Epistemological Stretching and Transformative Sustainability Learning: An Intuitive Inquiry
I have chosen to conduct an intuitive inquiry into the relationship between a pedagogical focus on epistemological stretching and transformative sustainability learning. The study contributes to theoretical and practical knowledge of teaching and learning about and within the realm of transformative sustainability learning, and contributes to a deepened understanding of epistemological stretching as a pedagogical orientation. Specifically, I have investigated the implications of epistemological stretching as a focal point for teaching and learning for students in ENVS 811: Multiple Ways of Knowing in Environmental Decision Making, a graduate level course in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan. Using the 5 cycles of Intuitive Inquiry, this research records and interprets accounts of eight students who participated in ENVS 811. The course is oriented around critical examination of human-nature relations with an emphasis on epistemology. The goal for this research is to investigate the ways in which a focus on epistemological stretching can enable three things: (1) prepare students to engage in interdisciplinary and sustainability knowledge creation; (2) help alleviate the epistemic incongruence in resource co-management arrangements; and (3) bring multiple ways of knowing to bear on complex environmental issues. This research is focused on answering three questions: 1. In what ways can a focus on epistemology help enable perspective transformation implicit in a transformative learning experience? 2. In what ways can educating for epistemological stretching result in new ways of thinking, valuing, doing? 3. In what ways can epistemological stretching help students engage in more effective and ethically appropriate ways with Indigenous peoples and their knowledges? This research concludes that epistemological stretching can contribute to transformative sustainability pedagogy in meaningful ways and develops 5 lenses for describing the conceptual spaces in which learning occurs: acknowledgement and deconstruction of power, relationship reconceptualization, change in perspective and action, worldview bridging, and validation of previously held views.
Keywords: Epistemological stretching, transformative sustainability learning, environmental education, resource co-management, ethical Indigenous engagement.
Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.)
School of Environment and Sustainability
Environment and Sustainability