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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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Conclusion. Do “Arranged Marriages” Generate Novel Insights?: Marianne E. Krasny, Megan K. Halpern, Bruce V. Lewenstein and Justin Dillon




Do “Arranged Marriages” Generate Novel Insights?

Marianne E. Krasny, Megan K. Halpern, Bruce V. Lewenstein, and Justin Dillon

As the chair of the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, I am reminded daily of the challenges of cross-disciplinary work. Our department’s scholarship ranges from mathematical modeling of wildlife and fish populations to the anthropology of climate change in indigenous communities, with forest soils, invasive species, human dimensions of gas shale development, urban social-ecological systems resilience, and environmental education thrown in. Most of us define ourselves according to our individual discipline—be it fisheries biology, environmental ethics, or ecosystems science—whereas a minority, including myself, consider ourselves broadly interdisciplinary given that our scholarship has integrated both the biological and social sciences. Yet, regardless of our differences, we are united by a common mission to collectively apply our individual expertise to the stewardship of natural resources.

In addition to defining departments or faculties such as my own, cross-disciplinarity can be an approach to research, including that designed to address environmental problems. As one example, I was recently invited by a faculty member who studies conservation genetics of oysters in the New ← 253 | 254 → York City estuary to provide a social sciences perspective on an investigation of the motivations of volunteers who help raise the young oysters for release. Often, cross-disciplinary work in academic departments emerges in response to specific funding opportunities or requests from state and federal agencies for help in solving...

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