Neohumanism and Integral Ecology

by Eric Jacobson

What is Integral Learning?  In school, this means using thematic units that integrate many academic disciplines. By contrast, most school learning is accomplished through separate subject studies. For example, the History of the Ancient Greeks would be a social studies unit—removed from reading, writing, math, science, art, music, etc. But in our daily life and jobs, learning tends to be integrated, rarely sorted and artificially detached into academic niche subjects. Furthermore, children’s minds are touched and inspired by the thematic approach which shows the connection between subjects, exposing the deeper meaning and purpose for learning.

What is Ecology?  Ecology is the study of how Life interrelates in a systemic way with all biological forms and their surroundings. Relationships take place at the atomic and molecular level, between plants and animals, and among species in ecological networks and systems.

When you combine Integral Learning with Ecology, the result is Integral Ecology. Integral Ecology is very closely related to Neohumanism.  Both envision a new movement that seeks to bring the deep understanding of interrelationship that Ecology demonstrates into all aspects of human life. In these movements, Ecology is used as a natural guiding principle to promote the greater good, to help find sustainable solutions to our collective problems, and to determine equitable methods for solving them. Ecology can be applied to many aspects of school life, not just studied as a separate concept.

Thus Integral Ecology and Neohumanism share a common vision—meshing Ecology as a guiding truth into our thematic, integrated style of teaching, and also extending ecological principles beyond academics until their touch blesses every aspect of our school life.

Some examples of Integral Ecology in action are:

  • Garden plots for every grade
  • A special outdoor garden curriculum
  • New imaginative approaches to behavioral and emotional therapy
  • Collective recycled art projects
  • Minimizing our trash
  • Paying attention to our ecology carbon footprint
  • Evaluating the positive nature of our emotional footprint
  • Reflections on the ripple effects of our actions