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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 6. Art and Environmental Education Research: Reflections on Appreciation: Joseph E. Heimlich and Mary Miss


Chapter 6

Art and Environmental Education Research: Reflections on Appreciation

Joe E. Heimlich and Mary Miss

In both the visual arts and environmental education, there are ways to pedagogically intervene regarding engagement with what is considered scenic, or beautiful, or worthy of study (Diessner, Rust, Solom, Frost, and Parsons 2006). In visual arts, it is sometimes an understanding of the technical requirements to create the work that can shift an interpretation of beauty; sometimes it is the story behind the work or the context in which the work was created. In environmental education, it is sometimes in shifting the scale from the macro to the micro that we begin to alter a person’s perspective of what is beautiful. Consider the lovely, tiny blossoms of alpine plants that are almost invisible from a distance, but up close are breathtaking. It can be in the discovery of the complex interrelationships of ecological systems that one might begin to understand the beauty of what might have been overlooked previously.


Years ago, I had just purchased a house with a wonderful view of the city skyline. When my dad came to visit, I excitedly took him up to the third floor and proudly said, “look at the view!” My dad, who was an exceptional vocational agriculture teacher with a deep love of wild areas, looked out the window and simply said, “what view?” How does one learn to appreciate something? Whether it is...

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