Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kelly . Clark/Keefe


This dissertation utilizes an autoethnographic methodology to explore experiences and memories from my own life, while applying a critical cultural and multidisciplinary lens to tell a story about how (un)learning is intertwined with living. By creating a story combining autobiographical elements, science fiction, and cultural critique, this work both draws the reader into reimagining what is possible (Dixon-Romån, 2017), while encouraging the reader to step outside of the conventional modes of academic learning, just as I did in writing it (Sousanis, 2015). This autoethnography includes five encounters inspired by Styres (2017) framework for centering indigeneity in learning (Adams & Jones, 2011; Ellis, 1995). Each encounter engages different embodied experiences (e.g. physical, cognitive, emotive, natural, and spiritual), and aligns it with personal memories that explore the realities and potentialities of trying to belong. This begins with my own self-identities and spirals outwards to include my role amongst various species, with others in society at large, across the planet, and in the Universe most broadly. Specifically, this research asks the question: what is it that I need to (un)learn to belong?

This is just one story. It’s my story. So, while it is perhaps not broadly generalizable even for those individuals sharing pieces of my identities that often box us in, the knowledge produced through this type of critical and creative scholarship offers a generative path so “that others can take [it] in and use [it] for themselves… the kind of understanding that make[s] me want to do as well as understand” (Ellis, 2002, p. 401 & 404). By engaging and creatively analyzing content such as: my queerness, my settler colonial positionality, my whiteness, and my complicity in climate change I share the (un)learning I needed to start belonging better in this world. The fifth and final encounter attempts to share an experience of the spiritual all around us, all the time. By imagining a space where all beings are held sacred, it is my hope that we begin to see the possibilities of what we need to (un)learn to belong together.



Number of Pages

134 p.

Included in

Education Commons