Ecology and Experience

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Ecology and Experience

Reflections from a Human Ecological Perspective

Author: Richard J. Borden Foreword by: Darron Collins

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A philosophical and narrative memoir, Ecology and Experience is a thoughtful, engaging recounting of author Richard J. Borden’s life entwined in an overview of the intellectual and institutional history of human ecology—a story of life wrapped in a life story.

Borden shows that attempts to bridge the mental and environmental arenas are uncertain, but that rigid conventions and narrow views have their dangers too. Human experience and the natural world exist on many levels and gathering from both realms gives rise to novel constellations. In a blend of themes and approaches based on a lifetime of interdisciplinary inquiry, the author wanders these intersections and invites us to exercise our capacities for ecological insight, to deepen the experience of being alive, and, most of all, to more fully enrich our lives.

Foreword by Darron Collins, president of the College of the Atlantic
Part I. Transects and Plots
1. The Arc of Life
2. Ecology
3. Experience
4. Human Ecology
5. Education
Part II. Facets of Life
6. Time and Space
7. Death in Life
8. Personal Ecology
9. Context
10. Metaphor and Meaning
Part III. Wider Points of View
11. Kinds of Minds
12. Insight
13. Imagination
14. Keyholes
15. Ecology and Identity
16. The Unfinished Course
Part IV. Coda

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About the Author

RICHARD J. BORDEN holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic, where he teaches. An editor and coauthor of numerous books and articles, Borden has been a United States Information Agency academic specialist and consultant in the area of human ecology, and has served as an advisor to human ecology programs in China, Russia, Europe, and North and South America. The author lives in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Reviews/Press Quotes

“Ecology and Experience brings the field of human ecology and its essential ideas to life through the personal voice of a major figure in the field. The result is much more engaging than a textbook and more complete.”—Louise Chawla, professor of environmental design, University of Colorado at Boulder and author of In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry and Childhood Memory
“Interdependence was the word René Dubos, an early trustee of College of the Atlantic, used to summarize the meaning of human ecology. Richard Borden’s Ecology and Experience draws across a broad range of academic disciplines and personal experiences to illustrate with great clarity the many aspects of interdependence.”—Edward G. Kaelber, founding president of College of the Atlantic

“Richard Borden played an important role in the Ecological Society of America by leading the establishment of a human ecology section that focuses on the relationship between humans and their environment. His book continues his life-long commitment to expand our understanding and appreciation of this relationship.”
—Katherine McCarter, executive director of the Ecological Society of America (ESA)
“If we want to learn how to think of life on a limited planet this is the book to read and absorb. Rich’s wide range of experience and thoughts about the beauty of the blend of humans and the natural world will help us develop our own thinking­—and maybe make us all into human ecologists. As Rich says: We are surrounded by the deep experience of life everywhere we go. If we can discover ways to be in touch with it, and allow it to touch us, this world will be a better place.”
—Eva Ekehorn, trustee, Commonwealth Human Ecology Council (CHEC), UK
“Rich takes us on an amazing journey across time, space, and even mind, which makes us realize the existence of a tacit but strong keynote of the earth—ecology.”
—Chiho Watanabe, professor and head, Department of Human Ecology, University of Tokyo
“If you are at all interested in human ecology, the intersection of mind, nature, and higher education, you must read this indispensable, accessible, wonderful book. Borden respects and understands the rigor of disciplinary research, but reaches beyond its findings and questions to ones that lurk beyond the stream of the analytic mind. In this intellectual tour-de-force, an ultimate magnum opus, Borden offers ways to think and feel the world and ourselves whole, anew.”
—Gene Myers, professor, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University, author of Children and Animals, and coauthor Conservation Psychology
“Ecology and Experience is a compelling, inviting, and wise book. Richard Borden seamlessly blends intellectual biography and memoir with the dynamic challenge of our time—how to lead an ecologically sound life in a world of daunting change. The book is a conceptual masterpiece, covering an extraordinary range of ideas and concepts, all ultimately connected to human ecology and educational leadership. Whether Borden describes his childhood experiences, his intellectual maturation and development, his pioneering work as an academic dean, or his tireless efforts on behalf of human ecology, his stories and explanations are riveting, insightful, and rewarding. By uncovering the connecting threads of his own life, he helps us understand what matters most to many of us—living a rich and meaningful intellectual life.”
—Mitchell Thomashow, author of Ecological Identity and Bringing the Biosphere Home
“Professor Borden's book is human ecology. I don't mean it's about human ecology—it is human ecology. It is an essential read…”
­—David Hales, president, Second Nature
“In Ecology and Experience Richard Borden addresses two fundamental and interlinked questions: “What makes life possible?” and “What makes life worth living?” The result is a unique inquiry, revealing both the development of Rich’s quest to understand these questions and inviting the reader to reflect on his own learning experience and future pathways. Such challenges are necessary for us all if we are to collectively create humane, worthwhile and sustainable futures within which we can flourish.”
—Robert Dyball, convener, Human Ecology program, Fenner School of the Environment, Australian National University, president, Society for Human Ecology, coauthor of Understanding Human Ecology
“This absorbing book is a multi-faceted gem that reveals a different aspect of life and humanity with the turning of every page. Fascinating, innovative, insightful, and inspiring, this book shows how important it is to think laterally about the ways we look at the world, the ways we convey our understanding of the world to others, and the way we teach and learn about ourselves, society, our relationships with others, with other living things, and with the landscapes and oceans of this blue planet.” 
—Ian Douglas, emeritus professor, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, UK, president, International Council for Ecopolis Development, and author of Cities: An Environmental History

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