Introduction: unsettling the ESS curriculum

  • James D. ProctorEmail author
  • Jennifer Bernstein
  • Richard L. Wallace


We launch this mini-symposium, “Status Quo, Conflict, and Innovation in the ESS Curriculum,” with a background and overview of essays, closing with recommendations for future trajectories. The notion of Kuhnian paradigms and the related distinction between settled, “puzzle solving” vs. unsettled, “paradigm shift” moments in the history of knowledge is applied to the Environmental Studies and Sciences (ESS) curriculum to explore its own tendencies toward settlement and unsettlement. We argue that the current moment in ESS is less settled than some believe, and understandably so; moving toward settlement is important and timely, but must be done with proper reflection, which thankfully is evidenced in a range of recent literature. This mini-symposium, which builds upon a number of recent related discussions, includes six articles exploring the contemporary ESS curriculum from a variety of perspectives: high school preparation, the undergraduate student experience, curricular assumptions regarding social change, recent national-scale curricular assessments, the need for greater attention to regionalism, and the creative possibilities afforded by teaching through objects. We ultimately suggest, via this introduction and the following essays, that rather than accept the curricular status quo as a settled trajectory, we can embrace the richness and diversity of current engagement contributing to the future development of the ESS curriculum.


ESS curriculum Paradigm Theory 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Proctor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Bernstein
    • 2
  • Richard L. Wallace
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramLewis & Clark CollegePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Environmental StudiesUrsinus CollegeCollegevilleUSA

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