Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci

Second Advisor

Gloria Park

Third Advisor

Curtis Porter

Fourth Advisor

Ronald Janke


In this narrative study, I explore the use of a traditional Lakota Sioux tribal prayer, philosophy, and worldview, Mitakuye Oyasin, as the theme for the development of an ecocomposition course syllabus comprised of a series of integrated, locally-related, ecological restorative justice, service-learning components and corresponding narrative based writing assignments at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). The university is just north of Jasper County, Indiana. PNW and Jasper County are both located in Northwest Indiana, just to the southeast of the city of Chicago, Illinois.

The research questions I answer are: How can the Lakota Sioux Nation’s concept of Mitakuye Oyasin be integrated into a locally-based, service-learning, ecocomposition course syllabus in a way that facilitates our university’s visions for expanded local service-learning and locally-engaged student writing? At the same time: How can this comprehensive course plan further transfer ecological restorative habits and practice in students across a greater sense of place, such as the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota, bringing our local history full circle from the boarding school era, balancing both Native American and U.S. settlers’ teachings, which should have been equally valued from the first wave of immigrant footsteps on North American land?

Purdue University Northwest currently offers semester-long international experiential learning trips. We also offer limited, short-term, local, service-learning opportunities, such as students delivering meals for Meals on Wheels. However, there is a gap in our local area for themed service-learning involving ecological restorative justice and writing-related advocacy. This gap in locally-themed, university-driven, ecological restorative writing, based on service-learning, is not uncommon as service-learning “tends to neglect important community and institutional impacts” at the local level (Jacoby 15). From an ecological standpoint, localized service-learning gets students meaningfully involved in the environment surrounding their campus. A themed, local, ecocomposition class based on service-learning experience highlights the value of thinking locally, where one resides, a concept that can then transfer to a greater connection with land and place across a greater territory. The proposed curriculum and pedagogy coincides with our campus vision for expanded local service-learning and our composition program’s goal for locally-engaged student writing, while simultaneously creating ecological restorative practices in our community via student “hands-on” field work. In essence, students will be following in the footsteps of what is my written narrative in this work via course assignments, including keeping a journal of their own narrative. While PNW does currently offer a standard research-writing class, my particular alternate class plan (also offered as a course elective) can prove a draw for students interested in unique learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom.

Available for download on Friday, May 07, 2021