Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1980
B.S., University of Michigan, 1971
Institute of Ecology, The University of Georgia
Human Ecology, Relational Consciousness, and Pedagogy
For thirty years, as a Penn State researcher and teacher, I have been guided by one overarching question: How can humans live harmoniously with each other and with the sustaining Earth that has birthed us? In the 1980s, it was this question that led me to the Amazon Basin, where I worked as a field ecologist investigating how humans might live in harmony with rainforests without destroying them. This question led me to spearhead the creation of a research institute (IMAZON) in Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon River, with the avowed purpose of educating both policy makers and citizens in ways that would engender stewardship rather than harmful exploitation of Amazonia’s natural wealth.
In the 1990s my commitment to promoting sustainability and ecological awareness led me to examine Penn State’s ecological record. For example, in one study I used “sustainability indicators” to track the performance of Penn State in areas such as water use, energy consumption, waste generation, and recycling efficiency.
A commitment to ecological healing has also permeated my scholarship in the realm of teaching. For example, my book, Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World (Roman and Littlefield, 2004) aims to engender in readers a sense of abiding respect, even reverence, for the natural world, while at the same time offering tools and practices for becoming more awake and alive. My second book, Teaching as if Life Matters: The Promise of a New Education Culture (Johns Hopkins Press, 2011), written in collaboration with Dr. Dana Stuchul, grows out of my deep yearning to create learning environments that expand awareness and engender relational intelligence.
Now, after three decades of research and teaching, I have come to believe that the ecological and social problems confronting humanity can only be addressed through a profound shift in how we see and understand ourselves—a shift in our worldview from “separation consciousness” to “relational consciousness.” Through my teaching, research, and writing I am endeavoring to contribute to this shift.