Transpersonal ecology is a subfield of philosophy and ecology associated with the work of Warwick Fox, although the work of some other people, such as Rupert Sheldrake and James Lovelock, has some relevance to the field. The field might be considered to be one of several Transpersonal disciplines.
Definition and context
According to Walsh & Vaughan, who conducted an extensive review on transpersonal definitions, transpersonal ecology is the study of the ecological dimensions, implications and applications of transpersonal phenomena.
The contribution of Warwick Fox
The contributions of Fox emphasise the importance of experience of nature for an understanding of eco-philosophy. His work shows the influence of Arne Naess. The contributions of Fox to the field are evident in Fox, in an article in which Fox deals with questions of values and nature. This approach to transpersonal ecology met with criticism by Stavely and McNamara, who questioned whether greater respect for nature will necessarily result from cosmological or transpersonal identification with nature, as Fox assumed.
Reception and commentary in academic writing
Although since the early articles in "Journal of Transpersonal Psychology" on this field, few articles appeared on this field in "Journal of Transpersonal Psychology" for the next decade (1992 to 2002), there are signs that there have been recent revivals of interest in this field. For example, Bache, in an article which appears to take a very negative view of how well humans are prepared to an oncoming environmental catastrophe, has compared the likely human response to the concept, in Christian mysticism, of the Dark Night of the Soul, coining the phrase "Dark Night of the Species-Soul" for human response.
More recently, Hutton, in reviewing Fisher's book on the subject, has written very favourably of transpersonal ecology, and notes that while eco-psychology has been around for at least 40, 000 years, it was not until 1992 that Theodore Roszak coined the term "eco-psychology". It would appear in Bache's view that the individual patient in transpersonal therapy should be considered part of the wider community (see Hastings'  review of a book by Bache); this can be extended to think of individual human beings as being part of nature.
Boucovolas, in her paper on how transpersonal psychology may be considered one of a number of transpersonal disciplines, has mentioned transpersonal ecology. It would appear that in the views of both Hutton and Boucovolas, Fox is right to emphasise identification with nature as something which will lead to greater respect for nature (Fox is careful to distinguish "identification" from "identity"), although a greater discussion of what Fox means by "identification" is offered by Stavely and McNamara. Boucovolas also suggests that literature on sacred places, such as that by Paul Devereux, may be germane to this field. Boucovolas also notes how transpersonal social work may relate to this field, insofar as social workers may consider concern for the environment in their discussion of social welfare issues.
Use of psychometric scales
St. John and MacDonald  have proposed the use of psychometrics in transpersonal ecology, designing the 30-item Nature Inclusiveness Measure (N.I.M.) to assess "nature inclusive self-concept", which these authors define as the extent to which individuals "include aspects of nature as residing in their selves" (St. John & MacDonald, 2007, p50). They begin their article in which they propose this scale by referring to related fields such as eco-psychology, the deep ecology movement and eco-philosophy. They note how the eco-psychological model of the self is based on these assumptions:
- The boundary between self and nature is flexible
- A self-concept that is inclusive of nature is linked with increased well-being.
These authors found significant positive correlations between scores on their measure of Nature Inclusive Self-Concept and scores on three scales used in transpersonal psychology, such as the Self-Expansiveness Level Form (SELF) of Friedman (1983; cited in St. John & MacDonald, 2007), the East-West Quesionnaire of Gilgen and Cho (1979) and the Ego Grasping Scale of Knoblauch and Falconer (1986). They also found correlations between scores on their scale and scores on the Mental, Physical and Spiritual Well-Being Scale (MPSWBS). Using factor analysis, they found the NIM yielded two factors, which they called "nature inclusiveness" and "nature stewardship". The first related to a sense of unity with nature; the second related to a belief that humans can take responsibility for environmental matters, and do positive actions to show environmental concern.
- Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. "On transpersonal definitions". Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25 (2) 125-182, 1993
- Fox, W. (1990). Transpersonal Ecology: "Psychologising" ecophilosophy. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 22 (1) 59-96
- Stavely, H. & McNamara, P. (1992). Warwick Fox’s ‘transpersonal ecology’: A critique and alternative approach. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24 (2), 201-211.
- Bache, C.M. (2000). The eco-crisis and spiritual species ego-death: Speculations on the future. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 32 (1) 89-94
- Hutton, M.S. (2003). Review of A. Fisher's "Radical Eco-Psychology: Psychology in the Service of Life". New York, Albany: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-5304-9. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 35(1) 73-75
- Hastings, A. (2003). Review of C. Bache's "Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to an Ecology of the Mind". Albany, New York: SUNY. ISBN 0-7914-4606-9. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 35 (2) 167-168
- Boucovolas, M. (1999). Following the movement: from transpersonal psychology to a multidisciplinary transpersonal orientation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 31 (1) 27-39
- St. John, D. & MacDonald, D.A. (2007). Development and initial validation of a measure of eco-psychological self" Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 39 (1) 48-67.