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Mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching

Wamsler, Christine LU ; Brossmann, Johannes; Hendersson, Heidi; Kristjansdottir, Rakel; McDonald, Colin and Scarampi, Phil (2017) In Sustainability Science p.1-20
Abstract

This paper explores the current role of mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching. Based on a qualitative literature review that is complemented by an experimental learning lab, we sketch the patterns and core conceptual trajectories of the mindfulness–sustainability relationship. In addition, we assess this relationship within the field of climate change adaptation and risk reduction. The results highlight that notions such as ‘sustainability from within’, ‘ecological mindfulness’, ‘organizational mindfulness’, and ‘contemplative practices’ have been neglected in sustainability science and teaching. Whilst little sustainability research addresses mindfulness, there is scientific support for its positive influence... (More)

This paper explores the current role of mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching. Based on a qualitative literature review that is complemented by an experimental learning lab, we sketch the patterns and core conceptual trajectories of the mindfulness–sustainability relationship. In addition, we assess this relationship within the field of climate change adaptation and risk reduction. The results highlight that notions such as ‘sustainability from within’, ‘ecological mindfulness’, ‘organizational mindfulness’, and ‘contemplative practices’ have been neglected in sustainability science and teaching. Whilst little sustainability research addresses mindfulness, there is scientific support for its positive influence on: (1) subjective well-being; (2) the activation of (intrinsic/ non-materialistic) core values; (3) consumption and sustainable behavior; (4) the human–nature connection; (5) equity issues; (6) social activism; and (7) deliberate, flexible, and adaptive responses to climate change. Most research relates to post-disaster risk reduction, although it is limited to the analysis of mindfulness-related interventions on psychological resilience. Broader analyses and foci are missing. In contrast, mindfulness is gaining widespread recognition in practice (e.g., by the United Nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations). It is concluded that mindfulness can contribute to understanding and facilitating sustainability, not only at the individual level, but sustainability at all scales, and should, thus, become a core concept in sustainability science, practice, and teaching. More research that acknowledges positive emotional connections, spirituality, and mindfulness in particular is called for, acknowledging that (1) the micro and macro are mirrored and interrelated, and (2) non-material causation is part of sustainability. This paper provides the first comprehensive framework for contemplative scientific inquiry, practice, and education in sustainability.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Adaptation, Compassion, Contemplative teaching, Ecological mindfulness, Emotion, Inner transition, Organizational mindfulness, Other ways of knowing, Planning, Political mindfulness, Risk reduction, Spiritual ecology, Sustainability, Transformation, Well-being
in
Sustainability Science
pages
20 pages
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85017171277
ISSN
1862-4057
DOI
10.1007/s11625-017-0428-2
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a55e2d69-b519-45c9-8596-c1f9ced2187c
date added to LUP
2017-02-13 14:42:31
date last changed
2018-01-14 04:29:54
@article{a55e2d69-b519-45c9-8596-c1f9ced2187c,
  abstract     = {<p>This paper explores the current role of mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching. Based on a qualitative literature review that is complemented by an experimental learning lab, we sketch the patterns and core conceptual trajectories of the mindfulness–sustainability relationship. In addition, we assess this relationship within the field of climate change adaptation and risk reduction. The results highlight that notions such as ‘sustainability from within’, ‘ecological mindfulness’, ‘organizational mindfulness’, and ‘contemplative practices’ have been neglected in sustainability science and teaching. Whilst little sustainability research addresses mindfulness, there is scientific support for its positive influence on: (1) subjective well-being; (2) the activation of (intrinsic/ non-materialistic) core values; (3) consumption and sustainable behavior; (4) the human–nature connection; (5) equity issues; (6) social activism; and (7) deliberate, flexible, and adaptive responses to climate change. Most research relates to post-disaster risk reduction, although it is limited to the analysis of mindfulness-related interventions on psychological resilience. Broader analyses and foci are missing. In contrast, mindfulness is gaining widespread recognition in practice (e.g., by the United Nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations). It is concluded that mindfulness can contribute to understanding and facilitating sustainability, not only at the individual level, but sustainability at all scales, and should, thus, become a core concept in sustainability science, practice, and teaching. More research that acknowledges positive emotional connections, spirituality, and mindfulness in particular is called for, acknowledging that (1) the micro and macro are mirrored and interrelated, and (2) non-material causation is part of sustainability. This paper provides the first comprehensive framework for contemplative scientific inquiry, practice, and education in sustainability.</p>},
  author       = {Wamsler, Christine and Brossmann, Johannes and Hendersson, Heidi and Kristjansdottir, Rakel and McDonald, Colin and Scarampi, Phil},
  issn         = {1862-4057},
  keyword      = {Adaptation,Compassion,Contemplative teaching,Ecological mindfulness,Emotion,Inner transition,Organizational mindfulness,Other ways of knowing,Planning,Political mindfulness,Risk reduction,Spiritual ecology,Sustainability,Transformation,Well-being},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  pages        = {1--20},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11625-017-0428-2},
  year         = {2017},
}