Designing for Change: Environmental Education Research and Practice

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شعار المنصة
متاح الآن إلى 2025-08-31
9.00 ساعة تعليمية
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Environmental education (EE) research can create an essential foundation for enhancing and improving programs, and it can support high-quality, theoretically and empirically based evaluation. Engaging with academic research can help EE practitioners more effectively understand how people learn about the environment, connect with the natural world, develop environmental identities, build citizen-action skills, and envision their role as part of a social movement. .

Using strategies from Stanford’s design thinking school (“the”), course participants will learn-by-doing through activities that foster innovative approaches to EE. The course teaches participants how to develop tailored solutions for integrating research into their own EE practice. Participants will leave the session with tools and resources for accessing and applying research.

This course is designed for a range of stakeholders in the EE space: field educators from local, regional, and national organizations; environmental educators who work in a range of settings such as schools, museums, aquaria, zoos, gardens, and parks, among others; funders; and other stakeholders who are interested in infusing their on-the-ground practice with research-informed perspectives.

Given the course’s focus on design thinking, participants are highly encouraged to take the course with a partner. The activities are organized as partner work in order to help participants reflect and gain a deeper understanding of their program needs.

This course was developed by members of Stanford’s Social Ecology Lab led by Professor Nicole Ardoin, including Dr. Mele Wheaton, Dr. Stephanie Rafanelli, Emily Williams, and Marika Jaeger. The course team members are researchers as well as long-time educators working in both formal and informal learning institutions. This course was designed because the Social Ecology Lab work is dedicated to helping make academic research more accessible and usable for educators in a variety of settings.


Mele Wheaton
Mele Wheaton

Dr. Mele Wheaton is the associate director of program strategy with the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), and an interdisciplinary research scholar in the Social Ecology Lab at Stanford University. Her research interests include behavior change, environmental learning, and equity and inclusion in conservation education. Mele currently manages projects including exploring the various pathways to environmental literacy, examining how social sciences are integrated into sustainability research, and connecting research and practice both in education and in conservation land management. Mele has studied environmental behavior change in nature-based tourism, with research sites in Galapagos and California, and examined the development of environmental identity. Prior to academia, Mele taught in a variety of outdoor education settings and worked as a field biologist.

Nicole Ardoin
Nicole Ardoin

Nicole Ardoin, Emmett Faculty Scholar, is the Sykes Family Director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) in the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences. She is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment. Professor Ardoin and her Social Ecology Lab group research motivations for and barriers to environmental behavior at the individual and collective scales. They use mixed-methods approaches--including participant observation, a variety of interview types, surveys, mapping, network analysis, and ethnography, among others--to consider the influence of place-based connections, environmental learning, and social-ecological interactions on participation in a range of environmental and sustainability-related decisionmaking processes. Professor Ardoin and her interdisciplinary group pursue their scholarship with a theoretical grounding and orientation focused on applications for practice; much of her lab's work is co-designed and implemented with community collaborators through a field-based, participatory frame. Professor Ardoin is an associate editor of the journal Environmental Education Research, a trustee of the George B. Storer Foundation, chair of NatureBridge's Education Advisory Council, an advisor to the Student Conservation Association and Teton Science Schools, among other areas of service to the field.