Date of Award

Spring 2001

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Paul Brockelman


We are facing unprecedented environmental challenges as we enter the new millennium as human choices and practices have repeatedly led to environmental degradation. Increasingly there are individuals and groups seeking to address this environmental crisis and move toward more sustainable patterns of living. But in order to make alternative choices it will be essential to draw upon the wealth and variety of human capabilities.

For nearly 350 years Western culture has looked to reason and rationality to provide truth and direction. The affective side of being human, feelings, intuition, love, care, wonder, mystery and hope have largely been devalued. In order to pursue more sustainable and holistic ways of living it will be essential to reclaim these additional human qualities as key resources for the future.

The research for this thesis was undertaken within three sustainable communities in Europe. Because of their commitment to living more holistically their educational and spiritual practices yield timely information for others who desire to move toward sustainability. Within all three communities emphasis is placed upon deepening the quality and authenticity of human relationships with nature, self, others and mystery. Such commitment may have profound impact on other learning communities as they seek to embody more holistic practices. By reclaiming and revaluing human capacities to care and connect, as well as cultivating spiritualities rooted in wonder and the miracle of being, we may yet discover the capacity to create patterns of living and being that will promote a sustainable future.