Integral Ecology

"The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them" -- Einstein


Integral ecology is a contemporary field of ecology that emphasizes the existence of multiple valid perspectives, including both scientific and spiritual perspectives. The field grows out of the integral thought of Ken Wilber and subsequent development by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens, Michael Zimmerman and others. Integral ecology is one application of integral theory which provides a four-quadrant view of reality. One of the unifying themes of integral theory is AQAL (all quadrants, all levels).

AQAL acknowledges the complex nature of each quadrant, including the complexity of the natural world, human systems, worldviews and individual perceptions of realty. Modern approaches at solving environmental problems through conflict resolution that attempt to get everyone on the "same page" often fail because individuals are reading different "books."  An AQAL approach incorporates the concept of spiral dynamics, a biopsychosocial systems concept developed by Clara Graves and developed by Don Beck.  The theory of spiral dynamics helps practitioners to articulate a shared vision and meaning among different streams of developmental worldviews, thus promoting increased effectiveness at facilitating a collaborative process.


As a conservation ecologist I use AQAL to address conservation challenges from a broader perspective which helps me: 1)  Understand the context of my work in a more holistic, transdisciplinary setting; 2) Discover connections between scientific information (right side quadrants) and its role in changing individual attitudes (UL) and cultural beliefs( LL); and 3) Devising effective conservation strategies that create synergy between all quadrants and all levels with a shared vision that moves the problem forward. 


Tissot, B. N. 2005. Integral marine ecology: community-based fishery management in Hawaii. World Futures 61: 79-95 PDF

Tissot, B. N. 2009. Integral marine ecology: community-based fishery management in Hawaii. Chapter 13 In S. Hargens and M. Zimmerman. Uniting Multiple Perspectives in the Natural World. Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA. PDF

Click to Explore....

Click to Explore....

The Challenge: Creating mutual understanding of sustainability among our diverse worldviews (click to explore)