The transgressive gardener: Cultivating learning-based transformations towards regenerative futures

Thomas Macintyre

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


This doctoral thesis represents a transgressive journey into the nexus between education, sustainability, and climate change. The point of departure is our shared planetary crossroads: Straight ahead we have the paved path of the status quo, replete with socio-ecological injustice, ephemeral prospects of technological salvation, and impending doom for the human race. Branching off to all other sides, however, are the more overgrown and uncertain paths representing alternative futures. In a world seemingly spinning out of control, the question of our time is whether we have the will and drive to step off the known, but destructive path we are on, and into unknown territory. The contention of this thesis is that, yes, such a collective decision is possible, but it depends on our ability to 'transgress' - move beyond - the structures, paradigms, and norms which sustain the status quo. This thesis argues that learning-based transformations are needed for such transgressions to take place, based on disruptive capacity building and action-based change across diverse sectors of society. Represented as a transformation narrative, this thesis is structured around the innovative Living Spiral Framework, co-designed by the author. This thesis follows my learning journey alongside co-researchers as we delve into the emerging theory of transgressive learning, and bring this theory to life through an action-research methodology encompassing community initiatives across Colombia, South America. Beyond providing knowledge insights into transgressive learning between academia and other actors in society, the intention of this thesis is to transgress the traditional Ph.D. thesis format, providing a useful and inspirational format for fellow early career researchers to represent their research and to promote transformations towards more regenerative worlds.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Wals, Arjen, Promotor
  • Tassone, Valentina, Co-promotor
Award date18 Dec 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463952064
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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