- Academic Research
Embodied Environmental Justice: An analysis of the Work That Reconnects to be used as a valuable resource for embodied social and environmental justice
By Kelsey Eaton
Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Community Development in the Office of Graduate Studies of the University of California Davis
The Work That Reconnects is a composition of theories and embodied practices designed to support ecological and social healing through in-person and online workshops, retreats, and events. Joanna Macy and her colleagues created the Work That Reconnects in the 1970s in response to increasing concerns about nuclear war. Since its inception, the Work That Reconnects teachings and practices continue to evolve to help people worldwide address the current injustices of our time. The purpose of this study is to analyze the potential of the Work That Reconnects as a valuable resource for embodied environmental justice, defined as an anti- oppression approach to restoring a balanced relationship with ourselves, our community, and the Earth through connection of the mind, body, and spirit to the more-than-human realm. Centered around social and ecological justice and healing, this study on the Work That Reconnects also contributes to the growing research on an anti-oppression approach to support people through planetary crisis. Eleven interviews were conducted online with people connected to the Work That Reconnects to understand how it impacts their lives and engagement in embodied environmental and social justice. These interviews helped answer the following questions: What attracts people to the Work That Reconnects? What contributes to feeling connected to the Work That Reconnects?, What contributes to feeling disconnected to the Work That Reconnects?, How can the Work That Reconnects be helpful for Embodied Environmental Justice?, and How can the Work That Reconnects be more inclusive?. Findings confirm that Work That Reconnects is a transformative tool for restoring balance with self and Earth. However, it still lacks the centering of social justice to support healing at the community level. Recommendations include increased skillful facilitation and deeper commitments to anti-oppression, restorative justice, and amplification of people of the global majority in WTR.