“What We Have Loved, Others Will Love, and We Will Teach Them How”

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Abstract

This study integrates social science and literary history disciplines to assess the role played by culturally inherited ideas, particularly from literature, in the formation of environmental activists. An empirical study shows that members of Western Australian Transition Initiatives share Romantic ideas of nature sourced from a common ecological imaginary. Comparative literary analysis shows the international organizations’ core documents also share these ideas. This study concludes that the success of the Transition Initiative in Western Australia is due in part to the way the movement operationalizes recruits’ latent environmental activism by appealing to their Romantic ideas of nature. This demonstrates the value of literature in cultivating environmental citizenship.