The Commission

“…the real challenge and barrier to change is how to ‘socially construct’ a personal- to civilizational-scale transition to a whole new cultural narrative, one that eschews perpetual growth and abandons most of the other beliefs, values and assumptions of modern techno-industrial society concerning long-term human well-being. Any takers for the job?” Bill Rees [1] My …

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Consequentiality for Reality: Connecting the Dots

Causes have effects; effects become causes. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. From west to east, from science to spirituality—on some level we all get this basic principle. But for most of us living in modern techno-industrial (MTI) societies, it can be hard to really know this, to deeply feel and …

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Conceptuality for Reality: Languaging Ourselves into a New Way of Being

“I broke my arm.” In English, we can say weird things like this. In many languages, however, “you couldn’t use that construction unless you are a lunatic,” says cognitive scientist, Lera Boroditsky in her popular TED talk, How Language Shapes the Way We Think. Language has consequences beyond just how we say things. It influences …

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Mentality for Reality: Re-Thinking “Human-Environment Relations”

To say that humans are part of a larger environment is a very banal observation. Or more accurately, “it would be a banal observation if so many people did not constantly fail to register this simple state of affairs,” as Norbert Elias observed about the idea that individuals are part of a larger social whole …

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Positionality for Reality: Getting Ourselves Oriented

Orientation refers to the relative position of something or someone. To be properly oriented in the world of ordinary reality, then, is to have a sound sense of where you fit in the bigger picture relative to other beings, objects, and processes. Proper orientation is essential for being able to move in one’s intended direction. …

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Radicality for Reality: Introduction to a Series

Striking at the root of our socio-environmental crises Tempted by visions of juicy ripe strawberries this past spring, my family decided it was worth the effort to rescue our neglected berry patch from the thistle, dock, and other plants threatening to overrun it. As my daughter set out to weed, I offered a shovel, suggesting …

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3 Fundamental Challenges to Teaching Environmental Studies and How to Overcome Them* (Part 3)

Part 3 of 3: Problematic Paradigms Picture it. You’re reading about some gnarly socio-environmental problem — its origin story, what’ll happen if we fail to act, the suite of changes the situation demands. You feel yourself getting fired up, compelled to do something: join forces, right wrongs, turn the tide. Things crescendo. You anticipate a big finish. …

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3 Fundamental Challenges to Teaching Environmental Studies and How to Overcome Them* (Part 2)

Part 2 of 3: Poor Understanding of Social Change What if I asked you to envision what a “better,” more “sustainable” society looks like. What do you see? Now imagine asking your students that question. What do they say? The book Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future catalogs a long list of qualities global thought …

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3 Fundamental Challenges to Teaching Environmental Studies, and How to Overcome Them* (Part 1)

Part 1 of 3: Information Overwhelm The fall semester is well underway. If you’re teaching an intro to environmental studies or sciences course (or any course dealing with interdisciplinary social and environmental issues*), then it’s likely that the optimistic sky’s-the-limit vision you enjoyed during the planning stages — possible even during a pandemic! — has given way to the …

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