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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 9. Art and Environmental Education Research: Reflections on Place: Joseph E. Heimlich and Mary Miss


Chapter 9

Art and Environmental Education Research: Reflections on Place

Joe E. Heimlich and Mary Miss

Interpreting art, as in making meaning of any new experience, requires the individual to enter into a personal dialogue with the work from the perspective of who they are—the sum of their prior experiences (Piaget 1977). In the environmental education arena, it is often assumed that the sum of one’s prior experiences relates in a causal manner to the “place of who one is,” which in turn is the same as place identity. But place also brings with it the concept of connection to a place—or place attachment—and the degree to which one feels he/she belongs in and to a particular environment or geographic spot, the sense or meaning of place.

Place identity refers to the emotional and physical connections one makes with a neighborhood, house or building, community, city, or area. Place is important as it has meaning in providing emotional stability and a context within which the individual acquires knowledge through experiences of the senses (Read 2007). Gustafson (2001) cautioned that there are many, divergent definitions of sense of place and place identity, and there also appears to be confusion in defining sense of place, place attachment, and place identity (Manzo 2003; Kyle, Mowen, and Tarrant 2004). Hernandez, Hidalgo, Salazar-Laplace, and Hess (2007) argue, however, that place attachment and place identity overlap because studies often focus on those who have lived...

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