How can we best approach the increase in eco-anxieties as part of sustainable, generative education in universities or other key teaching locations? The term eco-anxiety refers to being concerned or worried about the future of Earth, and ecoanxieties affect in particular young people. Countering ecoanxieties is part of becoming response-able and earthbound, as Haraway and Latour would say. The proposition raised here is to move toward activating different modes of bodily presence and ecosystemic awareness, as key components of building sustainability education. The proposition draws on long-term research work around body-ecology relations, and especially the recent discoveries around fascia, our bodily connective tissue-system and largest sensory organ. Fascia tissues inspire an interdisciplinary approach for educational institutions to moderate the (destructive) effects of contemporary ecological changes on students’ wellbeing. Developing novel vocabularies around how human bodily presence is embedded in the environments that are giving rise to ecoanxiety, such as bodying, contributes to SDG 4 and transformative and lifelong learning.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Both spellings are commonly used: eco-anxiety or ecoanxiety, and I use them interchangeably in this article.
www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/10/overwhelming-and-terrifying-impact-of-climate-crisis-on-mental-health; www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/20/half-of-child-psychiatrists-surveyed-say-patients-have-environment-anxiety?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other; www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-real-cure-for-covid-is-renewing-our-fractured-relationship-with/?fbclid=IwAR3duxY43jnQYJ0ny0B7L38tjWUs-n5kwClHVH2Uv7-p_SJmZifMXwIAGpI.
Note here also the (anthropological) distinction between the pair of terms disease and illness, whereby disease is defined as a biological and biochemical malfunction. Illness is what the patient feels, within their cultural context (Strathern and Stewart 2010).
For example, stereotypes or prejudices, based on racial or other grounds, often arise from a feeling, a bodily sensation that leaves you feeling uncomfortable (Allport 1954) (author’s work).
The outermost layer is known as the hypodermis or ‘superficial fascia’ and has a spongy quality and yellow colour. The second level is the filmy and ‘membranous fascia’ which is like gauze with stretchy, wet, slippery, gelatinous qualities. The third layer is known as ‘deep or dense fascia’ which is both elastic and grid-like, stable like strapping tape and white in colour. These descriptions were presented by integral anatomist Gil Hedley at the British Fascia Symposium, Worcester, June 25–26, 2016. See also www.gilhedley.com, and an interview the author conducted with Gil about fascia: Hedley (2019).
The push-and-pull keeping the fascial system both stable and moving, have been conceptualized as biotensegrity (Levin 2002), the application of tensegrity already known in architecture as Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome. With fascia, also called the ‘organ of form’ (Varela and Frenk 1987) it has been shown how tensegrity extends to the cellular level (Ingber 2003).
Latour develops his argument through a critical assessment of James Lovelock’s Gaia theory.
Albrecht G (2012) Psychoterratic conditions in a scientific and technological world. In: Kahn PH Jr, Hasbach PH (eds) Ecopsychology: science, totems, and the technological species. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 241–264
Allport GW (1954) The nature of prejudice. Addison-Wesley, Cambridge, MA
Barcan R (2011) Complementary and alternative medicine: bodies, therapies, senses. Berg, Oxford
Bendell J, Carr K (2021) Group facilitation on societal disruption and collapse: insights from deep adaptation. Sustainability 13(11):62–80
Bina O, Pereira L (2020) Transforming the role of universities: from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution. Environ Sci Policy Sustain Dev 62(4):16–29
Clark N, Szerszynski B (2021) Planetary social thought: the Anthropocene challenge to the social sciences. Polity, Cambridge
Cunsolo A, Ellis NR (2018) Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss. Nat Clim Chang 8(4):275–281
Cunsolo A et al (2020) Ecological grief and anxiety: the start of a healthy response to climate change? Lancet Planet Health 4(7):e261
Deleuze G (1992) Postscript on the societies of control. October 59:3–7
Dumit J, O’Connor K (2016) The senses and sciences of fascia: a practice as research investigation by Joseph Dumit and Kevin. In: Hunter L, Krimmer E, Lichtenfels P (eds) Sentient performativities of embodiment: thinking alongside the human. Lexington Books, pp 35–54
Edwards J, Marinelli E (eds) (2018) Higher education for smart specialisation: a handbook (version 1.0). European Commission, Seville
Göpel M (2016) The great mindshift. Springer International Publishing, Cham
Hanna T (1970) Bodies in revolt: a primer in somatic thinking. Holt Reinhart, New York
Hanna T (1986) What is somatics? Somatics V(4):4
Haraway D (2016) Staying with the trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C
