Discussion Paper: The Promise of Civic Engagement in Environmental Issues | NAAEE

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Discussion Paper: The Promise of Civic Engagement in Environmental Issues

As part of a partnership with the Kettering Foundation, NAAEE and others have been seeking a deeper understanding of how environmental education can support and complement initiatives that are geared more broadly toward educating for civic agency, capacity, and participation. We've drafted a discussion paper, The Promise of Civic Engagement in Environmental Issues: Synergy of Environmental Education and Civic Education.

We're inviting you to read the paper and join us in a discussion. What did we get right? What did we miss or misconstrue? What's just plain crazy? How can we make it better? How can we move our practice forward?

Please download the paper by clicking on this link:

I found the paper Promise of Civic Engagement in Environmental Issues thoughtful, thorough and mostly complete. I would like to see a section on evaluation included. What would you recommend to someone who puts this into practice in their EEd program(s) on how they could evaluate the "civic agency, capacity and participation" of learners as they put their environmental civic engagement into practice?

Chris, Thanks so much for your comments and suggestion. Yes, yes, yes. I'm a little surprised that Martha Monroe and I didn't include something on evaluation.

Any suggestions? Anyone out there have good examples or literature that talks about evaluating civic agency, capacity and participation?

In 2003 PEI created a bank of assessment tasks for the process of Civic Participation, the content is still relevant but they are aligned to old education standards. If anyone knows of a grant that would fund the staff time to update these to C3 and NGSS standards, let us know, we'd be happy to update them and share.

Thank you for this article! As a former teacher who implemented "civic participation" with students there are a couple of pieces I wondered about as I read through the article. Both may be too in the weeds for the purpose of this article - and I appreciate the catalyst for the reflection on how we approach civic participation. 1) I made the connection between civic participation and social science in the science classroom- I don't see explicit connections to social science in this article. The students in my science class that were working under the Civic Participation continuum created social science surveys and analyzed them to determine community sentiment and perspectives, then they developed a plan of action based on community needs. 2) Building classroom discourse around inclusive and democratic values is key to students having the skills and agency to take action, I see some reference to the importance of collaborative learning, maybe strengthening that to the need to share strategies with educators on best practices to open classrooms to equitable student voice and student choice is an integral part in helping all students develop the skills needed to take action.

Kathryn - I do remember the PEI work. Hopefully, someone in this group could help you update it. Finding solid ways to assess civic engagement knowledge, skills, and dispositions would be a benefit to all. I'd be curious how the assessment lined up with the Civic Engagement for Environmental Issues learning framework we proposed?

Kathryn - thanks for these comments. We'll certainly look to see how we can enhance our discussions of democratic practices. We do talk about civic practices, in general, and deliberative discussions specifically. But, we may need to highlight democratic practices a bit more.

Great. Yes, evaluating efficacy and skills is easy (relatively). Agency is more challenging. Teen Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been working on incorporating "thinking routines" into conservation programs to bridge a gap between abilities and agency. To evaluate those programs I've been working on how to make students' thinking visible. Don't have answers yet, but here's an interesting resource: Making Thinking Visible by Ritchart, Church & Morrison 2011. There's also a summary pdf online: https://www.nesacenter.org/uploaded/conferences/FTI/2016/handouts/Mark_C...

P.S. Based on our long-term surveys of Teen Programs' participants a gap between abilities and actions is possibly due to the lack of "sensitivity to opportunities." That is, they don't see opportunities around them for taking action, especially collective or leadership actions. This is a component of thinking routines, explained here in Agency by Design research: http://agencybydesign.org.s219538.gridserver.com/edresources/thinkingrou...