Stories of Arctic wonder : exploring transformative environmental education
Wyatt, Sarah Lilith Smith
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SubjectCohort learning; Ecological orientation; Environmental education; Experiential education; Transformative learning; Worldviews
This paper explores the experience of ten Canadian youth participants from the 2009 Arctic expedition with Students on Ice, an environmental education organization with a mandate of transformation. Through semi-structured interviews, I sought to understand participants’ experience, whether it had been transformative, the nature of that transformation, and its enablers. Findings suggest that environmental education can be transformative toward an ecologically-oriented worldview when designed as a transformative process (1-disorienting dilemma, 2-liminality, 3-reintegration), supported by (socioecologically situated and place conscious) experiential education and cohort learning. In this case, the most notable shifts were toward ‘seeing humans as part of nature’ and ‘conceptualizing nature as having intrinsic value’ (Leiserowitz & Fernandez, 2008). Areas of interest, for further investigation and transformative environmental education (TEE) practitioners, include the self-actualization potential of TEE; the challenges of participant reintegration following a TEE experience; and the importance of supporting participants in understanding, communicating and sustaining their transformation.
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