Hedley G (2019) Integral human anatomy, fascia and the link between body fat and consumer culture. Somatics Toolkit Podcast Series “Remember-Your-Body”. http://somaticstoolkit.coventry.ac.uk/s02-episode-1-gil-hedley-integral-approach-to-human-anatomy/. [Stand 2019-09-03]
Ingber DE (2003) Tensegrity II. How structural networks influence cellular information processing networks. J Cell Sci 116(8):1397–1408
Kahneman D (2003) Maps of bounded rationality: psychology for behavioral economics. Am Econ Rev 93(5):1449–1475
Knight R et al (2017) The microbiome and human biology. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet 18(1):65–86
Kuriyama S (1999) The expressiveness of the body and the divergence of Greek and Chinese medicine. Zone Books, New York
La Puig de Bellacasa M (2017) Matters of care: speculative ethics in more than human worlds. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London
Langevin HM (2006) Connective tissue: a body-wide signaling network? Med Hypotheses 66:1074–1077
Latour B (2017) Facing Gaia: eight lectures on the new climatic regime. Polity, Cambridge
Lesondak D (2018) Fascia: what it is and why it matters. Handspring, Pencaitland
Levin SM (2002) The tensegrity-truss as a model for spine mechanics: biotensegrity. J Mech Med Biol 2(3n4):375–388
Louv R (2010) Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Atlantic Books, London
Manning E (2009) Relationscapes: movement, art, philosophy. MIT Press, Cambridge
Margulis L, Sagan D (2000) What is life? University of California Press, Berkeley
Mauss M (1979 ) Sociology and psychology: essays. Transl. by Ben Brewster. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London
Meadows DH, Wright D (2009) Thinking in systems: a primer. Earthscan, London
Mezirow J (1997) Transformative learning: theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 74:5–12
Myers TW (2001) Anatomy trains: myofascial meridians for manual and movement therapists. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh
Pihkala P (2020) Eco-anxiety and environmental education. Sustainability 12(23):10149
Rockström J, u.a. (2009) Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecol Soc 14(2):32
Schleip R (2012) Introduction. In: Schleip R, u.a. (Hg.) Fascia: the tensional network of the human body. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, Edinburgh, pp xv–xviii
Schleip R (2017) Fascia as a sensory organ. In: Liem T, Tozzi P, Chila AG (eds) Fascia in the osteopathic field. Handspring, Edinburgh, pp 57–78
Schultz RL, Feitis R (1996) The endless web: fascial anatomy and physical reality. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley
Selver C, van Brooks C (2007) Reclaiming vitality and presence: sensory awareness as a practice for life. Enfield, Berkeley
Sharkey J (2019) Regarding: update on fascial nomenclature-an additional proposal by John Sharkey MSc, Clinical Anatomist. J Bodyw Mov Ther 23(1):6–8
Stecco C, u.a. (2018) Update on fascial nomenclature. J Bodyw Mov Ther 22(2):354
Strathern A, Stewart PJ (2010) Curing and healing: medical anthropology in global perspective, Carolina Academic Press ethnographic studies in medical anthropology series, 2nd edn. Carolina Academic Press, Durham
UNESCO (2017) Education for sustainable development goals: learning objectives. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002474/247444e.pdf
van der Wal J (2017) The fascia as the organ of innerness: an holistic approach based upon a phenomenological embryology and morphology. In: Liem T, Tozzi P, Chila AG (eds) Fascia in the osteopathic field. Handspring, Charmouth
Varela F, Frenk S (1987) The organ of form: towards a theory of biological shape. J Soc Biol Syst 10(1):73–83
Wahl DC (2016) Designing regenerative cultures. Triarchy Press, Charmouth
Walla N (2012) Body as place: a somatic guide to re-indigenization. In: Keogh M (ed) Hope beneath our feet: restoring our place in the natural world. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, pp 260–273
Weig D (2020) Fascias: methodological propositions and ontologies that stretch and slide. Body Soc 26(3):94–109
Weig D (2021) Tensional responsiveness: ecosomatic aliveness and sensitivity with human and more-than. Transcript, Bielefeld
Wilson EA (2015) Gut feminism. Duke University Press. (Next wave: new directions in women’s studies)
Zhao Q et al (2021) Global, regional, and national burden of mortality associated with non-optimal ambient temperatures from 2000 to 2019: a three-stage modelling study. Lancet Planet Health 5(7):e415
Editors and Affiliations
Rights and permissions
© 2022 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this entry
Cite this entry
Weig, D. (2022). Sustainability Futures: Bodying Challenges and Opportunities Toward a More Generative World. In: Leal Filho, W., Azul, A.M., Doni, F., Salvia, A.L. (eds) Handbook of Sustainability Science in the Future. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-68074-9_92-1
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-030-68074-9
Online ISBN: 978-3-030-68074-9
eBook Packages: Springer Reference Earth & Environm. ScienceReference Module Physical and Materials Science