Turning the Tide of Disease, Disasters and Climate Change Challenges: Utilising Transformative Practices to (Re)establish Harmonious Relationships

Around the world, human suffering is growing and human survival is increasingly threatened. Mental and physical disease is raising at alarming rates. Climate change is escalating the frequency, duration and severity of geological and meteorological processes, resulting in increasingly devastating natural disasters. A failure to recognize the intimate and interdependent relationships between humans and nature has resulted in humans increasingly living separated from the rest of nature and in disharmonious relationships with nature, themselves and others.

These increasingly disharmonious relationships are contributing to an ever more dangerous countertrend: people and societies are losing adaptive capabilities and resources whilst natural process are becoming more hazardous. To stem this tide, humanity needs to urgently (re)establish harmonious relationships with nature and (re)learn to live in harmony with nature. Harmonious human-nature relationships facilitate health and well-being, enhance a wide variety of adaptive capacities, and contribute to preventing extreme natural events and to reducing the risk of extreme natural events turning into disasters.

However, (re)establishing people living in harmony with nature requires a transformation of the fundamental beliefs people living in Western countries commonly hold about the origins and nature of the universe, and the nature of reality and knowledge. In this presentation, I offer a review of the relevant literature and propose a synergy of educational ecological-cultural travelling and exchange, creative and arts therapy/healing, and engaging with Indigenous worldviews, knowledges and practices as a promising transformative pathway for accomplishing this philosophical paradigm shift. I also introduce an Indigenist participatory action research (PAR) that aims at identifying the factors and processes facilitating these transformative pathways. This research facilitates Indigenous ecological-cultural education exchanges between Australian and Taiwanese peoples and uses creative or arts therapy/healing to enhance the transformative power of these exchanges. This long-term, emerging community-based PAR is co-created, co-implemented and co-evaluated by a team of Australian and Taiwanese Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, researchers and practitioners.


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