What neuroplasticity means for ecology
Future contributions in ecology will be advanced by scholars who can expand the “Age of Reason” legacy that still affects scientific education, inquiry, and debate. Ongoing research into neuroplasticity suggests a cultural basis for human perceptions of environmental conditions. Hence, the two main post-Enlightenment philosophies of nature that underlie contemporary ecological science are limiting. Non-western views on how humans and nature relate will inform productive hypotheses and methods now alien to ecological scholars educated in traditions inherited directly from the scientific revolution. The premise of this synthesis is that science benefits from research studies derived from diverse knowledge systems.
Utopian and utilitarian views of nature are insufficient models for ecology. The Ecological Society of America centennial is an apt time to articulate a broader view and its benefits. Expanding utilitarianism to include reciprocity will yield knowledge useful for civic science.