UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education for voluntary simplicity : toward sustainable and creative ways of life through an eastern idea of living-learning Komori, Shin-ichi


The purpose of this study is to contribute to a sound theoretical framework for educational initiatives that would enable us to transform our current consumer-oriented lifestyles into ways of life that are not only ecologically and culturally sustainable, but also fulfilling and creative. More specifically, in this study I will undertake to explain how the theory and practice of voluntary simplicity, as a way of life, address the significant educational issues involved in moving today’s ecologically and culturally unsustainable world toward an improved state of ecological balance. Choosing simple living can be seen as a practical step toward living well in harmony with others—humans and other sentient beings, the local/global ecosystem, and our planet Earth as a whole. This study will consider the interrelationship among the following topics: (1) today’s sustainability problems and educational efforts to cope with them—sustainability education; (2) the theory and practice of voluntary simplicity as a way of life, and its ecologically/culturally sustainable orientation; (3) the educational value of voluntary simplicity as sustainability education—education for simplicity; and (4) the theoretical framework of integration/transformation of acquired knowledge and everyday action based on one’s concrete experience—an Eastern idea of living-learning, which is emphasized in sustainability education and voluntary simplicity. Through these analyses, this study attempts to facilitate an understanding of sustainability education and voluntary simplicity as an experiential learning for life. The study will show how active learning/education for voluntary simplicity could prove to be a concrete and useful methodology for sustainability education through its connection with the concept of living-learning. If I shift perspective and explain the core concepts of this thesis with respect to the Buddhist point of view, a three-fold logic emerges: (a) Ground--Interlocking crises that signal a need for radical change; (b) Path--Voluntary simplicity as sustainability education informed by concept of living-learning; and (c) Fruition--Sustainable, creative, just, equitable, fulfilling ways of life and world. One contribution of this study is its reading of Whitehead's views on education in light of living-learning and the reverse as well.

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