much more beneficial to teach about ecological issues by focusing on sustainable cultural
practices and positive human/nature relationships that are part of the daily practice of
many local groups. Mueller (2011) also agrees and urges a “dialogical conversation” (p.
351) among the educators and citizens that moves ecological issues away from a narrow
focus on science to a broader focus on the ways that people might embrace new activities
and ethics (French, 2011).
Rationale for a commons education
This contemporary context can be the impetus for new initiatives in higher
education. The culturally specific, local practices that lead to greater sustainability,
increased satisfaction in work, and support of ecologically informed intelligence might be
recognized and reinforced through univeristy education. In addition, practices that erode
the world’s cultural and natural commons need to be viewed as colonizing forces to be
resisted as they are detrimental to the very future of all forms of life on earth. A focus on
the diversity and sustainability of the world’s cultural and natural commons will lead to
better understanding of the need to resist forms of enclosure and of the actions needed to
establish a more ecologically sustainable planet. A focus on cultural commons practices
brings out what is an important shift in how we think. Namely, it highlights the relational
nature of existence, between humans, between humans and natural systems, and within
natural systems. A focus on relationships in a market economy and the industrial system
of work also brings out the relational nature of existence, but these relationships are often
exploitive and consist of competitive practices of getting ahead as individuals and beating
the system. In understanding what is distinctive about the diversity of the world’s
cultural commons is that the relationships involve mutually supportive activities and the
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