradigms for Sustainable Education
Drawing from the work of Thomas Berry, Gary Snyder, and C. A. Bowers, this paper argues that ecothinking — thinking about our intellectual life as well as physical activities in ecological terms — offers an important heuristic for reconceptualizing curriculum and rethinking the paradigms of individual disciplines. In Education, ecothinking challenges fundamental assumptions about autonomous learners and learning, intelligence as detachable from its social and physical context, and civic preparation that does not include environmental awareness. In Health Care education, ecothinking requires one to look beyond individual wellness to the ways in which a toxic environment — whether social, emotional, or physical — contributes to illness, and the responsibility of health care professionals to address that environment. For Business, ecothinking makes sustainability the new measure of economic success, while for the Humanities, ecothinking stresses a re-engagement with the real world, as well as its representations, and provides a renewed justification for studying the past as well as nurturing the creative and visual arts. Above all, ecothinking provide a new rationale for fostering the imaginative life throughout the curriculum — for cultivating the "wild" within in order to better value and foster the "wild" around us.
Keywords: Ecothinking, Educational paradigms, Thomas Berry, Ecological models for education, Sustainable education
Prof. Paul Lizotte
Professor of English, Department of English and Communications, Rivier College