Life Writing for Sustainability Education


  • Nathan Stewart Hensley School of Earth, Environment, & Society; Bowling Green State University


Transformative education, Autoethnography, Curriculum Theory, The Environmental Humanities, Sustainability Studies, Sense of Place, Sense of Community, Sense of Self


This paper argues that in order to address wicked sustainability problems, such as climate change and rapid biodiversity loss, it is necessary to draw from the humanities and use methods of inquiry such as life writing. The humanities provide a way to "thicken" knowledge by adding layers of meaning and significance to our understanding of reality, while life writing allows for reflection on one's own sustainability journey. A sense of place is discussed as a vital component of sustainability education and revitalization because it provides a framework for understanding and addressing environmental issues in a way that is grounded in local culture. A sense of community is also discussed as a feeling of belonging and connection that individuals have to their local area and its people and resources. The paper also emphasizes the importance of stories and life writing in understanding the interconnectivity and interdependence that is inherent to human, ecological, and eco-social systems. It concludes by suggesting that we must move away from the traditional model of economic development that relies on the extraction and consumption of natural resources and instead embrace regenerative, sustainable, and life-giving modes of scholarship and teaching.