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The paper linked below, “We Ain’t Got No Wildlife Here”: Transformative Effects of a Contemplative Assignment in Ecoliteracy, was one of three chosen by Naropa University in response to President Obama’s campus challenge. Naropa chose to specifically focus on Contemplative Education and Ecological Sustainability, “in order to challenge ourselves to bring a contemplative perspective to service in the ecological sustainability sectors.”
As I had just moved to the area when the call came out, upon reading my proposal, Dr. Burggraf and committee allowed me to waive the requirement of co-authorship with a community partner. I was grateful to be able to participate anyway – and I dearly wish to have such partners in future.
Fast forward to May: last week, the authors presented our final papers as a panel. Anne Parker & Mark Wilding illustrated ways to engage adolescents and young adults in “Transformative Learning and Sustainability.” Sherry Ellms & Leila Bruno described how the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium is “Nurturing a Culture of Possibilities.” With each encounter at Naropa, I feel even more impressed by the depth of my new colleagues’ wisdom and heartful caring for the world.
The Green Papers will be made available on Naropa University’s website sometime later this summer, but my students have graciously asked to read mine now. So here it is, out in the world already like an early crocus peeking through the snow. As the Spring semester is winding down and they find themselves without any formal reading assignments, the void looms. ;-) I hope you enjoy this paper, or that it at least helps fend off any grad school withdrawal symptoms.
Click on the link for a PDF:
“We Ain’t Got No Wildlife Here”:
Transformative Effects of a Contemplative Assignment in Ecoliteracy
by Tina R. Fields, Ph.D.
If you’re wondering what you’d be getting into, here’s the trailer. The paper itself is much more fun to read than the Abstract. It centers on a story!
: This paper describes a college assignment intended to foster ecoliteracy in social science students. The inclusion of a contemplative component conducted over time outdoors has repeatedly resulted in not only cognitive knowledge about the denizens and processes of a given place, but has transformed students’ relationships with the more-than-human natural world to a much deeper relational gnosis and comfort level. Excerpts from one inner-city student’s journal are presented (with permission) as a case study, and elements contributing to the assignment are discussed.
Feel free to engage with me via the “Comments” box below. I look forward to hearing your responses to this work.
A deep bow to Naropa University for choosing this paper, and to former colleagues/forever friends Nicky Duenkel and Judy Pratt for generously giving me feedback for improving it.