Newly Accredited Doctor of Arts (Eco Psychology)

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Garp, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Well, in my own opinion, universities are all sufficiently like corporations that a part of all their decisions has to be "Can we make money at this?"
    I have a hope, naïve perhaps, that they have other motives as well.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Is "ecopsychology" an academic discipline that can be researched at the doctoral level and, thus, be contributed to in order to advance it? This is the basis for the award of a scholarly doctorate. (More on that in a moment.)

    The esteemed sociologist, Howard Becker, in his book The Tricks of the Trade offers us a way to determine whether or not something is a "thing" to be researched: are the right people talking about it? (My paraphrase.)

    The term "ecopsychology," at first glance, appears as a subject of many books and scholarly articles. One would have to explore it further to see if it stands on its own as an academic discipline, or whether it has other theoretical bases--like ecology and psychology (likely).

    The Doctor of Arts, the degree in question, is more of a professional doctorate--as opposed to a scholarly doctorate. It is designed to prepare one to teach the subject in which the degree is awarded, rather than advance it via research. The DA will typically conclude with a doctoral thesis (or comparable project), but it isn't always clear if it is scholarly (advancing theory) or professional (advancing practice). If scholarly, then the subject must also be scholarly in order to, again, advance theory. If professional, the emphasis is on praxis (practice in one's field). This eases the burden quite a bit when considering "ecopsychology" as a research subject. (Assuming it is also a field of practice--not necessarily a safe assumption.)

    Finally, there is the doctoral degree and DEAC. I struggle with the notion that DEAC should include schools offering scholarly doctorates within their accreditation. These schools do not seem to be within the bounds of the academy--their students' research does not contribute to scholarship, nor is it recognized as such. Also, I doubt seriously whether original, scholarly research is an important part of a DEAC-accredited school's faculty work. Finally, graduates from such programs are almost assuredly NOT going to be able to enter the academy, whether or not it is their intention.

    I am comfortable with agencies outside the academy accrediting schools offering the professional doctorate. I feel such research can focus on praxis and contribute to the professional knowledge of career fields supported by it. It doesn't sound like "ecopsychology" fits that description, but perhaps I am mistaken.

    In short, scholarly doctorates in scholarly subjects should be awarded by schools within the academy (not DEAC-accredited schools).
    Professional doctorates awarded for original contributions to practice can be awarded by schools outside the academy, possibly including those accredited by DEAC.

    (None of this should be taken as a judgment of the merits and efficacy of DEAC as an accrediting agency; just its place in the spectrum of higher education.)
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Well there are places that teach ecopsychology, or something quite like it. Schools like Pacifica, CIIS, Naropa, etc. These are what I would consider to be "niche schools" and not general universities so they are not going to appeal to a lot of people. Still, they're all accredited and have been around for years offering these programs and so it's clear that there's sufficient interest to make them sustainable. I don't think that I would ever do one of these programs but my own personal lack of interest doesn't require me to trash the entire field. In my mind it's not substantially different than someone getting a PhD in Philosophy or History or Classical Studies or Art History or any number of other disciplines that do not automatically translate into mainstream careers.
  4. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    I can only think of Huntington as one DEAC school that has made any direct research/development contribution to their field. For the most part, DEAC schools don't have the resources to focus on research, so I agree with Rich that—with perhaps a few exceptions—DEAC schools should stick to professional Doctorates. I also think they should hold off on any Doctoral programs where licensure is important until they can secure the proper programmatic accreditations like some DEAC schools have for Nursing and other health fields.
  5. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    There is also a fair amount of discipline creep in academia. You get someone teaching in a philosophy department but whose PhD is actually in religious studies. Or vice versa. I've likewise seen professors of psychology teaching marketing courses or philosophers doing work that seems more like it is within the realm of sociology. This is only possible within reason as if the change is too extreme one might run up against that 18 credit issue. Beyond the discipline itself, individual research can simply lend well to this (i.e. PhD in Philosophy but you're an expert in Augustine and Aquinas so you teach courses that are categorized as Religion or Theology). My Intro to Bible course at Scranton was taught by a woman with a PhD in Literature, for example. It just so happens that her professional research was focused on one piece of literature, the Bible.

