Integrating Ecology and Environmental Ethics: Earth Stewardship in the Southern End of the Americas Page: 234
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To enhance understanding of biocultural diversity, at the Omora Ethnobotanical Park (OEP, 55 degrees south), we developed a
methodological approach that we call field environmental philosophy (FEP; Rozzi 2001). FEP emphasizes ecologically and philosophi-
cally guided field experiences in local habitats, sociocultural communities, and regional institutions and is designed to stimulate the
perception of and valuation of biological and cultural diversity in specific places and moments. To achieve this integration, researchers
at OEP, the University of Magallanes (UMAG), and other academic institutions had to face the challenge of designing new method-
ologies and curricula. As a result, in 2003, we created the first graduate program in southern Patagonia: a masters of science degree
in sub-Antarctic conservation at UMAG.
To incorporate FEP into this graduate program, it was essential to include field experiences in which philosophers, authorities,
students, and other participants had an opportunity to share the biological and cultural singularities of the remote Cape Horn archi-
pelago with members of the Yahgan indigenous community, as well as with ecologists and other researchers. On the basis of these
experiences, we designed new methodologies and curricula, which allowed graduate students to systematically integrate environmen-
tal ethics and ecological research into innovative biocultural education and conservation activities, including ecotourism, through an
interrelated four-step cycle, which we briefly summarize below.
Step 1: Interdisciplinary ecological and philosophical research. Students conduct ecological, ethnoecological, and philosophical
research, including research on the diversity of values and perceptions about biocultural diversity held by participants from different
disciplines, institutions, and sociocultural groups, who speak different languages and hold different forms of ecological knowledge and
Step 2: The composition of metaphors and communication through narratives. Graduate students compose metaphors and narra-
tives with two complementary intentions: to establish an engaging and clearer dialogue with the general public and to integrate the
ecological and philosophical findings (step 1) through analogical thinking that leads to a conceptual synthesis of facts, values, and
action in biocultural education or conservation. The practice of composing metaphors has helped students to understand the dialectic
relationships between inventions and discoveries into their research and conservation work.
Step 3: Field activities guided with an ecological and ethical orientation. For students and other participants in FEP, the experience
of direct or face-to-face encounters with living beings in their habitats has been essential for understanding biocultural diversity not
only as a concept but as an awareness of cohabitating with diverse human and other-than-human beings. Ecologically and philosophi-
cally guided field activities transform not only the knowledge about biocultural diversity but also the ethics of living together with the
diverse inhabitants with whom we coexist in regional ecosystems.
Step 4: Implementation of areas for in situ biocultural conservation. FEP requires students to participate in the implementation of in situ
conservation areas for three reasons: (1) to protect native habitats, species, and ecological interactions; (2) to enable visitors to observe and
enjoy these habitats and ecological interactions; and (3) to foster in the students a sense of responsibility as citizens who are ecologically and
ethically educated and who proactively participate in the care of the diversity of habitats and their various forms of life.
In summary, FEP offers a methodological approach to integrate ecological sciences and environmental ethics at long-term
socioecological research sites through interdisciplinary work that fosters the consideration of interrelated habitats, cultures, and
biological species into a biocultural ethics, which is ecologically and culturally contextualized. The FEP four-step cycle helps
students to gain not only an understanding about scientific and traditional ecological knowledge but also an in situ ethical
the volcanoes). As symbolic (linguistic) and physical (biotic)
bodies, respectively, the logosphere and the biosphere are
interwoven in this profound integration of habitats, habits,
The FEP methodological approach allows students to
gain an experiential understanding of the vital links among
the inhabitants, their habits, and their habitats at the south-
ern end of the Americas, as well as in other regions of the
planet. In the field, researchers and students can perceive
and investigate components and processes of biocultural
diversity that are-inadvertently or deliberately-omitted
in formal education. By integrating their senses and emo-
tions with their rationality, students and researchers achieve
a more integral in situ perception of biocultural diversity.
In this perception, biocultural diversity ceases to be a mere
concept or object of study and begins to be an experience
and awareness of cohabitation with diverse living beings
with their own life histories, which regularly remain outside
the experiential domain of formal education. We add the
adjective environmental to overcome the prevailing modern
reduction of ethics to purely human affairs. FEP is a philo-
sophical practice for epistemological and ethical reasons. We
say epistemologicalbecause students and researchers not only
investigate biological and cultural diversity, but they also
investigate the methods, languages, and worldviews through
which scientific and other forms of ecological knowledge is
forged. We say ethical because the aim is not only to research
and learn about biological and cultural diversity but, fore-
most, to learn to respectfully cohabitate within it (box 1).
Under an FEP approach, Earth stewardship is intended
to maintain not only human welfare but the welfare of
the whole community of life (Rozzi and Massardo 2011).
234 BioScience * March 2012 / Vol. 62 No. 3
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Rozzi, Ricardo, 1960-; Armesto, Juan J., 1953-; Gutiérrez, Julio R., 1953-; Massardo, Francisca; Likens, Gene E., 1935-; Anderson, Christopher B. et al. Integrating Ecology and Environmental Ethics: Earth Stewardship in the Southern End of the Americas, article, March 2012; [Reston, Virginia]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc130199/m1/9/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.