Here's an overview of EcoTypes, in FAQ format. If your question is not yet answered, feel free to email Prof. Jim Proctor of Lewis & Clark College.
The EcoTypes initiative, headed by Prof. Jim Proctor of Lewis & Clark College, is an opportunity primarily for students in environmental programs and courses in U.S. institutions of higher education to learn more about the fundamental ideas that shape how they and others approach environmental issues. (All, however, are welcome to participate in EcoTypes.) The EcoTypes project has been approved by Lewis & Clark College's institutional review board; the project number is HSRC #2016-40.
EcoTypes has been designed to connect research with education; numbers with ideas; and broad concepts with specific issues. This is not easy! Your participation and comments will help us improve EcoTypes to best address these goals.
As of 2018-19, EcoTypes consists of fourteen axes. Each axis represents an important ideological conflict or debate related to environmental issues, and is defined in terms of opposing poles.
Twelve of these axes have been bundled into three main themes, based on empirical analysis. These themes suggest some fundamental questions concerning place, knowledge, and action, and some creative tensions inherent in each.
All suggest opportunities for us to discover, and engage across, difference!
You may wonder how EcoTypes axes and themes compare with other environmental typologies; see here for a background. EcoTypes proceeds from the assumption that a much broader set of ideas inform how we approach environmental issues than those included in standard environmental surveys such as the New Ecological Paradigm.
No one likes disagreement. Most of us hate to get into arguments. But disagreement is everywhere today, certainly in the context of environmental issues, where differences seem to be growing.
This mindmap suggests our options: we can, and should, search for agreement, but this search may be limited. It's worth considering whether disagreement could be a good thing, if we could go deeper and get to some fundamental differences. We may find that all sides have some truth!...such is the nature of paradox.
In the context of environmental higher education, too much focus on agreement may have the following effects on learning:
- An undue emphasis on what to think, vs. how to think
- No room to appreciate a diversity of ideas in and out of the classroom
- No opportunity to build skills in conversation across difference
Building on this approach, the EcoTypes axes are grounded in fundamental debates we have about environmental ideas; each axis is thus defined in terms of two opposing poles. Then the axes are bundled into three main themes, each also defined in terms of its opposing poles. EcoTypes is thus an opportunity for us to discover and engage over our differences—never an easy thing, but certainly important in our times.
It should be noted that many popular surveys on values do the same thing. One widely known example is the Myers-Briggs (or Keirsey) survey, consisting of items defined by opposing poles such as thinking vs. feeling. So there is some methodological precedent for this approach in EcoTypes.
There is nothing sacred or settled about the fourteen current EcoTypes axes; we will likely add more! (We just added a new Diversity axis for 2018-19.) In identifying EcoTypes axes to date, we have generally avoided two types of ideological debates: (a) dusty debates (e.g., conservationism vs. preservationism) that once raged, but generate relatively few fresh insights at present, and (b) non-debates (e.g., whether we should even care about environmental issues) that most of our target participants broadly support, even if there is some disagreement among the general population.
Hopefully you'll find the axes here to be a helpful start in thinking more deeply about environmental ideas. And if you'd like to suggest new axes, leave a comment or email Prof. Jim Proctor.
The EcoTypes site has lots of resources! See here for a step by step guide we recommend for you to find your way. If you have time, you'll (a) situate yourself in the Big Picture of environmental ideas by taking the survey and reflecting on your EcoTypes axis results, then (b) you'll consider Big Patterns that draw together these axes into key themes, and finally (c) you'll apply EcoTypes to environmental issues and opportunities for engagement across difference.
See the Instructor Tips page for how to apply this step by step guide in classroom situations involving only a little to a lot of time to do EcoTypes.
If you are an instructor considering use of EcoTypes in your courses, feel free to join our EcoTypes GoogleGroup to participate in related faculty discussions, or email Jim Proctor for specific information. Note that the EcoTypes initiative has been approved by Lewis & Clark College's institutional review board; the current project number is HSRC #2018-03.
If you are ready to proceed with using EcoTypes, it's important that you read and follow the Instructor Expectations page, then you may wish to consult Instructor Tips for options based on how much time you have to include EcoTypes, and any other resources you find on the site. Do let us know which resources prove especially useful (or confusing!) as you proceed.