STUART B. HILL
Ecology (SE) at
UWS today is an emerging meta-discipline that provides a
and critical framework for the generation of holistic theory, deep
and effective, responsible action.
and direction from applied philosophy (critical reason, ethics,
world-views, imagination), personal experience (postulation,
reflection, contemplation) and diverse sources and systems of
cultural and contextual knowledge (education, particularly
thinking, and spirituality).
reflective practice that integrate personal, social, political
environmental concerns and possibilities.
include wellbeing and health, in the broadest sense, equity and social
justice, and the fostering of mutualistic and caring relationships,
meaning, organizational learning, co-evolutionary change and ecological
sustainability. These relationships are illustrated below.
between sources of theory and praxis in social ecology
this focus, most
of its work is concerned with transformative learning and
from the re-conceptualisation and redesign of existing
disciplines, professions, institutions and other structures and
to the facilitation of the actual processes of personal, social,
and environmental change.
is on thinking
about the big picture, while at the same time being willing to act
small meaningful ways, and also share and celebrate the
visions, processes and outcomes to facilitate their rapid spread
UWS-Hawkesbury, SE had
its origin in the mid-1980s in social communication. It was
located within the Faculty of Agriculture and Rural Development and was
primarily concerned with adult education in applied social and
settings. The change of name to Social Ecology reflected a drive to
ecological thinking and concern for the environment into the nexus of
to its present format, with undergraduate Majors in Community
and Organisational Change, Environmental Education and Advocacy, and
Psychology and Cultural Change. Coursework postgraduate programs
include the Graduate Diploma and Master of Applied Science in Social
with Majors in Environmental Education, Organisational Development and
Cultural Action; also a Master of Arts in Cultural Psychology: Jungian
Studies and Complexity, Chaos and Creativity. Several other coursework
postgraduate degrees are in the planning stage. Research degrees
include the B.App.Sc.(Hons.), M.Sc.(Hons.) and Ph.D.
educational goals of
SE are pursued within a learning community in which
for both students and staff to learn from one another are facilitated
encouraged. This process of learning is alive, exciting and empowering
for all concerned. The knowledge and theory generated and the actions
are at the cutting edge of personal, social, political and
within the Social Ecology Research Group (SERG) are the same as the
plus Sense of Place and Critical Studies in Political Ecology.
are underway for SERG to examine a possible amalgamation with the
for Systemic Development, the Centre for Strategic Thinking and the
Social Sciences Research Group.
ecology was first used in the mid-1960s by the United States
Murray Bookchin (1982) to characterise his particular critique of the
hierarchical, naively simple, exclusionary and ecologically uninformed
structures and processes that were (and still are) dominant in western
society. Whereas Bookchin emphasised a philosophical analysis and was
of deep ecology (Devall & Sessions 1985), SE at Hawkesbury had a
inclusive and practical approach. It drew its inspiration particularly
from Carl Rogers (1969) conception of whole-person-learning, David
(1984) experiential education, Paolo Frieres (1972) view of education
liberation, Mary Belenky et als (1986) feminist perspectives, and Peter
Reason and John Rowans (1981) participatory action research.
concepts have been incorporated. These include Gregory Batesons (1972)
ecological or recursive epistemology, Peter Senges (1990) learning
Mary Clarks (1989) interdisciplinary approaches to global problems,
Maturana and Francisco Varelas (1987) biologically-based constructivist
mind, Peter Checkland and Jim Scholes (1990) soft systems methodology,
Kurt Lewins (1935) force-field analysis and Fran Peaveys (1994)
questioning. Others are reflected in the selections included in the
collection of Readers that have been prepared for the subjects offered
in social ecology by the academic staff. These are available at cost
the Course Administrator at the address given below.
G. 1972. Steps
to an Ecology of Mind. Intertext, London.
McClinchy, N.R. Goldberger & J.M. Tarule 1986. The Womens Ways
Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. Basic Books, New
M. 1982. The
Ecology of Freedom. Knopf, New York.
J. Scholes 1990. Soft Systems Methodology in Action. Wiley, New
Ariadnes Thread. St.Martins, New York.
G. Sessions 1985. Deep Ecology. Gibbs M. Smith, Layton, UT.
P. 1972. Cultural
Action for Freedom. Penguin, Harmondsworth, UK.
As the Base for Learning and Development. Prentice Hall, Englewood
K. 1935. A
Dynamic Theory of Personality. McGraw Hill, New York.
F.J. Varela 1987. The Tree of Knowledge. Shambala, Boston, MA.
F. 1994. By
Lifes Grace. New Society, Philadelphia, PA.
J.Rowan (eds) 1981. Human Inquiry: A Sourcebook of New Paradigm
Wiley, New York.
C. 1969. Freedom
to Learn. Merrill, London.
B. Hill 1st August, 2000.
of Social Ecology
(02) 4570 1280
Fax: (02 4570 1531. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Ecology Website:
Research Group Website: