Chapter Two: Ecological Literacy

This chapter presents a brief history of ecology, holistic science and systems theory. It describes the relevance of ecological epistemologies and critical ecopedagogy. It also proposes typologies of ecological literacy and describes the difference between sustainability vs. ecological literacy. Chapter Two, titled ‘Ecological Literacy‘, is now published here.

Ecological literacy describes ecology as the dominant root metaphor for a culture that is capable of thinking in terms of whole systems. The ambitious aim of ecological literacy is to create the frame of mind that recognizes embeddedness within the ecological systems and thereby organizes cultural, political, legal and economic systems accordingly. As examined in the previous chapter, we have inherited a highly reductive intellectual tradition and worldview characterized by atomism, mechanism, anthropocentrism, rationalism, individualism and a dualistic tradition between humanity vs nature. This radical discontinuity with nature constitutes an error in understanding that is reproduced in education, media, communication, politics and law resulting in industrial systems that are quietly destroying the ecological systems on which humankind depends. Acknowledgement of geophysical relationships is a foundational step toward transforming learning and cultural priorities and making sustainability possible. This chapter will examine how ecological literacy envelops the tradition of modernity into a more inclusive and ultimately a more functional worldview. This chapter provides a brief overview of the historical development of ecological literacy and offers a new typology of ecological literacy. It will end with an examination of the relationship between ecological literacy and the overused, abused and ambiguous term ‘sustainability’.


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