Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Rebecca Martusewicz, EdD

Committee Member

Virginia Lan, PhD

Committee Member

Ethan Lowenstein, PhD

Committee Member

Barbara Scheffer, EdD

Committee Member

Gary Schnakenberg, PhD


The concept health is constructed within socioeconomic, political, cultural, and ecological contexts that affect how personnel in the medical and nursing fields practice. The idea of health and its associated practices in Western countries has arisen from modernist discourses such as mechanism and rationalism, which further support a capitalist economic system that stresses efficiency, specialization, and volume for profit. In Western industrial cultures in particular, health is primarily driven by consumerism and market forces and is generally defined within two categories: wellness and illness.

To explore this concept further, I interviewed seven nurse scholars who see health in a different way as they challenge and resist the dominant discourses that contribute to the common definition of health in nursing education (i.e., merely the absence of disease). I apply the methodologies of case studies and critical discourse analysis, which is an inherent part of an EcoJustice Education theoretical framework.

The study provides a powerful case that helps nurse educators understand the key components of the EcoJustice Education theoretical framework in order to guide reforms in nursing education’s perspectives on health. The scholars provide us with examples of what is at stake if we do not shift from the current mindset in nursing education (i.e., one that does not consider the environment as a vital member on this planet) to a perspective that includes the full consideration of nursing education’s position on health within the larger set of social and ecological crises. Once nurse educators understand the social and ecological connection along with the detrimental effects of the current state of numbness to that connection, they can begin to create a different way to see health.