Environmental Education Outcomes

5-week online course (February 12 – April 1, 2019)

The course is asynchronous, and includes optional weekly webinars.

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$50 regular registration fee

Description: Is the goal of environmental education to instill pro-environmental behaviors, foster collective environmental action, and/or developing healthy and productive citizens? Through short pre-recorded lectures, podcasts, readings, social media, and live webinars, this course will help you define your environmental education goals and learn what the research says is the best pathway to achieve them. Topics include environmental behaviors, collective action, knowledge, values, attitudes, nature connectedness, sense of place, identity, self- and political-efficacy, norms, social capital, health and well-being, positive youth development, academic achievement, and resilience. Students diagram their own theory of change outlining how to reach their environmental education goals. Through this course, you will apply research-based knowledge to start new or enhance existing environmental education programs, strengthen your professional networks by exchanging ideas and resources with peer educators and university students around the world, and gain professional credentials.

Participants: Environmental educators, including teachers, nonformal educators, environmental and park managers, zoo and garden educators, volunteers, and university students. Available to students in any country. Lectures are in English with subtitles in English, Chinese, and Spanish.

Cost: $50 fee. Options available to pay a higher fee to sponsor another student or pay a lower or no fee if you are unable to pay or live in a country without credit card or Alipay system.

Certificates: Participants who complete the course are awarded a Cornell University certificate (PDF). Weekly assignments include watching lectures, readings, and discussion questions. Students are required to participate in a minimum of one course webinar. Required course project is a diagram and short narrative of your theory of change for your current or future environmental education program.

Educational approach: The course is based in three principles: (1) Learning is social: we learn effectively within a social context, thus networking and exchange of ideas among participants is crucial; (2) Learning can lead to innovation: course participants build on the course materials to develop new ideas for environmental education; and (3) Learning can foster practice change: we will apply course content and ideas to real environmental education programs. The course uses the Edge edX learning management system and optional closed groups on Facebook, WeChat, Telegram, and other social media to facilitate idea and resource exchange. Weekly webinars, conducted on Wednesdays at 8am and Thursdays at 10am, use Zoom conferencing software.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define environmental education goals and your own program goal(s).
  2. Describe and critically reflect on research about what works and doesn’t work in achieving different environmental education outcomes.
  3. Discuss models for environmental education with peers.
  4. Diagram and explain a theory of change appropriate for your educational program.

Course Instructors: Marianne Krasny, Alex Kudryavtsev, Anne Armstrong, Yue Li, Kim Snyder, Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab

Duration: 5 weeks (4-5 hours of work per week) plus 2 weeks to complete course project.

Dates: February 12 – April 1, 2019.

All weekly and final assignments must be completed no later than 1 April 2019.

Course Email: CivicEcology@cornell.edu

Course organization and topics overview

TOC Framework

  • Environmental education has two major goals related to caring for the environment—individual environmental behavior and collective action.
  • Three factors are important in both changing individual behaviors and fostering collective action: efficacy (self and collective or political), norms (personal moral and social), and identity (individual ecological and social environmental). Three other factors to take into consideration when trying to change individual behaviors are knowledge, values and attitudes. An additional factor to take into account for collective action is social capital and trust.
  • Environmental education has goals besides those directly related to the environment: health and well-being, positive youth development, and academic achievement
  • You can define your program goals (individual behavior, collective action, health/well-being, positive youth development, academic achievement) and then use research to determine the best pathways to get there.

Preliminary Course Outline

Each week includes 2-4 prerecorded short lectures, readings, short podcast interviews with experts, and short assignments. During the course, we will also hold optional live webinars to allow course participants to hear from experts, ask questions, and discuss ideas with other participants and instructors.

Week 1: Introduction, and environmental education outcomes overview

We introduce the course and two prominent outcomes of environmental education, and participants introduce themselves and their work or studies to each other. Course introduction, environmental behaviors, collective environmental action

Week 2: Pathways to collective action

Collective, social or environmental identity, social norms, political efficacy, and social capital are all pathways leading to collective action to address underlying causes of environmental problems. Topics: Identity, Norms, Political efficacy, Social capital

Weeks 3: Environmental behaviors

Self-efficacy, values, knowledge, and attitudes are connected to our individual decisions about environmental behaviors. Two additional pathways, identity and personal moral norms, also predict individual environmental behaviors. Topics: Self-efficacy, Values, Knowledge, Attitudes

Week 4: Other environmental education outcomes

Some professionals and volunteers conduct environmental education programs to reach health, youth development, and academic achievement goals rather than environmental behavior or collective action. Topics: Health and well-being, Positive youth development, Academic achievement and critical thinking

Week 5: Final Project: Theory of change

We review program design principles that emerge from studies of environmental education covered in the course. We also present a method for developing your theory of change, which describes your desired program outcomes, intermediate goals needed to reach those outcomes, and pathways or activities to reach those goals. Participants will develop a final project, which is a diagram and short narrative explaining their theory of change, including program outcomes, intermediate objectives, and pathways and activities to reach those objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Course email CivicEcology@cornell.edu When you email us, please always start the subject of your email with “EE Outcomes” so that we can find your message.
  2. What are community groups? Community groups are groups of course participants who are interested in specific EE topics, or come from specific regions, or want to discuss course materials in a language other than English. You can create a community group within this course, and recruit some course participants in it. Some course groups create their own Facebook groups or WeChat groups.
  3. Why do you have different fees? Nearly all students pay the $50 fee, for which we are grateful. Some course participants are able to pay more (e.g., $100) to sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students who are absolutely unable to pay because of economic hardship can pay a smaller fee or taking the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.
  4. If I pay $100 to sponsor another student, can I link with the student I sponsor? No, we keep who pays and who doesn’t pay anonymous. However, you will be able to connect with students from many different countries through the course discussion board and social media.
  5. Can I sponsor more than one student? Yes, we would be grateful for your support of other students, especially in developing countries, who otherwise cannot afford paying for this course.
  6. How long is the course? This is a 5-week course, and it requires about 4 hours of work per week. All required learning materials are offered asynchronously. Only optional webinars are synchronous, and they are recorded in case if you prefer to watch at another time.
  7. Can I submit the final project in my native language? We strongly encourage you to submit all assignments in English so that instructors and other students can give you feedback. We also accept and give feedback on assignments submitted in Chinese and Spanish.
  8. How will I receive course certificates? If you fulfilled the course requirements, you will receive your PDF course certificate within one month after the end of the course.
  9. What social media are used in this course? We use an optional Facebook group and WeChat group where students and instructors share ideas and resources. Participants gain a great deal from exchanging ideas and resources and “meeting” fellow students and instructors on social media. However, participating in social media is not required to earn a certificate. Only course participants can be part of this Facebook group. Do NOT invite your friends or colleagues to this group. You can participate in both the Facebook and WeChat group (WeChat is mostly in Chinese).
  10. Which languages are used in the course? Readings and lectures are in English. We include Chinese, Spanish, and English subtitles for many lectures. We have Chinese TAs who provide additional support for Chinese speakers.
  11. Can I share course materials with my colleagues and friends? You are NOT allowed to share, copy, distribute, or forward any readings from this course. They are only for your own learning. All readings in this course are copyright protected, and nobody is permitted to share them outside this course. Course syllabus cannot be shared. You are welcome to share your learning experiences and course projects with your colleagues and friends.