Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 223-233

First online:

Mālama I Ka ‘Āina, Sustainability: learning from Hawai‘i’s displaced place and culture-based science standard

  • Pauline W. U. ChinnAffiliated withCurriculum Studies, University of Hawaii at Mānoa Email author 

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This response to Mitchell and Mueller’s “A philosophical analysis of David Orr’s theory of ecological literacy” comments on their critique of Orr’s use of the phrase “ecological crisis” and what I perceive as their conflicting views of “crisis.” I present my views on ecological crisis informed by standpoint theory and the definition of crisis as turning point. I connect the concept of turning point to tipping point as used in ecology to describe potentially irreversible changes in coupled social-ecological systems. I suggest that sustainable societies may provide models of adaptive learning in which monitoring of ecological phenomena is coupled to human behavior to mitigate threats to sustainability before a crisis/tipping point is reached. Finally, I discuss the Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s removal of its Indigenous science content standard Mālama I Ka ‘Āina, Sustainability and its continued use in community-based projects.


Sustainability Tipping point Standpoint theory Adaptive learning