Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower


In the midst of a proclaimed crisis in higher education, in the clamor and clamber to leverage technology for such innovations as mass open online courses and differentiated learning modules, in the speculative frenzy of preparing students for the careers of a fantasy future, and in the swirl of angst about funding accountability and economic relevance, Wendell Berry's philosophy of education declares that the essential element missing from most current discussions and considerations of education is love. As explained in his essays and revealed in his fiction and poetry, Berry's philosophy centers on love as the best animator of learning: love among those teaching and learning, love for what can be learned, and love of how such learning can be applied in a beloved place on earth. Further, under his basic assumption that all life--including our own--depends on the earth, Berry's philosophy sets the life and health of the world as the ultimate goal and standard of education. This dissertation makes a comprehensive study of Berry's work, unearthing a philosophy of education from his essays and interviews and placing that philosophy in the context of his fictional world of the Port William neighborhood, where at its best, Port William offers meaning to its people through necessary work done well and an awareness of interdependence and belonging. It is Berry's hope that a realignment of educational priorities, based on love and focused on the health of the world and local place, can lead us to better care of each other and the earth we share.