Environmental education excursions and proximity to urban green space – densification in a ‘compact city’

Environmental education excursions and proximity to urban green space – densification in a ‘compact city’
– Articles in the current issue of Environmental Education Research – 22(7)
Maarten Wolsink
Pages: 1049-1071 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1077504

The value of urban green space for environmental education fieldwork is empirically investigated in a study among all secondary schools in Amsterdam. The article describes how the proximity of schools to green spaces emerges as a new factor in the ‘sustainable city’ and the ‘compact city’ debate. For fieldwork excursions proximity to green spaces is crucial for establishing a pattern of outdoor environmental education. Once established, it shapes teachers’ attitudes on excursions. A linear structural path analysis reveals how this in turn results in more fieldwork excursions to other destinations. Interviews with teachers show how this can be interpreted mainly as a result from iterative positive experiences with excursions close to the school, which are triggered by the availability of nearby green space. Remarkably, beside the effects of green spaces for well-being and health, the significance of green space for environmental education of children remained under-investigated. This argument came prominently to the fore in a case of urban densification within the framework of compact city policies. In the dispute about the elimination of green space, citizens claimed a high educational value would vanish, but they felt this value was not recognized in the decision-making process.

Keywords: Urban green space, Fieldwork, Excursions, Urban densification, Environmental justice, Recognition



Fieldwork: An integral part of environmental education

“It is really, really important that citizens learn to value their environment and to understand the science behind the great ecological dilemmas which face us all… All these aspirations remain ‘pie in the sky’ unless every pupil has an entitlement to extend his or her study […] out of the classroom. It is in the field […] where acting locally becomes thinking globally.”

Professor Lord May of Oxford, Former President of the Royal Society

Stuart Nundy, an Outdoor Activities Officer based in Hampshire, UK, has spent a considerable portion of his professional career looking into the benefits of practical learning opportunities. His research summarised three key advantages:

  1. Fieldwork has a positive impact on long-term memory since the fieldwork setting itself is   engaging, and therefore memorable
  2. Residential experience encourages personal growth and greatly develops social skills
  3. Reinforcement between the affective and the cognitive is interconnected and interchangeable – each one influences the other and provides a solid platform for higher learning

Read on about work on this, with summaries and illustrations from Justin Dillon, on the value of fieldwork, and University of Exeter, at: Fieldwork: An integral part of environmental education.

Help keep “Thesis Thursdays” going!

Help keep “Thesis Thursdays” going!

Just finished your doctorate researching EE? Know someone who has? Want others in this research community to know about it? Visit: http://goo.gl/NKoebm

  • Please note, this is not a dissertation abstract recirculation, as with online commercial or institutional thesis databases – fresh writing, reframing and rejigging are expected as per the guidelines and editing expectations. *

Greek primary school children’s representations of the urban environment as seen through their drawings

Greek primary school children’s representations of the urban environment as seen through their drawings
– New EER Article Alert
Dimitrios Stokas, Elena Strezou, George Malandrakis & Penelope Papadopoulou
Pages: 1-27 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1219316

In the present study, we explore aspects of Greek primary school children’s representations about the urban environment through the use of drawings and their relation to sustainability. For that purpose, 104 children, aged 9–12 (4th and 6th grades), were asked to make two drawings of their town: one as it is now and another as they would like it to be. Drawings were analysed using pre-defined categories of urban sustainability and were statistically analysed using SPSS. Results revealed a serious gap in knowledge regarding energy and aspects of local development tied to sustainability in the current and future state of the children’s towns. Although the most popular characteristics in the children’s drawings were associated with the environment, the majority of children illustrated issues related to society. Evidence indicated an age-related progression of representations related to sustainability in the urban environment, at least concerning the topics of natural environment, infrastructure and the realization of problems caused by air pollution and municipal waste generation.

Keywords: Children, urban environment, sustainability, representations, drawings


What is a ‘Quality’ Education? A teacher’s take on #SDG4, with a healthy dose of enthusiasm!

In September 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals for sustainable development to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by 2030. Education is essential to the success of every one of the 17 new goals.

