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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Thirty-One: C.A. Bowers, Educating for Eco-Justice and Community (2001)


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C.A. Bowers, Educating for Eco-Justice and Community (2001)

Michael P. Mueller

This chapter analyzes Chet Bowers’s book Educating for Eco-Justice and Community (2001). Bowers is a retired professor of environmental studies who formerly taught at the University of Oregon. He was very prolific during his career, writing many books and papers on a wide variety of topics, but was most importantly focused on analyzing the cultural patterns of thinking that are associated with behaviors that contribute to the rates and scales of ecological decline. His first book, published in 1974, was entitled Cultural Literacy for Freedom and emphasized the significance of the cultural aspects of ecological literacy in public schools and universities. At that time he used an emancipatory liberal framework as the basis for promoting the importance of cultural and ecological sustainability (Bowers, 1996). However, shortly thereafter he noticed how various environmental groups misused the environment for short-term economic gains and realized that liberalism actually justified, through the root metaphors of individualism and technological progress, the further degradation of the environment. Bowers carefully developed his critique of emancipatory and neoliberal frameworks for the next 35 years. He used Gregory Bateson (Bowers, 1990) and many others’ works to articulate ecojustice theory.

Bowers’s most influential books have been Education, Cultural Myths, and the Ecological Crisis: Towards Deep Changes (1993) and Educating for Eco-Justice and Community, which I explore here. Bowers has had a significant impact on...

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