Waking up in the Anthropocene: Big History and the biosphere
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 01:27 by Richard Blundell
As humanity enters an uncertain time known as the Anthropocene, proponents of an emerging subject called Big History claim it provides a promising educational framework capable of eliciting transformative learning. Yet no one has empirically examined the cognitive elements of that transformation or articulated how it may propagate systemically into broader domains of culture, society or the biosphere; which are issues central to the Anthropocene. This thesis takes a highly reflexive approach to explore how Big History education and the Anthropocene may be meaningfully linked and how such linkages may inform better pedagogical and cultural communication of Big History in the Anthropocene. Much of this research is built on a centrally positioned and empirical qualitative study that revealed several cognitive elements of Big History transformative learning. These included narrative awareness and disruption, urgency and amelioration, reflexivity, causal thinking, empowerment and participation, gratitude and appreciation, transcalar-fractal thinking, and emergent-future thinking. A secondary analysis then revealed how these experiential elements correlate with fundamental perceptual and behavioral changes that experts suggest may form an appropriate response to the Anthropocene. These data and the concepts that emerged over the research were constructed into a general framework that integrates: phenomenology, narrative, tacit knowledge, transformative learning, emergence, transcalar-fractals, enactivism, cybernetics, and systemic reflexivity. This framework may be the first such attempt to explain, with sufficiently broad reflexivity, how the naturalized cosmology of Big History can propagate systemically from personal experience to culture and the biosphere and thus suggest how Big History education can provide an appropriately foundational (i.e. cognitive) response to the Anthropocene.