Dissertation Proposal

I’m preparing to begin dissertation work in earnest; this is the latest draft of my proposal (which will evolve as I begin research and writing). I’ll post a little excerpt and here is the full document as a .pdf
“We violated nature and, therefore, if nature is going to be set to rights we would begin by setting it to rights in our own domain”.
—Sir Roy Strong

Working title:
Defining Stewardship: Human Accountability and the Care of Place

The subject of land stewardship (and the broader topic of “environmental stewardship”) is a primary social and environmental issue. This dissertation explores the historical understanding of the word “stewardship” in the context of land management in Scotland. Further, the work examines the implications of the word and concept in the 21st century regarding individual and collective responsibility.

This dissertation shall examine the history and current understanding of the word stewardship as it relates to land “under human care”. The primary consideration shall be who appoints stewards and to what end is their mandate for stewardship (e.g. are stewards appointed communally or self-selected from people who are concerned for the land under stewardship? Do we have a choice to become stewards or are we all, of necessity, stewards at some level?)

The secondary considerations are: What are the responsibilities of humans in relation to the land? Who are the benefactors of stewardship? What historical baggage does this word carry (specifically in Scotland)? How has the Christian concept of “dominion” shaped our current understanding of stewardship? How does one’s belief system inform the activity of stewardship? How does this play itself out in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society? How is the concept of stewardship evolving in the 21st century? With whom are we stewards (e.g. with only fellow humans or are we, in some way, co-stewards with the environment itself [ref. Gaia Theory])?

The topic is vast and will need careful paring for the limitations of this dissertation; it will only tangentially examine the secondary considerations listed above (though each of them could probably become a book-length work). I propose to mainly examine one’s personal obligation for stewardship and how that relates to a community.