Original Research - Special Collection: Religion and Theology and Constructions of Earth and Gender

Investigation into the development of a methodology for the study of environmental discourses

Louisa J. du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 3 | a8105 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i3.8105 | © 2023 Louisa J. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2022 | Published: 31 January 2023

About the author(s)

Louisa J. du Toit, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


The need to decolonise the academy and academic writing requires that methodology for research be chosen carefully. The methodology of a study reflects the researcher’s point of departure or worldview, as well as their belief system. The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically influenced the functioning of higher education institutes, as well as how scholars plan and execute their research. This includes investigation into the global environmental crisis that is widely researched from various disciplines. These disciplines tend to develop and favour different methodologies. The purpose of this presentation was to report on the inquiry into a suitable methodology to study social discourses about the environmental crisis. The methodologies investigated were an eco-linguistic approach to Critical Discourse Analysis, combined with eco-criticism, which was linked to the concept of an eco-sophy, using the framework of Dark Green Religion. The umbrella-concept of Dark Green Religion as a theoretical framework allows the comparison and incorporation of disparate methodologies as well as discourses. This framework also gives prominence to the role of religion in societal response to the environmental crisis. Due to the study being situated in an African context and striving to implement a decolonising discourse, some suggestions were made on decolonising research methodology in higher education.

Contribution: This article’s contribution to new knowledge centred around situating current and new research in Africa in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and deliberating on the impact for future studies. The conclusion was drawn that the COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst for re-interpreting research methodology from a decolonised perspective.


Dark Green Religion; decolonising higher education; ecocritical analysis; ecolinguistics; environmental discourse; methodology.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 13: Climate action


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