Eco-Complexity Discourses


Understanding ecologies (of lifeforms, ideas, complex systems, etc.) as dynamic, learning phenomena

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possibilities
  • Knowing is … viability-maintaining functioning
  • Learner is … an ecosystem
  • Learning is … evolving; selecting, blending, and refining possibilities
  • Teaching is … designing experiences (orienting, juxtaposing)




Eco-Complexity Discourses is a sub-category of Coherence Discourses. It is an umbrella term that reaches across perspectives on learning that refuse separations of human from nature, material from transcendent, and part from whole. Across Eco-Complexity Discourses, learning is understood as synonymous with evolution.


Different Eco-Complexity Discourses attend to, grapple with, and prompt different issues – and so it doesn’t make much sense to attempt a general commentary. There are few robust criticisms of Eco-Complexity Discourses, as most negative remarks are anchored to deep-seated metaphysical assumptions that rely on such dichotomies as human/natural, part/whole, and material/transcendent.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2019). “Eco-Complexity Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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