Consilience- Law + Psychology = Ecopsychology

One of the attributes of the New Leaders is the ability and capacity to integrate not just concepts but entire fields of knowledge and learning.

Consilience is a ‘jumping together’ of knowledge. A concept that allows two (or more) apparently irreconciliable concerns to evolve, if not together, then at least in paraOne llel. The converse of Consilience is Reductionism.

In his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, E.O. Wilson discusses methods that have been used to unite the sciences and may be used to unite the humanities. He uses the term Consilience to describe the synthesis of knowledge from different specialised fields of human endeavour.

One person who appears to epitomise this concept is James Thornton, founder of the environmental law firm Client Earth where he is literally treating the environment as his client. Thornton sees his legal work as transformative, not aggressive and draws strongly on his buddhist background as well as his legal expertise. He is an environmental lawyer and social entrepreneur. A member of the bars of New York, California and the Supreme Court of the United States, and a solicitor of England and Wales, he moved from Wall Street law practice to found the Citizens’ Enforcement Project at NRDC in New York, where he brought some 80 federal lawsuits against corporations to enforce the Clean Water Act when the Reagan Administration stopped enforcing the law. He won these cases and embarrassed the government to start enforcing the law again.

Thornton has also taken an integral approach to Ecopsychology by arguing that a goal of Ecopsychology is to enable environmental policy arguments based on human self interest rather than moral or aesthetic considerations which may be seen as weak. A changed definition of mental health offers this opportunity. If we can get a consensus on the psychological need for human contact with nature, the tenor of the environmnetal debate will shift in a fundamental way and preserving ecosystems will be easier. When policymakers are moved by self interest- they act When policy makers are moved by self interest, they act.

Thornton is identified as one of the New Statesman’s 10 people Who Can Change The World


About jboydedu

The Australian Centre for Sustainability Literacy is a division of Julie Boyd and Associates, who have been working for three decades to educate students in becoming positively contributing world citizens. We use a careful integration of solid research and evidence from a broad range of fields across education, community, business and leadership to support the 7th Generation concept which says that all decisions need to be made for the benefit of 7 generations forward.
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