Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



David Orr (1994) asserts that the ecological crisis is a crisis of education. This study explores the relationship between the ecological crisis and education by examining the role that language plays in shaping perceptions of the natural world. Toward this end it analyzes narratives of science, literature and other disciplines that conceptualize the natural world as object and as subject. It evaluates how particular metaphors used in reference to the natural world enhance or impede ecological understanding and the cultivation of responsibility and stewardship and considers ways in which these conceptualizations might be used as a basis for new curriculum theorizing. In looking at our relationship to Earth, this dissertation explores the notion of intersubjectivity (Abram, 1996) as expressed in philosophical and theoretical writings on participatory consciousness (Berman, 1981, Abram, 1996), empathic fusion (Goizueta, 1995), and bodymind or embodied knowing (Hocking, Haskell, & Linds, 1999). Marginal or in-between spaces emerge from these narratives as important and potentially transformative sites of relationship and meaning making wherein dualities are reconciled and physical and metaphysical realms merge. The implications of these particular findings form the theoretical core of this work's conclusions. This dissertation makes an original contribution to the field of curriculum theory in the following ways: It situates discursive knowledge in the larger context of the natural world, with nature as text and conversation partner in the process of knowledge construction. In dialog with the natural world, it explores new curricular spaces of mystery and spirit. It suggests soil, roots, and mycorrhizae as rich and regenerative metaphors for curriculum theorizing. It highlights the work of the nature writers as a resource for engendering new understandings of the natural world as having voice, identity, and agency, suggests this body of literature as a curricular resource for cultivating ecological understandings, and places this literature in conversation with the field of curriculum theory. Finally, it argues for a both/and dialogic position regarding the notions of local knowledge and metanarrative. In these ways, it seeks to philosophically fund a move away from an ecologically disabling anthropocentrism and toward a greater intimacy with the natural world.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Petra Munro Hendry



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