Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership


Critics of constructivism argue, in many ways correctly, that this approach to education is culturally and environmentally damaging because constructivism may not develop an understanding of the interdependence between the human community and the world in which people live. Advocates for environmentally sustainable pedagogy argue the importance of understanding patterns of thinking that allow communities to live sustainably. The purpose of this study is to resolve the tensions between the two pedagogical frameworks: constructivism and environmental sustainability.

The tensions are resolved in two ways. First, there are forms of constructivism that align in viable ways with the criteria critics argue are necessary for asustainable environment and which derive from the seminal work of Vygotsky and the sociocultural constructivists. Social constructivism additionally aligns with environmental sustainability since it focuses on the shared experience of a culture and the dialogic nature of inquiry. Second, emerging from the literature of environmental sustainability are the guiding principles for a new pedagogy of communal constructivism. What separates the emerging process of communal constructivism from sociocultural constructivism and what it gains from environmental sustainability is a moral compass. These guiding principles inform the idea of responsible embeddedness within a system of communities.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access