Revitalizing the Cultural Commons: A Philosophy to Thwart Ecological
Degradation
Audrey M. Dentith
Appalachian State University
Abstract
This paper describes the ecological crisis and possible solutions. It argues for a
heightened focus on cultural life, human knowledge, and the ways that the actions of
corporations and governments are working to thwart sustainability, indigenous cultural
practices, and positive human/nature relations. It calls for a revitalization of the cultural
commons as the means to prevent further degradation of the environment. The cultural
commons are those practices, actions, and beliefs that are largely non-monetized and do
not contribute further to ecological destruction. They are often intergenerational, face-to-
face practices and include the skills, mentoring, craft knowledge, civil liberties and all
forms of actions that challenge corporate power and promote wellbeing of various
groups and traditions. Supporting the cultural commons also curtails enclosure or the
privatization and commodification of what was once freely shared among all people.
Ground in an ethos of eco-justice education, an education to revitalize the cultural
commons is based on tenets of philosophy touted by Gregory Bateson. In conclusion, this
paper argues that scholars in educational philosophy need to adopt new perspectives in
understanding and taking action relative to the ecological crisis.
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