Beginning with the claim that we are more likely to care for and protect natural ecologies close to home (and thereby the environment as a whole) if we feel for them a sense of love and connection, this thesis builds on the foundation that such a felt connection is necessarily aesthetic in that it involves the whole being — including body, senses and spirit. The experience of active engagement in the arts shares many commonalities with that of being immersed in nature. In this regard, being well versed in several forms of the arts can contribute to deeper and subtler interrelatedness with natural environments. Unlike literal language, the arts offer means of learning and expressing what one knows of the world around us in ways that are sensuous, embodied, symbolic and ineffable. An argument is made for the validation in education of a lived and embedded relationship with the natural world (and with place) and for how the arts can help engender such a relationship. Examples of aesthetic practice and their process are explored: a series of drawings done in two particular wooded areas over the course of a year, and a series of imaginative writings stemming from listening to what certain forms in the natural world might say. This experience of listening is then considered in light of how it might contribute to an increased mindful awareness of self, particularly as an ethical being in relation to other forms of life.
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Thesis advisor: Richmond, Stuart
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