What Is Ecopsychology?
If one understands the workings of the world, one can understand the workings of humankind. - Paracelsus
Earth's sympoiesis - its making-with activities - are remarkable ecological and psychological entanglements of behavior and processes, such that Earth and all living beings are always being configured and reconfigured, composed, decomposed, and recomposed.
We live with a pluralistic and responsive planet that acts upon us (all life forms) as much as we act upon the planet.
Ecological psychology (ecopsychology) is an educative approach to understanding the human psyche as ecological; the same ecological processes that affect complex narratives and behaviors of Earth affect the complexity of narratives and behaviors of the ecological psyche.
The study of ecopsychology offers an extensive knowledge base that examines ecological and psychological processes:
- energy exchange,
- Intra-actions and waste,
- relationality, and
- decay and renewal (ecological and psychological composting) that underpin all ecologies including the human psyche.
Human narratives have an efficacy of their own: to poison or to activate, to close down or to open up possibilities.
The narratives we fabricate the world with matter; the ideas we think other ideas with … matter.
As an ecology of practice, ecopsychology examines and offers ways to reconfigure human narratives and their resulting practices. As an ethos, it offers the opportunity to develop one's senses, sensibility, responsibility, and ethics in order to lead new conversations and provide ecological and psychological leadership.
What are you doing with what you know?
How is it changing (or not) your matters of concern?
The evolutionary history of the human psyche are acts of making symbiotic and sympoietic contact; of co-development, co-shaping, and co-evolving with others.
In this context, ecopsychology offers:
1) ideas that expand perception, develop the capacity to envisage, feel, think, and imagine,
2) methodologies for ways to examine human narratives underpinning behavior, and how to reconfigure narratives, thereby changing the behavior and the practice,
3) quality of presence attentive and attuned to what is at stake and what matters in a shared world.
Ecopsychology and Environmental Humanities programs are non-licensure programs. Graduates practice as ecopsychologists much like environmental or conservation psychologists, and cultural ecologists.
VGI programs include various components:
Ecology: All living symbiotic ecologies, including the human ecosystem, are born into this world and we respond to it as much as it responds to each of our activities, experiments, practices, and innovations.
VGI is invested in educating students in intra-actions that respond responsibly and spontaneously to the complexity of Earth systems, nature's ecological processes of energy, diversity, cycling materials, change, and relationality among all nonhuman and human ecologies so as to create less harm to the interdependence of a shared planet.
Psychology: What narratives are we dying and living with? Narratives have an efficacy of their own such that they can poison or activate, they can shut down curiosity and innovations and they can open up new possibilities and opportunities. The psychological dimension understories every human attitude, behavior, belief and their practices be it in peoples, institutions, communities, or corporations.
At VGI students become proficient in narrative assessment and reconfiguration; they understand to change the narrative changes the behavior, and thus the practice. That is, we do things differently and we do different things that affect the well-being and flourishing for all ecologies.
With increasing differentiation and sensibilities the human response becomes more finely attuned to the needs of the world. These responses co-shape the aesthetics of culture and the ethical practices of human institutions and civilizations.
Culture: Students engage in narratives that result in impoverishment and destruction of vitality, dynamism, and agency of all nonhuman and human ecologies: supremacism, authoritarianism, and purity. Conversations that challenge the status quo, rigidity in thinking, apathy, and outmoded and disparaging practices indeed invigorate, innovate, and enliven the world.
Economy: Students engage ideas for how to shift the inequitable economic system so that it is not based upon exploitation of the ecological world, of naturehuman, and natureculture.
Politics: Student apply capacities and competencies from ecological psychology and environmental humanities that educates and motivates policymakers to take into account the critical psychological dimensions of complexity and interrelations of ecology, society, and economic factors in their decision-making with others.
We are responsible for the world of which we are apart.
Video by David Hannan, Ocean Ark Alliance