Date of Award

11-17-2014

Document Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Community

Department

Department of Educational Leadership, Learning, and Curriculum

Committee Chair

Marcel Lebrun

Committee Member

Michael Fischler

Committee Member

Katherine Donahue

Abstract

Despite decades of economic and medical improvements since the end of World War II, Americans report they are less satisfied with their lives and more unhappy than they were 20 to 30 years ago. Americans in general enjoy a high standard of living, but also report feeling more stressed than individuals living in Third World countries. The spread of this cultural malaise has coincided with American communities across the country reporting a precipitous drop in the level of civic engagement. This has occurred in tandem with the dawning realization that personal happiness and well-being does not correlate with increased income levels beyond the point of meeting basic needs. This research focused on three intentional permaculture communities and determined there were factors of community cohesiveness and commitment that could transfer back into mainstream communities to rejuvenate depleted levels of social capital and civic engagement. Part of the requirement of residency in intentional permaculture communities is the expectation residents contribute to the community and share their life with other residents while leading a sustainable lifestyle. Understanding the organization and structure of life within these communities is of use to mainstream communities as we, as a nation, move toward rebuilding mainstream community structure to enhance individual well-being, increase levels of civic engagement, and move our First World nation into becoming a responsible global partner.

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