Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Resa Crane Bizzaro, Ph.D.


In this study, I ponder these primary questions: What curricular or ideological strands and assemblages in the history of composition allow English professionals to locate the idea of ecology and sustainability in a writing curriculum? How has ecological thinking been embodied in a writing curriculum? What are the implications of this thinking in composition and writing studies? By drawing from curricular and ideological histories, this study responds to these questions by recognizing and defining a way of knowing called the Ecological Episteme. This study expands upon the historical and theoretical portions of the curricular mantle of ecocomposition set down by Richard Coe in "Eco-Logic for the Composition Classroom," Marilyn Cooper in "The Ecology of Writing," Owens in Composition and Sustainability, Sidney Dobrin and Christian Weisser in Natural Discourse, as well more recent work. It reaches further back into history to view Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson in light of post-Kantian and place-based contexts. Propelled by this history, I identify pathways that will help compositionists to frame a set of heuristics that will lead to an ecological way of knowing. Thus, the heuristics comprise, in part, what I call the Ecological Episteme. The study of Ecological Epistemic thinking can help those in composition and writing studies to avoid getting trapped inside of categorical, linear, dualistic, or mechanized thinking tending to obscure ecological thought. In developing these loose, malleable ideas for ecological thought, I cultivate the idea of clarifying a connective ecological thread that runs through all human beings, including, above all, those who theorize about, teach, and administrate writing. The recovery of such an ecological thread leads to what I call a Literacy of Sustainability.