Examining the literature to reveal the nature of community EE/ESD programs and research
– New EER Article Alert
Olivia M. Aguilar
Pages: 1-24 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1244658
Interest in community environmental education (EE) and community education for sustainable development (ESD) is increasing, as evidenced by the increase in studies examining community EE/ESD approaches and NAAEE’s current development of the Community EE Guidelines for Excellence. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to: (1) provide a review of research which identifies as examining community EE/ESD issues from 1994 to 2013, (2) examine themes specific to community-oriented program implementation and outcomes, and (3) examine theoretical trends within this work. While no single framework emerged from the diverse studies on community EE/ESD, themes suggested greater success for programs that were rooted in community issues, involved multiple community partners, were oriented towards collaborative and civic action, and incorporated reflection on social institutions and power dynamics. These characteristics reflect an emancipatory approach to education which seeks to enhance human development through public participation and engagement. To this end, future researchers and practitioners should consider: (1) the resources needed to understand community values and concerns, (2) skills and knowledge required to build relationships and attend to community culture, values and democratic processes, (3) theories that account for the socio-historical contexts of participants and their pathways for transformation and empowerment, and (4) a process of action that continually reflects on power structures and dynamics.
Keywords: Community, place-based, sustainability, ESD, theory