Interpreting spiritual ecology for modern urban planning : increasing understanding of personal responsibility, community awareness, interdependent action, and spiritual awakening in communities




Alexander, Jena Plumeria

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The paper begins by describing limitations in city planning approaches that originate from worldviews that do not meet long-term community environmental, economic, or spiritual needs. It posits that a graduate-level education in city planning must go beyond solutions derived or implemented through data and engineering to solutions that build human dignity, well-being, and community through relational awareness and self-reflexive practice. This paper then introduces and defines, through examples and case studies, a branch of study called “spiritual ecology” that can provide a path beyond those limitations. The examples and case studies focus on several overarching themes such as Animism; ways of knowing such as deep patience, wisdom-seeking, observation, and reverence; principles of action such as self-restraint; systems thinking frameworks such as deep ecology and “interbeing”; community development through self-reflexive practice; and decentralized, participative systems. The paper explains, through the sections, how spiritual ecology logic and principles stemming from these overarching themes can be applied to city planning. The paper then examines the Thai Sufficiency Economy as a working model for implementation of spiritual ecology logic and principles. Throughout, the paper also explains why spiritual ecology is necessary for a graduate study in city planning. Lastly, a one-semester curriculum for a graduate course in Spiritual Ecology is outlined


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