Development’s Socio-Ecological Perils: A Study of Our Transmuting Human Condition

We, as a global community, are perhaps at a pivotal point in our history. The economic market related decisions that humans have been making for generations are rendering like never before notable effects on our natural environment and overall societal functioning.  Micro-scale “development” impacts are evermore conglomerating and generating tangible macro-scale global footprints, and vice versa.

Our human condition is changing in form, nature, and substance. This is perhaps an alchemical transmutation, as we are interacting with a globalized world to the extent that humanity has never experienced. If we are going to cultivate creative solutions to global challenges, is it prudent that we consider the roots of prominent global issues?

This mixed methods thesis, conjoining civil documentary journalism with the academic lenses of environmental and social science, explores this inquiry by focusing primarily on the ‘de’ of development. What is the capitalist global market system unfastening from our vitally important human cultures and life-sustaining “natural” ecosystems; what are the replacements? What does this supposedly glorious, seemingly with no destination, march toward “progress” mean for Us all?

As a context for investigating how perhaps all of humanity is being continually impacted by development and modernity related phenomena, we journey into the high mountains of northern Thailand. There, the traditional lifestyles of ethnic indigenous peoples are rapidly vanishing. Aspects of a homogenizing global culture are perforating their socio-fabric and shifting centuries of learning and indigenous knowledge aside. Villagers from an age range inform us about this.

Foundationally considering the imperialization and rural domestic development policies governing the land under villagers’ feet, I longitudinally overlay socio-ecological change related phenomena in ways that bond notions of humans’ inextricable connection with each other, with our environments, and how changes in one aspect resultantly impact the others.

This research project is about our human condition. Its goals are rooted in illustrating how we, communally sharing Planet Earth as a global village, are together being impacted by our collective actions. This societally unifying initiative has great potential for cultivating intercultural understanding, nourishing human healing, and building social capital.

Humankind, as it always has, can determine its destiny. … May we choose wisely.

Keywords: economic development; capitalism; modernity; social-ecological systems; ecosystem services; millennium ecosystems assessment (MEA); resilience; indigenous, Thailand; Thailand highlands, top-down government, Pumuen; panarchy; natural resource management; environmental governance

de of development download

Above is a produced video (with documentary style multimedia) of my thesis defense presentation, whereby my overall body of Work is revealed.
An additional lecture style video is also available.

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During a global era of increasing political tension and societal unrest, this research, culture preservation, and social capital building initiative is tending to this world We as a global community share.
BECOME INVOLVED (click here)