Acknowledging the Role of Ecological Literacy in the Pursuit of Health and Well-being

By Helaine Alessio, Judith Rogers, M. Elise Radina and Leah Wasburn-Moses.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 7, 2014 $US5.00

In this paper, faculty from diverse fields comprising of health, family studies, and education argue for the importance of incorporating ecological literacy in their respective disciplines. Over the course of a year, a faculty learning community, inspired by lectures and writings of leading scholars in ecological literacy, engaged in sustained conceptual inquiry and dialogue. Cross-disciplinary discussions led to the realization that in teaching, scholarship, and service, faculty mainly focus on specific academic fields and less often consider interdisciplinary questions that encompass ecological impacts on individuals, families, schools, and communities. With this realization, each author engaged in critical analysis of her own field and produced an interpretation of how the field might be re-imagined using ecological and place-based theories grounded in interdisciplinary considerations. Analyzing current theory in their areas of scholarship and teaching, the authors provide examples and strategies from across their fields for raising awareness about the intersections of person and place in pursuing and achieving personal and ecological health. The authors argue that institutions of higher education are in a strategic position to advance ecological literacy in a variety of fields. The purpose of this paper is to begin a dialogue both within and across the authors’ respective fields that considers how preparing ecologically literate graduates, who understand that personal and ecological health are interdependent, is critical for improving and sustaining both human existence and the planet.

Keywords: Ecology, Personal Health, Ecological Health, Family-Community-Schools

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, March 2014, pp.67-83. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 497.941KB)).

Dr. Helaine Alessio

Professor and Chair, Department of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

Dr. Helaine Alessio is a professor and chair in the Department of Kinesiology and Health. She is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and Scripps Gerontology Center. Her scholarly interests include exercise physiology, risks and benefits associated with exercise, and age-related changes influenced by the interaction of environment and genetics on physiological phenotypes linked to health and disease. Her research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Health, and National Cancer Institute. Her teaching includes undergraduate and graduate classes in exercise physiology, gerontology, and physiological genomics. She has participated in several faculty learning communities including the current one on ecological literacy, which has sparked her interest in crossdisciplinary inquiry of the intersection of person and place in pursuit of health and well-being.

Dr. Judith Rogers

Professor, Educational Leadership, Associate Dean, College of Education, Health, and Society, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

Dr. Judy L. Rogers is the associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Education, Health, and Society, and is a professor in educational leadership at Miami University. Her current scholarship focuses on sustainability leadership and the spiritual dimension of leadership. She has presented widely on the role spirituality in university leadership, organizational transformation, and sustainability leadership at national and regional conferences in the United States and also in Canada, Mexico, and Luxembourg. She has received numerous awards from state and national associations for her outstanding and distinguished service to the field of higher education, including being named in 2010 one of 25 professionals designated as a legacy to the profession for her lifetime of contributions in scholarship, teaching, and service.

Dr. M. Elise Radina

Professor, Department of Family Studies and Social Work, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

Dr. M. Elise Radina is an associate professor in the Department of Family Studies and Social Work. Her research focuses broadly on families and health, with particular emphasis on the well-being of women in family life. This has included the study of breast cancer survivorship as well as exploring the Red Hat Society as a venue for care work for self. She teaches courses in research methodologies, later life families, women and gender studies, and couple relationships. Currently, she serves on the National Lymphedema Network’s Research Advisory Committee, as chair of the National Council on Family Relations’ Family and Health Section, and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Family Theory and Review.

Leah Wasburn-Moses

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA

Dr. Leah Wasburn-Moses is an associate professor of educational psychology at Miami University. She is a former high school special education teacher. Her interests are in reform of teacher education. Dr. Wasburn-Moses also directs Campus Mentors, model alternative schools for high school students at risk located on college campuses. Campus Mentors raises the grades and credit attainment of participating youth and provides hands-on experience for future teachers in working with youth from diverse backgrounds.