(See the full infographic here)

It is now nearly a year since these were announced; here’s how one teacher responded back then:

I love the United Nations’s new Global Goals for Sustainable Development (GGSDs). I’m one of those strange people who is always optimistic that a better world is within our reach (perhaps because I spend a large part of my day with optimistic young people). I think that even if we only meet some of the 17 GGSDs, or only meet most of the targets for most of them, humanity will be a lot better off. And I believe that education in particular is going to play a massive role in alleviating poverty and inequality, decreasing environmental despoliation, and creating a better, more sustainable future for us all.

But what exactly is meant by ‘quality‘ education?

It may seem like a trifling matter to some, but, to my way of thinking, this term is going to be a major stumbling block in achieving better education, and thus a better world.

I am sure that many nations will see a quality education as increased emphasis on the oddly named ‘three Rs’: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Perhaps some will even interpret ‘quality’ as a fourth R: ‘rigor’ (and will – very unwisely – advocate longer school days, more homework and more content.) I am also sure that many will see this as the need to focus more on the STEM subjects. But I think that a quality education is something else entirely:


A Quality Education:

  • Encourages students to question and to think critically about real world issues.
  • Nurtures creative problem-solving in order to encourage independent thinking and a sense of agency in the world.
  • Develops a sense of empathy and tolerance.
  • Teaches kids to think on a variety of scales, from the local to the global, and to make connections between what’s going on in their communities and what’s happening in the world (and vice versa).
  • Guides young people to identify and nurture their own unique talents and to refine and express these in multiple ways.
  • Helps students to express themselves confidently.
  • Demonstrates that doing is as important as knowing.

Yes, the ‘three Rs’ are important, but so are the seven priorities listed above. It is important to know that we should be teaching the foundational skills at the same time as we teach these ‘soft skills’.

And now add to these the ten targets under Goal 4, and you have the scaffold to build a truly remarkable education system.

I’m just a teacher, and I have no qualifications to make these statements, but I do believe that the moment education authorities make the foregoing a priority, we are sure to see a new generation of global thinkers who have the skills, the confidence and the compassion to help build a better world.

[ Reblogging from: What is a ‘Quality’ Education? (Advice for Policy-Makers on Implementing the New Sustainable Development Goal for Education) ]

Recontextualizing psychosocial development in young children: a model of environmental identity development

Recontextualizing psychosocial development in young children: a model of environmental identity development
– Articles in the current issue of Environmental Education Research – 22(7)
Carie Green, Darius Kalvaitis & Anneliese Worster
Pages: 1025-1048 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1072136

This article presents an Environmental Identity Development model, which considers the progression of young children’s self-cognitions in relation to the natural world. We recontextualize four of Erikson’s psychosocial stages, in order to consider children’s identity development in learning in, about, and for the environment. Beginning with Trust in Nature vs. Mistrust in Nature, we argue that cognitions of comfort in the natural world vs. discomfort, provide the foundation for healthy environmental identity development. This trusting bond/relationship with nature allows children to gain Spatial Autonomy through collectively or independently creating their own sense of place in nature vs. feelings of doubt or Environmental Shame. As children progress, they gain Environmental Competencies, creative innovations to use the environment for both personal and social purposes vs. separation from nature or Environmental Disdain. Such competencies promote children’s agency in exercising Environmental Action, applied care/ethics aimed at building a sustainable future, as opposed to behaviors that cause Environmental Harm. Young children’s environmental identity develops in diverse ways and in distinct sociocultural and geographical contexts. Caregivers/educators play a unique role in recognizing and supporting the needs of individual children as they progress towards healthy environmental identity development.

Keywords: environmental identity development, young children, trust in nature, spatial autonomy, environmental competency, children’s agency


Sustainable Development Goal 4. Quality Education 

Publisher cross-promotion:

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

We have selected an array of articles focusing on lifelong learning, inequality and sustainable development in education. These articles will be free to access via the linked page until the end of 2016.

Source: Sustainable Development Goal 4. Quality Education | Explore Taylor & Francis Online