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Trading Zones in Environmental Education

Creating Transdisciplinary Dialogue


Edited By Marianne E. Krasny and Justin Dillon

Environmental educators often adhere to a relatively narrow theoretical paradigm focusing on changing attitudes and knowledge, which are assumed to foster pro-environmental behaviors, which, in turn, leads to better environmental quality. This book takes a different approach to trying to understand how environmental education might influence people, their communities, and the environment. The authors view changing environmental behaviors as a «wicked» problem, that is, a problem that does not readily lend itself to solutions using existing disciplinary approaches. The book as a whole opens up new avenues for pursuing environmental education research and practice and thus expands the conversation around environmental education, behaviors, and quality. Through developing transdisciplinary research questions and conceptual paradigms, this book also suggests new practices beyond those currently used in environmental education, natural resources management, and other environmental fields.
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Chapter 2. Participation in Environmental Education: Crossing Boundaries under the Big Tent: Jeppe Læssøe and Marianne E. Krasny



Chapter 2

Participation in Environmental Education: Crossing Boundaries under the Big Tent

Jeppe Læssøe and Marianne E. Krasny

Whereas participation is a value and a principle underlying nearly all forms of environmental education (EE), widely divergent views of participation in EE have led to sometimes rancorous debates. In this chapter, we present an overview of four participatory approaches and underlying theories in EE: participation as encounters with nature, participation as social learning, participation as action, and participation as deliberative dialogue. We then make a case for how multiple forms of participation are incorporated into EE programs, using two “transboundary participation” case studies, one from Denmark focusing on community implementation of Agenda 21, and the other from the United States focusing on civic ecology education. We next borrow from conceptual frameworks used in social-ecological systems research to synthesize the literature on participation with the two case examples, and to present conceptual frameworks for transboundary participation, including nested, linked, sequential, and expanding participation in EE. We close by suggesting that our analysis of participatory silos and transboundary practices has implications for understanding the field of EE more broadly, including its multiple goals and diverse practices. ← 11 | 12 →

The process of writing this chapter was in itself participatory, involving ongoing and at times difficult or even frustrating deliberations over the course of over a year between the two authors—one a Danish scholar trained in psychology and now working in environmental sociology and...

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