First Advisor

William York

Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Environmental Studies and University Honors


Environmental Studies




Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Anthropocentricity, Anthropocene, Reciprocity




This thesis will analyze prevailing Western perceptions of the natural environment and the historical construction of these beliefs, in an attempt to discern the root problems contributing to the present-day climate crisis. The dominant historical narratives of the West (such as Greco-Roman, and Christian) will be examined so as to demonstrate the trajectory of Western thought in regard to perceptions of the natural environment. Prominent theories on combating climate change in the modern era, put forth by scholars with expertise in relevant fields, will be examined and discussed, with a specific focus on the established dichotomy between man and nature, characteristic of Western (and Christian) culture. Methods for the deconstruction of detrimental ideologies will be posited in the effort to dismantle such problematic anthropocentricity. The author suggests that this cultural paradigm shift must occur through the acceptance of new stories, and then emphasizes the ways in which Indigenous narratives serve as a far better conceptual model of environmental interactions, ethics, and land management. To provide evidence to this claim, Western cultural artifacts such as language, education, and economy will be contrasted with Indigenous ones to demonstrate the potential improvements associated with heeding Indigenous communities. The benefits and potential barriers to Indigenous co-collaboration will be outlined in order to preemptively identify potential solutions. Finally, methods for incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and tangible instances of effective co-collaboration with Indigenous groups will be discussed using relevant case studies as evidence.


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