Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ellen A. Herda

Second Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Third Advisor

Stephen Cary


Research Topic

Human imagination, an ethical aim and action are the progenitors for reconciliation between humans and their environment. Two examples of such reconciliation are found in Brazil and are the result of the tireless work of an American Nun, Sister Dorothy Stang and the staff of the Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Research and Conservation Center. The present inquiry portrays the history, current programs, and the potential for the findings to shape the lives of those committed to work toward creating a balance between human endeavors and sustainable environments.

Theory and Protocol

This research is grounded in critical hermeneutics and follows an interpretive approach to field research and data analysis (Herda 1999). This orientation places the researcher and participants in a collaborative relationship that exemplifies the power of conversation and the importance of language to unveil new understandings about our world.

Research Categories

Three primary critical hermeneutic concepts, drawn from the theory of Paul Ricoeur (1992), provided the categories for this research. These categories served as the boundaries for both data collection and analysis: Ethical Aim, understood from a critical hermeneutic orientation, promotes living with and for others in a socially just manner; Imagination is the creative act of envisioning a different future that can be inhabited; and Praxis fosters the practical application of ethical aim and imagination through action.


The participants, who lived their ethics daily in the practical application of sustainable practices, argued that we must collectively re-imagine what it means to be interconnected with the earth, because the current one-sided relationship between humans and their environment is unsustainable. The following findings were derived from the conversations with participants: (1) sustainable praxis is the responsibility of everyone; (2) education can lead to sustainability in real world contexts; (3) an ethical aim includes esteem for people and the earth’s resources.

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Education Commons