Term

Spring 2017

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Laura Halldin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Angie Timmons

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Patience Caso

Abstract

This project addressed the research question: what are the most effective strategies for a local government agency to support partner organizations in implementing environmental education for youth? Environmental education partners from a large county in Minnesota participated in group conversations to explore questions related to the definition of, benefits of, barriers to and strategies for environmental education. Additional research methods included a pre-questionnaire to learn more about the group conversation participants and an online survey to get broader participations and prioritize the goals, key elements, topics, benefits, barriers and strategies for environmental education. The project results were compared to information gathered from experts in the environmental education field both locally and nationally, including Athman and Monroe, Bodzin et al., Kennedy and Stromme, Ledermann, Monroe and Krasney, the North American Association for Environmental Education, the National Environmental Education Advisory Council, the National Environmental Education Foundation, and the United Nations. The definition, goals and key elements of environmental education described by project

participants focus on motivating behavior change, developing critical-thinking, problem- solving, and decision-making skills, fostering a connection to the environment and

supporting lifelong learning. This aligns closely with the definition of environmental education established more than 40 years ago by the Tbilisi Declaration. Important benefits of environmental education include increasing interesting in taking action to protect the environment, promoting well-being, increasing understanding of real-world issues, helping people understand their connection to the environment, and improving engagement in learning. Project participants highlighted barriers to environmental education presented by participants, including lack of interest, challenges with making environmental issues relevant, and cultural barriers. Additional barriers include defining and integrating environmental education, lack of educator time, knowledge and interest, and lack of leadership support and resources. Strategies suggested to enhance and improve environmental education include supporting partnerships and program development, defining and championing environmental education, developing local and relevant resources, changing curriculum and standards, and providing professional development and networking opportunities.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire), facilitated conversations, World Cafe conversations

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