Examining Equitable and Inclusive Work Environments in Environmental Education: Perspectives from the Field and Implications for Organizations

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I like how this article illustrates differences in understanding what equity, inclusion, and diversity mean in practice. Some EE organizational leaders expressed success in equity and inclusion, while environmental educators of color at the same organization had salient examples of otherwise. It’s both humbling and a call to action. Read this report with embedded examples to help clarify your approach to equity and inclusion in your work. It makes an important case for learning more about systemic oppression, power, and privilege as the basis for equity and inclusion work in EE. This article has good graphics, emphasized quotes, and action-steps for organizations and individuals.

The environmental education field is going through a period of reflection and reexamination in an attempt to overcome decades of practices that have resulted in a nearly homogenous white workforce. This study, led by the Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, was commissioned as part of a planning grant, funded by the Pisces Foundation, to support the design of a professional learning workshop series for outdoor science organizations. Through focus groups with educators of color and a survey of organization leaders, this study sought to better understand how environmental education organizations think about and operationalize equity and inclusion in the work environment. While we acknowledge the many dimensions of diversity and intersectional identities, this study specifically focused on the experiences of environmental educators of color.

The findings presented resonate with much of the research and literature in the field, and continue to highlight how imperative it is that environmental education organizations examine their practices regarding equity and inclusion to ensure that they are being intentional and responsive to the experiences of their staff of color. By presenting these findings, we hope to increase the degree to which organization leaders and white-identifying staff can begin to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of educators of color and can reconcile the ways in which they have been thinking about and operationalizing equity and inclusion in their organizations. We believe that it is critical for all staff, including organization leaders and educators of color, to engage in ongoing dialogue as a means to understand and empathize with each other’s perspectives and lived experiences. Finally, we hope that increased understanding and empathy will encourage a culture of productive reflection and action among outdoor science programs and their leadership.