Date of Graduation

Spring 5-16-2014

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)

Department/Program

Environmental Management

First Advisor

Dr. Gretchen Coffman

Abstract

Science education, especially the discipline of environmental science, carries the unique opportunity to engage and empower urban youth of diverse backgrounds. Environmental science education helps establish a connection between youth and the natural world and helps youth engage in community-based stewardship activities while fostering ecological citizenry. When educators adopt innovative pedagogical approaches, students are better positioned to participate and develop a sustained interest in science. Field-based education transforms science learning and improves youth’s sense of place, self-confidence, and motivation. National and local case-studies of field-based learning programs demonstrate the powerful and transformative impact of using the Environment as a Integrated Context (EIC) as an educational framework. Connecting urban youth to nature has a profound effect on attitudes and behaviors, especially for “at-risk” children. This body of research argues that environmental science education offers the best opportunity for educators to: (1.) engage urban youth to a science discipline, with the goal of decreasing inequalities in science education, (2.) discover and connect students with the outside world through field-oriented projects, (3.) encourage students to support their communities through “eco-citizenry” projects, and (4.) provide a pathway of hope and healing for “at-risk” or troubled youth.

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