Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The ecology of love: A transdisciplinary inquiry into the heart of matter
by Sayers, Bonnie Blue Love, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2016, 198; 3743743
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents an original contribution by defining love as an eco-systemic process with the potential to heal Earth’s ecological crisis. Something is considered systemic when it is spread throughout and affects a system as a whole. Considering the view that Earth is an interconnected system, I began to question the role of systemic processes in response to Earth’s greater problems, like climate change. A review of the literature revealed that love has not yet been explored as an eco-systemic process in relation to Earth’s complex crisis. I chose to address this gap in the literature by engaging a dialogue on the role of love in ecological healing.

The research is approached through an ecological, or systems, perspective. I developed three methodological tools to assist this inquiry process. The first is what I term the ecological conscience. This could be viewed as the lens of my inquiry and is defined in detail in my methods section. The second is transdisicplinary inquiry, a method of research specifically designed for systems studies. Individual disciplines are beginning to explore the topic of love in more detail—from the biological reactions of love in the body, to cognitive reactions of interpersonal relationships, to the cultural evolution of love. Each discipline presents a much-needed thread to our understanding of love, but it is important to weave these threads together as a whole. Transdisiciplinary research allowed this process to occur. Finally, I chose storywork methodology as a way to frame my findings on the ecology of love. The story is written as a creative dialogue between myself and the ecology of love and reflects the complexity of my findings in a more personal and emotional tone.

If something is systemic, its role is crucial to the health of the larger system. That love is appearing in so many disciplines reveals its systemic nature in life. Only by viewing the interconnections can we see how love plays a role in the ecological healing of Earth. This research presents a scientific view of what the poets, saints, and sages have been saying all along. Love matters, and it matters so significantly that its presence or absence influences the evolution of Earth as a whole.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shearer, Cindy
Commitee: Peat, David, Pringle, Mary Beth
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Spirituality, Systems science
Keywords: Ecology, Love, Philosophy, Spirituality, Systems science, Transdisciplinary
Publication Number: 3743743
ISBN: 978-1-339-36488-9
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