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Environmental education, resilience, and learning: reflection and moving forward

by Marianne E. Krasny, Cecilia Lundholm, Ryan Plummer
Environmental Education Research ()

Abstract

Social-ecological resilience, a rapidly expanding area of scholarship internationally, seeks to understand how society and ecosystems mediate, adapt, and learn from change. This special issue is a pioneering attempt to explore the overlap of resilience, learning, and environmental education, in which four broad perspectives have emerged: (1) environmental education and learning may foster attributes of resilient social-ecological systems (e.g., biological diversity, participatory forms of governance, short feedback loops); (2) environmental education should not be viewed as an isolated means to address environmental issues, but rather as a complex and multifaceted part of a larger system of interacting structures and processes; (3) resilience thinking at multiple levels suggests a 'way out' of the instrumental/intrinsic split in environmental education; and (4) parallels among concepts used in learning theory and social-ecological systems resilience may contribute to discussions of transferability of ideas across disciplines. Whereas the authors are overwhelmingly positive about the potential contributions of environmental education and learning to resilience, in this endpiece to the special issue we offer cautions in suggesting the need to look for counter examples and to be concise in the use of terminology. Finally, we pose several research questions that might guide further work in this area, including: What are the outcomes of different approaches to environmental education relative to resilience attributes, such as social capital and ecosystem services? How do environmental education programs situated in management practice impact learning and values at the level of individuals and organizations? What role do different types of environmental education play in governance?.

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