Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Rebecca A. Martusewicz, Ed.D., Chair

Committee Member

Ethan Lowenstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Williams, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary E. Marx, Ed.D.


Education can have a tremendous impact on how we, as humans, understand and relate to each other and the larger environmental systems to which we belong. In efforts to address the role of education in alleviating and eliminating social suffering and environmental degradation in many of the worlds’ diverse communities, the purpose of this critical ethnographic case study is to qualitatively examine the design of an intermediary organization within the context of eco-democratic reform.
The study involved observation, interviewing, and analysis that included personal narrative accounts from 12 key members in the organization and their thick descriptions of the design and function of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS). The study explores new territories for community-based collaborations and examines the complexity of such initiatives, while focusing on professional development and adult learning framed by an EcoJustice Education approach to place-based education. The study illustrates the identity of SEMIS as a learning organization with a strong commitment to designing and providing sustained professional development in the region. The deep design of SEMIS offers insight into the structure and the complexity of the networks of learning relationships in this intermediary organization. Major contributions from this case study include a) an organizational history of SEMIS; b) an articulation and analysis of the SEMIS sustained professional development; and c) a unique learning model for the development of an eco-ethical consciousness. The study presents the examination and analysis of a unique intermediary organization in the context of eco-democratic reform and illustrates both the design and the complex approach to the work in SEMIS.

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