To be frank ecological thinking is: thinking ecologically. The word to define here is ecological. I think perhaps the term is a bit tricky to understand at first, as we commonly associate ecological with environmental. Environment and ecology are related, however they are not the same thing. Ecology describes the relationship and interaction between things and their environment. It’s misleading to say that environment is nature (our physical world). An environment could be sociological, economical, cultural, linguistic, etc. Whatever the playing field is ecological thinking describes everything in that environment as being interconnected. As a metaphorical example we are all part of a net. Each object is a node, connected to at least one other node. If someone were to pull on that node, it would pull the rest of its connections with it, and those connections would pull on theirs and so forth. In essence the actions and effects of one thing will be felt throughout the environment and all those things that reside in it.
Ecological thinking comes in contrast to typical analysis of subjects through a singular and focused view point. Instead of breaking situations into smaller parts and simply focusing on that sole part, ecological thinking aims to do the reverse by acknowledging that the individual is part of a greater whole and that to seek an optimal solution we must look at the interaction between parts in a system. With the absence of ecological thinking we do not think of all possible routes to our goals and thus jump on the first solution that presents itself. By simply solving the problem in relation to one part of a system you are effectively ignoring the effects it will have on the rest of the environment. The solution creates more problems.
By evaluating a variety of different solutions, keeping in mind the effects on its immediate relationships, one can extract what works and discard what doesn’t. Ecological thinking is the realization that things are interconnected, that action is relayed along these connections and to seek an optimum environment we must recognize these points.
Mitchel Resnick, Thinking Like A Tree, <http://llk.media.mit.edu/courses/readings/thinking-like-tree.pdf>
William McDonough, William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle Design, <http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/william_mcdonough_on_cradle_to_cradle_design.html>, TED Conferrences
Lila Pine, “What is Ecological Thinking?”, <https://mpm17fall2009friday.wordpress.com/>, 2009
Wikipedia, “Systems Thinking”, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking>, Wikipedia: The free Encyclopedia
Wikipedia, “Holism”, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holism>, Wikipedia: The free Encyclopedia
Peter H. Marshall, Nature’s Web: An Explanation of Ecological Thinking, Simon & Schuster, 1992, Print
Andrew Edgar, Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts, Routledge, 2008, Print
Lorraine Code, Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location, Oxford University Press, 2006
Shoshana Ḳeiny, Ecological Thinking: A New Approach to Educational Change, University Press of America, 2002