Duncan Taylor

Duncan Taylor
Assistant Professor
Environmental Studies
Office: DTB B252

PhD (History and Environmental Studies) 1985, University of California (Santa Cruz)

Duncan Taylor's academic background is in the history, politics, and philosophy of the environmental movement in North America as well as in the application of systems theory to both social and biophysical issues. He has worked on forestry issues as part of his more inclusive research on the history and development of environmental thought, and in the larger issue of "sustainable development" and the question of what it means to meet of human and biophysical needs.

Duncan Taylor's research on the history and philosophy of the environmental movement and on changing society's values regarding sustainability and resiliency has been important to both scholars and students alike. Moreover, much of his focus has been an exploration of ways to undermine many of the contemporary dualistic and “othering” categories that are imposed upon the human and biophysical worlds as well as ways of learning to conceptualize and experience the potential for more subject-to-subject relationships. 

His recent work has specialized in the application of integral systems approaches to cultural transformation and environmental changes. He is also involved with the application of complexity theory to ongoing adventure therapy programs for adolescents at risk on Vancouver Island. Currently, he is investigating the contemporary relevance of kincentric world views as well as the importance of nature-based contexts for ways of opening to the “inter-flow” between oneself and the non-human living world. In turn, Duncan is now collaborating on a project based in Quebec that is exploring the subversive side of leading immersive virtual reality technologies as a way of paradoxically helping to foster more of these empathetic subject to subject experiences with nature.

Books: Duncan's books include Off Course: Restoring Balance Between Canadian Society and the Environment (International Development Research Centre, 1994), Ecoforestry: The Art and Science of Sustainable Forest Use (with Alan Drengson, New Society Publishers, 1997), and most recently the edited anthology Wild Foresting: Place Based Practices for Diversity and Health (New Society Publishers, 2008). These last two books look at the deep link between human and community health and forest ecosystems.

2015. “Healing Ourselves and Healing the World: Consumerism and the Culture of Addiction”, Journal of Future Studies, Volume 19, Number 3, pp. 77-86, lead author with David Segal.

2010. “The Ecology of Adventure Therapy: An Integral Systems Approach to Therapeutic Change”, Journal of Ecopsychology, Volume 2, Number 2, pp. 77-83, lead author with David Segal and Nevin Harper.

2007. "The Requirements of a Sustainable Planetary System”, Social Alternatives, Volume 26, Number 3, pp. 10-16, with Graeme Taylor as co-author.

2007. "The Collapse and Transformation of Our World”, Journal of Futures Studies: Epistemology, Methods, Applied Alternative Futures, Volume 11, Number 3, pp. 29-45, with Graeme Taylor as co-author.

1994. “Ending the Watershed Battles: B.C. Forest Communities Seek Peace through Local Control” Environments: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Volume 22, Number 3, with Jeremy Wilson as co-author.

1993. “Environmental Health - Democratic Health: An Examination of Proposals for Decentralization of Forest Management in British Columbia”, Forest Planning Canada, Volume 9, Number 2, with Jeremy Wilson as co-author.

1992. “Disagreeing on the Basics: Environmental Debates Reflect Competing World Views”, Alternatives: Perspectives on Society, Technology and Environment, Volume 18, Number 3, pp. 26-33.


  • ES 300A - Environmental Perspectives (core course)
  • ES 300B - Environmental Issues
  • ES 384 - Systems Theory: An Introduction to Natural and Social Systems
  • ES 400A/B - Advanced Systems Theory
  • ES 400C - Systems Theory II
  • ES 412 - Canada in Transition: Ecological Challenge and Societal Response
  • ES 415 - Integral Systems Theory (formerly ES 414) 
  • ES 424 - Deep Roots: Trajectories of Envronmental Thought (formerly ES 404 Discourses of Environmentalism)
  • ES 470 - Advanced Integral Systems Theory and Practice: Field Course