UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mindscapes and landscapes : exploring the educational intersections of neuroscience, ecology and meditation Chang, Dave


The causes of the most pressing environmental problems today can be traced in part to the prevailing assumptions that inform the design and function of our social institutions, schools included. Collective efforts to address ecological decline must include the reform of formal schooling, both its goals and its practices. This thesis explores how meditative practice might be used to address anthropocentric and egocentric patterns of thought that some theorists understand to underlie the collective actions that result in ecological deterioration. Working within the framework of embodied cognition, I propose using neuroscience as a way to gain larger insights into human consciousness, and consider the import of neuroscientific data for educators concerned with a more ecological way of living and thinking. If we proceed from the methodological assumption of the embodied mind, then alterations to consciousness should also be manifested in the brain in the form of neurological activity and neuroplasticity. Questions addressed include: “Can meditation facilitate changes in our consciousness that might make us less anthropocentric and less ego-centric? Is there neuroscientific evidence supporting the efficacy of meditation in promoting a less anthropocentric way of thinking? How is the neuroscientific knowledge of meditation relevant to education? This thesis brings together ideas from deep ecology, the phenomenology of embodiment, neuroscience and meditation to inform the larger discussion on how schools can effectively address the ecological challenges of the 21st century.

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