Date of Award

Spring 2005

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

John Carroll


Ecology is the science that studies the function of communities of life within ecosystems. These systems are bound by an affirmation of relationship. Such relationships are very complex and every part of them is dependent on every other part if they are to maintain the integrity of nature that allows us all to survive.

The adoption of the four principles of ecology: everything is connected to everything else; everything has to go somewhere; nature knows best; and there is no such thing as a free lunch---have been suggested to ensure the survival of all species. However, knowledge of scientific findings of both environmental problems and lasting solutions has had little impact on the way humans conduct their lives. Instituting an ecological consciousness will require a change in the values we commit to and the lens of ethics we apply to situations. Through a comprehensive literature review and a series of interviews with experts from the fields of ecology, theology, and ethics this dissertation will determine: (1) What is the core of ecological thought? (2) Are the principles of the Beatitudes applicable to the issues of ecology? (3) Can these principles induce a spiritual/behavioral paradigm shift sufficient to make a lasting and positive impact on the life of the universe?