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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 8. Psychological Resilience, Uncertainty, and Biological Conservation: Junctures Between Emotional Knowledges, Nature Experiences, and Environmental Education: Leesa Fawcett and Janis L. Dickinson



Chapter 8

Psychological Resilience, Uncertainty, and Biological Conservation: Junctures Between Emotional Knowledges, Nature Experiences, and Environmental Education

Leesa Fawcett and Janis L. Dickinson

In an uncertain world, what does it mean to be psychologically resilient in the face of an overall loss of biological diversity planet-wide? How do feelings of loss intersect with the practice of environmental education and experiences of nature? What are the emotional and psychological barriers to affective environmental education, education that leads people to challenge the predominant trajectories of overconsumption by some, and environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity for all? These questions preoccupy the authors, who argue that human beings’ death-denying defenses impede creative solutions to biological conservation, and propose that bringing heroic vulnerability, compassion, courage, and hope to dire situations can increase environmental action and learning. In an analysis of some of the psychosocial issues challenging environmental education, the authors examine anthropocentrism, historical perspectives on nature and culture, attachment and detachment from nature, and the vital role of connections to nature in human development. Secular Buddhist psychology and mindfulness training are explored to ameliorate conflicting emotions and ← 159 | 160 → anxious encounters between people and other animals. Focusing on social and ecological interdependence as a key ethical responsibility, while simultaneously attending to conflicting emotions, the chapter ends with 10 suggestions for a transformative environmental education program.

It can be relatively simple to cross disciplines if there is a bounded, common problem that requires specific expertise. However, to...

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