Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

From utility to significance: Exploring ecological connection, ethics, and personal transformation through a gardening and environmental literacy program within San Quentin Prison
by Benham, Melissa K., M.S., San Jose State University, 2014, 151; 1567980
Abstract (Summary)

Society's environmental practices often parallel those of our criminal justice system. Both embody "throw-away" cultures that often yield more complex problems than those they were attempting to solve. Programs that provide real meaning-making are necessary to achieve ecological and criminal rehabilitation. Fundamental ecological and personal transformation requires a deep sense of context, purpose, and reconnection extending beyond mere employability. In this research we explored how people come to terms with personal moral obligation, as well as how restorative ecological engagement may be transformational for humans in personal crisis. Primary field data were gathered from incarcerated men inside San Quentin State Prison participating in the Insight Garden Program (IGP), as well as men in the same unit attending other prison programming, or no programming. A mixed-method approach was used, including open-ended interviews and three multiple-choice survey instruments: a locus of control survey, an environmental literacy quiz, and a climate change opinion survey. Each survey revealed strong results (those consistent with recidivism correlations) for IGP participants, followed by those in other programs, in comparison with men in no programming. Qualitative results most strongly illustrated that prison programming, gardening and otherwise, can contribute profoundly toward transformative value reorientation, which is integral to rehabilitation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: O'Malley, Rachel
Commitee: Fassett, Deanna, Todd, Anne Marie, Waitkus, Kathryn Elizabeth
School: San Jose State University
Department: Environmental Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 53/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Horticulture, Environmental Studies, Criminology
Keywords: Eco-psychology, Horticultural therapy, Justice, Mindfulness, Rehabilitation, Value orientation
Publication Number: 1567980
ISBN: 9781321297447
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