This study describes exploratory qualitative research of North Carolina certified environmental educators’ conceptualizations of sustainability within their educational context. In general, environmental educators’ perceptions of sustainability have been under-researched. Based on a naturalistic inquiry model, the study employed an Internet-based questionnaire followed by a series of semi-structured interviews and discussion groups to gain insights into the concepts of sustainability among the educators. Interviews and discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and imported into NVivo 9 © for data management. The constant comparative method and content analysis consistent with a naturalistic inquiry methodology were used to analyze the data.
A review of the literature provided an overview of the concept of sustainability, and the role of environmental education in providing a pathway leading to sustainability. The literature indicates that critical thinking and systems thinking are important aspects of education addressing sustainability issues. Experiential and transformative education approaches also provide educational pedagogies for consideration.
A discussion of the methodology and methods of exploration are presented, followed by a presentation of the findings and discussion of the content of the educators’ comments. This research study indicates that North Carolina certified environmental educators’ conceptions of sustainability are limited. The study indicates that environmental education has a history and a capacity to foster positive environment attitudes, as well as the ability to cultivate environmental knowledge, and yet the connection to action, though considered vital, is less clear. Applications of addressing social and economic issues relative to environmental issues are severely restricted. The paper concludes with a discussion of the need to provide environmental educators the tools and training necessary to provide a more holistic and integrative educational paradigm that includes experiential and transformative learning, systems thinking, and critical thinking in an interdisciplinary approach. Additionally, educators need training and curricula that integrate the economics, environmental and social aspects of sustainability.
|Commitee:||Langmaid, Kimberly F., Nolet, Victor W., Shuman, Dorothea K.|
|Department:||Education / Sustainability Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Environmental education, Environmental Studies, Sustainability|
|Keywords:||Conceptualization, Naturalistic inquiry, Sustainability|
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