    So too, it would seem that it doesn't matter as much as to whether "ecopsychology" itself is a proper discipline with scholarly research. It's possible someone in that area is actually contributing to the fields of sociology, community development, psychology, philosophy or something like that.

    Just something to consider as we toss around what people might "do" with this doctorate or how it contributes to their field. The field, it seems to me, is highly interdisciplinary in nature (much like philosophy) and so you might have more movement than one might otherwise have in certain disciplines.

    EDIT: Just as an example of what I'm talking about, here is a list of graduates from the Medieval History department at Yale:

    Many went on to teach Medieval Studies. Others went on to teach other disciplines. Some of those actually earned their PhD in another discipline but had an MPhil (coursework) in Medieval Studies. But some not. Some with just their PhD in Medieval Studies went on to teach history, English etc.

    Makes sense. You can study medieval studies and focus your attention on medieval British literature, for example.
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'm pretty sure that DEAC schools are only allowed to offer professional doctorates. That's why you never see a PhD being offered by a DEAC school, it's always DBAs and DAs, etc.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    By degree title, yes. But the distinctions between scholarly and professional degrees have long been blurred. Anthony Peña often made this distinction. IIRC, he did a Doctor of Education, but was required to do a scholarly degree indistinguishable from the PhD. Also, I think it's been cited that Harvard doesn't award a PhD in Education, only the EdD--this because the PhD is awarded only in the arts and sciences. But the degree is decidedly scholarly, not professional.

    Ironically, my degrees are upside-down in this matter. My PhD at Union was very practice-oriented--I made little effort to link my research to the scholarship and theoretical bases for it. It really should have been an EdD.

    But my degree from Leicester--with a degree title connoting a professional degree--was instead a scholarly degree. The University considers it such, and requires the candidate to do scholarly research. They consider it equivalent to the PhD. This is true throughout the UK system.

    In fact, the distinction they make is not one of praxis or scholarship, but instead whether or not the degree is "taught." "Taught" means it has a course component and a smaller thesis--the "small book" approach. (This is the design of almost all doctoral degree programs in the US, even the PhD.) The British PhD follows the "big book" approach--a PhD consisting of only the (much larger) thesis. (One's advisor might stipulate other, extra-curricular learning.)

    So, "small book" is 2-3 years of coursework, followed by a smaller thesis (around 60K words). "Big book" is thesis-only (around 100K words). (The number of words is a maximum, not a minimum. That's actually harder.) Big book gets you the PhD; small book gets you an alternate degree title (DSoSci, DBA, etc.). But the degrees are considered both scholarly and equal. (In the Leicester program, we did an additional 36K words of writing during the taught phase.)

    When I asked what was the difference between the big book PhD thesis and the small book thesis I was required to submit, they said, "It's smaller." Gee, thanks. But the truth is, you do a research topic with a narrower scope and focus. Again, this is really hard and puts pressure on the researcher to squeeze it all in.
  8. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    I am happy to see Dr. Douglas!
    Johann likes this.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Me too. Welcome back, Dr. Rich.
    Phdtobe likes this.
  10. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    How is old double doc Douglas?
  11. laferney

    laferney Member

    If you want real training in Ecopsychology that is cheap, with accredited ceus, certificates or college credit if needed ( through University of the Pacific) and useful in your life I suggest take the courses at Project NatureConnect. They are interesting , include elements of Psychology, Physics, the Arts and Sciences. It is applied ecopsychology- can be used in mental professions for relaxation, stress management, treating seasonal affective disorder and many other psychiatric disorders. The facilitators are available -courses are interactive. It is a real discipline and field of Psychology endorsed by the APA.

    2019 PNC is offering a new course Liberate Your Natural Essence (LNE). 1 Credit Course. For More information or to signup click here.

    ECO 500(A): Explore Nature’s Wisdom. This 4 week training is available for 1 Credit at University of the Pacific. This course introduces Students to the basics of Applied Ecopsychology. For more information click here.

    The Hidden Organic Remedy: Nature as Higher Power Up to 3 Credits possible.

    American Psychological Association Divison 34

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