Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


Edward Van Buren


This paper proposes a return to the land and reconnection of spiritual practices through ethical teachings. Such a land ethic would involve answering the woes of industrial agriculture and providing a framework for farmers, consumers, and policymakers based on sustainable and spiritual considerations of the land. I analyze the loss of spiritual literacy and traditional ecological knowledge in the United States and discuss the spiritual history of agriculture in order to analyze contemporary religious perspectives on farming and agricultural ethics and thereby develop my own recommendations. The land ethic I propose combines sustainability and spirituality to develop intrinsic respect for the land that is currently absent. For many communities, the land is sacred as a life giver. Reconnecting communities back to the land is necessary not only in order to follow the principles necessary for sustainable agriculture, but to transcend commodified environmentalism into an intrinsic ethical and spiritual framework. Chapter 1 uses the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to discuss the loss of spiritual literacy and traditional ecological knowledge in the context of the environmental degradation caused by industrial agriculture. Chapter 2 explores the spiritual history of agriculture. Chapter 3 analyzes spirituality in food production and consumption. Chapter 4 considers different agrarian philosophies and the ethics of factory farming. Using the statistics and critical analysis in Chapters 1 through 4, I then discuss my proposal for a new land ethic based on spiritual sustainable farming and my specific policy recommendations. Drawing upon the research and analysis from previous chapters, Chapter 5 will include a concrete plan for a community based on spirituality and sustainability.