Teaching to Care for Land as Home

Thinking beyond the Anthropocene in environmental education


  • Alejandra Melian-Morse Department of Anthropology/Faculty of Arts & Science, McGill University, Canada




Capitalocenee Anthropocene, environmental education, outdoor education, climate change, ethnography


Can a feminist, justice-oriented approach to environmental care function through the concept of the Anthropocene? This article argues that by foregrounding girlhood and young women's experiences, an ecofeminist approach to environmental education benefits the outdoor education field and environmentalist action alike. The argument is based on ethnographic research from 2018 at Cottonwood Gulch—an outdoor education program based in New Mexico, USA. It focuses on an all-girls group and the relationships they created with wildlife and wild spaces throughout their time in the outdoors immersion program. The article explores how an ecofeminist approach to the girls' education strengthened their responsible relationships with environments. Cottonwood Gulch created a sense of home in the landscapes it explored, and it encouraged intimacy between participants and between participants and wildlife. Through this approach the girls came to know "land as home" and to understand caretaking as central to ecological responsibility and environmentalism.  The article explores the entanglement of environmentalism and feminism discussed through ecofeminist approaches and problematizes the Anthropocene through this lens. It asks us to look beyond the concept of the Anthropocene and instead take up understanding of the Capitalocene, allowing ecofeminist thought and work to inspire a justice-oriented approach to environmentalism and environmental education. 


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A group of women hike through a sunset wood