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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Nature immersion: A model of sustainability education
by Crede, Janice Lynn, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2009, 289; 3354725
Abstract (Summary)

Education plays an important role in the way people view their relationship to the natural world. It is important that we include concepts of sustainability in formal education, and my focus is in higher education. People tend to protect that with which they feel most connected, and creating opportunities where people can become immersed in the natural world allows them to feel that connection with nature. A nature immersion model recognizes the value of sustainable pedagogy and emphasizes human reconnection with nature. I believe that a nature immersion model of sustainability education works better than a traditional, Western pedagogical model.

To test my hypothesis, I designed and implemented two week-long Leadership in Sustainability seminars, held at a local field station. A pre-seminar self-evaluation, a post-seminar self-evaluation, and a follow-up survey informed my findings and support my theory. This was a mixed methodology study, mainly qualitative in nature, utilizing a constructivist interpretive paradigm and a convenience sample.

The findings indicate that a nature immersion model of sustainability education is much more effective than a traditional pedagogical model. Nature immersion was cited by all seminar participants as the single most important factor in the overall success of the seminar and, therefore, student learning. The seminar experience was an important catalyst for the long-term benefit of changing attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles toward more sustainable living. It motivated participants to take on leadership roles in sustainability and encouraged them to become better stewards of the planet. The experience also enhanced their social relationships and deepened their sense of responsibility toward others.

Education must change in a way that first recognizes the value of our innate connections with the natural world, and sustainable education is integral to the process. Because sustainability is trans-disciplinary, this model can easily be translated into other disciplines of study. In fact, it should be incorporated across the curricula of higher education (if not all education) to support a systems approach to thinking and learning about sustainability - a requirement for effective sustainability education to take place.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Medrick, Rick
Commitee: Cox, Ted, Scheibe, Margaret, Townsend, Richard
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Teacher education, Curriculum development, Higher education
Keywords: Ecopsychology, Leadership in Sustainability, Nature and education, Nature immersion, Reconnecting with nature, Sustainability education, Sustainable education
Publication Number: 3354725
ISBN: 978-1-109-11958-9
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