October 29, 2020

What is Deep Ecology?

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There are many aspects to environmentalism and environmental studies, which are unique from their focus on changing current perspectives or opening our understanding to other worldviews. Deep Ecology is one of these unique environmental fields from approaching nature as interconnected relationships between us and the environment. As the popular historical environmentalist/conservationist, Aldo Leopold put it, “thinking like a mountain”, to explain how they were connecting their natural observations to ecological patterns and how things interact within nature (Seed, 2019). This field doesn’t see nature as an exploitative resource or mechanical mechanisms that only support humanity (Capra & Luisi, 2014 & Seed, 2019), but that they are infinite processes and aspects that interconnect through a living system of mutual reliances. 

Deep Ecology desires to reconnect humanity to a deeper understanding of our actions. how these actions influence these living relationships within nature, and that humanity is a part of this living system. This field wants humanity to have a holistic and ecocentric perspective of the environment being filled with living relationships of reliance on an interconnected system of microorganisms, floras, faunas, watersheds, landscapes, climates, and planetary feedback loops (Capra & Luisi, 2014). All these various aspects of nature contribute to one another and that humanity needs to remember that the world doesn’t only center around themselves. 

Importantly, these living relationships are significant for the survival of humanity, our local environment, and the entire earth. There are many social justice movements, environmental activism, and alternative concepts that have been influenced or similar to deep ecology.

  • Radical Ecological Democracy 
  • Natural Rights 
  • Alter-Globalization Movement
  • Eco-Anarchism
  • Eco-Socialism
  • Biocivilization
  • Solidarity Economics 

Overall, deep ecology teaches that we have to develop respectful conscience to these relationships with nature and learn how to coexist without exploitation (Seed, 2019). This field is similar to the goals of Save Our Canyons (SOC) from opposing the human-centric ideals of nature as an infinite resource, stopping the segregation of humanity from the environment, releasing us from depersonalization of the living ecosystems, and fighting against the fetishization of ecological destruction for development. You may be wondering why I am talking about Deep Ecology? That’s because as the SOC Fall Community Engagement and Outreach Intern, I am launching a Deep Ecology Campaign to engage the community, volunteers, youth, and other communities about their relationships with the canyons and nature. There are three goal to the Deep Ecology Campaign:

  • Engage people's natural voices through personal images and reflective storytelling
  • Interconnect perspectives with nature and understand the diversity around us
  • Support the Canyons with reconnecting ourselves deeper with nature and our community relationships

Just like how Leopold had talked about ‘thinking like a mountain’ (Seed, 2019), I want people to create narratives around thinking like the canyons and connect your relationships. I can't wait to read your natural stories and let’s begin the campaign. The first part of this campaign will start with engaging the SOC community, which an email and instagram posts will be sent out with descriptions of what to expect for this campaign. 

SOC Community Questions & Guidelines 

Community Questions:

  • What are the deep relationships of the SOC community?(Ex. Family, Friendship, Belonging, Sanctuary, and etc.)
  • When did you feel a connection to our community or the canyons? (Ex. Recreation, Environmental Activism, Stewardship, and etc.)
  • How have these community relationships and connections made you a part of the canyons?

Guidelines for Deep Ecology Photo Voice Storytelling:

  • Reflect on the community questions and find a picture that connects with your reflection.
  • Once you have a picture or personal image, then start thinking about how you will tell your story. 
  • Your storytelling can be a short story, poem, idea, or memory.
    • If you writing your photo voice story then it has to be <100 words 
    • If you are sending a video, then it has to be 1-2 minute
  • Once you are ready to share your story, send it to this email,
    • Don't forget to share your picture in your email..
    • Please add your name and an email address, so I can thank you later.


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While I was doing field research in Northern Mongolia for three months, I developed close relationships with my natural surroundings by feeling a sense of communal belonging and responsibility. This belonging came from connecting with my fellow researchers, professors, local rangers, and the species that I knew were roaming, living, or watching us. I started to understand that my surroundings were the most important thing that draws people and other parts of nature together to create a community. Also, I developed a sense of responsibility to keep these nature spaces safe and continuously respect them through activism or research. It became my duty to remind others of how connected we are to nature and that we are a part of this interconnected living planetary system. 

-Elliott Parkin


Capra, F. & Luisi, P. (2014). The systems view of life, introduction: paradigms in science and society. Cambridge University Press.

Seed, J. (2019). Deep ecology. In Kothari, A., Salleh, A., Escobar, A., Demaria, F., & Acosta, A.   (Eds.), Pluriverse: a post-development dictionary. Tulika Books.

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