Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect / Edition 2

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In Earth in Mind, noted environmental educator David W. Orr focuses not on problems in education, but on the problem of education.

Much of what has gone wrong with the world, he argues, is the result of inadequate and misdirected education that: alienates us from life in the name of human domination; causes students to worry about how to make a living before they know who they are; overemphasizes success and careers; separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical; deadens the sense of wonder for the created world.

The crisis we face, Orr explains, is one of mind, perception, and values. It is, first and foremost, an educational challenge.

The author begins by establishing the grounds for a debate about education and knowledge. He describes the problems of education from an ecological perspective, and challenges the "terrible simplifiers" who wish to substitute numbers for values. He follows with a presentation of principles for re-creating education in the broadest way possible, discussing topics such as biophilia, the disciplinary structure of knowledge, the architecture of educational buildings, and the idea of ecological intelligence. Orr concludes by presenting concrete proposals for reorganizing the curriculum to draw out our affinity for life.

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Editorial Reviews

Orr (environmental studies, Oberlin College) describes the problems of education from an ecological perspective, and presents principles for re-creating education. He argues that much of what is wrong with the world is the result of inadequate education that alienates us from life in the name of human domination. He discusses biophilia, the disciplinary structure of knowledge, and ecological intelligence. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Wild Earth

"Earth in Mind is a book for all who are committed to a restructuring of institutions of education."
Edward O. Wilson

"As a rule economists understand economics, ecologists the environment, and educators teaching. David Orr is one of the rare authors who understands all three, and in these finely etched and admirable essays he delivers the revolutionary credo necessary, in my opinion, for the long-term survival of our species."
author of The Distant Land - Wendell Berry

"Justly removing the hide with the hair, David Orr here examines the calamitous 'success' of the industrial economy and of the educational system that subserves it....Earth in Mind is also a manual of ideas and possibilities for those who want to work toward a better end than the one now in view."
author of Epicurean Simplicity - Stephanie Mills

"David Orr is a seasoned doer as well as thinker, whose primary concern—education—could be the very pivot on which our society turns back toward life. If such dramatic and necessary change in our teaching and learning does begin, much will be owed to the ideas herein."
Conservation Biology

"What does one say about a book that is arguably one of the most important books written in recent years, perhaps ever?"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559634953
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 331,870
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David W. Orr is chair of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College, and education editor of the journal Conservation Biology  His previous books include Ecological Literacy  and Environmental Responsibility.

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Table of Contents

1 What is education for? 7
2 The dangers of education 16
3 The problem of education 26
4 The business of education 35
5 Love 43
6 Some thoughts on intelligence 48
7 Reflections on water and oil 54
8 Virtue 60
9 Forests and trees 64
10 Politics 70
11 Economics 74
12 Judgment : Pascal's Wager and economics in a hotter time 79
13 Rating colleges 89
14 The problem of disciplines and the discipline of problems 94
15 Professionalism and the human prospect 99
16 Designing minds 104
17 Architecture as pedagogy 112
18 Agriculture and the liberal arts 117
19 Educating a constituency for the long haul 122
20 Love it or lose it : the coming biophilia revolution 131
21 A world that takes its environment seriously 154
22 Prices and the life exchanged : costs of the U.S. food system 172
23 Refugees or homecomers? : conjectures about the future of rural America 185
24 Hope in hard times 204
Conclusion : Earth in mind 212
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