JANI ATTEBERY | jani.attebery@prescott.edu

Title: Regenerating Soil, Soul, and Society: Garden-based Sustainability Pedagogy for Incarcerated Adult Learners

Abstract: The value of one’s lived experience may be explored through lived space, lived time, lived body, lived human relations. This Dissertation explored the lived experience of prisoners participating in Sustainable Agriculture Food Production programing located within Arizona State Prison. This unique backdrop provided distinct perspectives throughout the Transformative Phenomenological study of how sustainability education within prison programming for incarcerated adult learners, in practice, may or may not support Adult Development Theory. Using the phenomenology of life-world themes to examine the intersection of adult development theory, prison education pedagogy, and garden-based education served to unfold the live experience for all involved.


TARRANCE BANKS | tarrance.banks@prescott.edu

Title: Student Perspectives on Project Based Learning

Abstract: This dissertation proposes a single case study of sustainability focused Project-Based Learning (PBL) experience in a 7th and 8th grade classroom at the Bloomington Project School. The primary researcher in this case study is one of the two lead teachers of the classroom to be studied. This practitioner-researcher will take an up-close look at the experience of six to ten of the students in the classroom, while also studying what emerges for the entire classroom student population. This research will work to illuminate the student and teacher experience through weekly student reflections and the collection of multiple sources of qualitative data, including an extensive auto ethnographic journal kept by the lead practitioner-researcher.


LINDA CHASE | linda.chase@prescott.edu

Title: Music, Nature, and Transformation: Contemplative Eco-aesthetics through Music Education

Abstract: 

I will present my arts-based research that I have put into practice with the intention of creating spaces for socially engaged art. Organizing the Peace and Justice Arts Café, an Eco-Music course, and a Standing Rock Awareness/Solidarity group provided opportunities for student engagement in critical issues. This work draws from a Deep Listening awareness and commitment to dialog across cultures and generations. I will discuss urban and forest soundwalks as compositional springboards, and student/community collaboration. I will also present an audio/video recording of my musical composition for voice, strings, winds and percussion that speaks to waking up and taking action.


SARENA RANDALL GILL | sarena.gill@prescott.edu

Title: Understanding interpreters: Confidence in inquiry and motivations for interpretation

Abstract: Using appropriate communications techniques within interpretive opportunities allows
interpreters to encourage visitors to construct meanings and create emotional and intellectual connections with a resource. Inquiry and facilitated dialogue are two tools that interpreters can use to engage visitors for that purpose. Professional development focused on the topics of interpretation, inquiry, and facilitated dialogue presents interpreters with relevant knowledge and skill practice, which is thought to increase confidence and contribute to more effective interpretation. However, there is a general lack of understanding of the benefits of such professional development. This two-phase, quasi-experimental, sequential explanatory mixed methods study aimed to learn more about the effects of professional development and training opportunities on confidence, knowledge, and practice of interpreters at informal and nonformal nature-based interpretive education sites. Additional exploratory questions were: What motivates interpreters to do interpretation? To participate in professional development? What are the relationships between interpreter goals and effective interpretation? The paradigm under which this research was conducted was postpositivism and social constructivism, with a critical realism ontology and subjective epistemology. The theoretical frameworks for this research were complexity theory, experiential learning theory, and theory of inquiry with a pragmatic worldview. Aligning with the hypotheses, content knowledge and skills increased for participants immediately following professional development, and participants felt more confident and motivated to incorporate content and skills into their professional practice.
Removing or reducing perceived barriers to integration and implementation of new skills and techniques acquired from professional development will likely lead to more interpreters applying these skills and techniques.


KIMBERLEY GREESON | kimberley.greeson@prescott.edu

Title: Of Pollinators and Forests: A Multispecies Ethnography of the Biopolitical Culture of Endemic Pollinators in Hawai’i

Abstract: Due to its geographic isolation and unique climate, Hawaii has a high number of endemic species and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. At the same time, these characteristics make Hawaii vulnerable to species loss. To protect endangered species, conservationists focus on preserving Hawaii’s native ecosystems through invasive species control and habitat restoration. Native forests are central to Hawaii’s watershed, provide habitat for endemic pollinators and foster bioculture. Pollinators are integral for ecosystem health as well as for human spaces (e.g., agricultural), and worldwide pollinator populations are on the decline. Since pollinators and their flowering counterparts are embedded in human lives, this research challenges traditional conservation approaches by contextualizing more-than-human entanglements within social, political, and cultural milieu. The purpose of this work is to draw from posthumanism, new materialism, and indigenous discourse to examine the biopolitical issues in which Hawaii’s endemic pollinators situate. This research seeks to re-envision questions and ethics of conservation. The researcher followed endemic pollinators through native forests to explore the entangled relationship between humans, pollinators, and forests. This multi-sited, multi-method research uses a mix of autoethnography, participant observations and interviews, visual data, and archival and biocultural accounts. The findings of this dissertation discuss the nuances of multispecies entanglements and mattering, politics of biological conservation and extinction, and material-discursive understandings of place. This study suggests human/more-than-human encounters are grounded in reciprocity and responsibility and co-create place.


DANIEL HELMAN | daniel.helman@prescott.edu

Title: Ethical Considerations for Living Organisms Found Off-Planet or Created: Ideas from Astrobiologists and Computer Scientists

Abstract: Prudence demands a pre-contact appraisal of ethical requirements towards living organisms as planetary science and astrobiology continue to move forward. Likewise, advances in artificial intelligence may mean that it will be necessary to have ethical guidelines in place for machine life. A novel framework for studying complementary ethical systems is presented along with results obtained by questionnaire and discussion with astrobiologists and computer scientists currently working in these areas. Outcomes include promoting the work of these professionals and their self-reflection, plus recommendations for policy-makers and relevant lesson plans for the classroom, plus the following inferences: Ethical systems based on personal, social, cultural, ecological, or quantitative themes may be orthogonal to each other. Moreover, psychometric analysis can be applied in a way that divides people into groups, and this analysis may create further social division. Technological issues such as the development of autonomous machines or discovering extraterrestrial life forms come with a responsibility that is parallel to the care that creating offspring engenders—and a more global discussion is warranted. Notwithstanding, innovation in information technology is associated with a flowering of imaginative ethical considerations that predate some of the technologies that they address. These imaginative ethics may become superfluous with time, whereas innovations in technology that impact the physical environment more directly often predate the development of relevant ethics. These relevant ethics address challenges only in hindsight. Thus, machine life and extraterrestrial life are likely to have different ethical trajectories.


ROBERT HUNT | rhunt@prescott.edu

Title: A Liberation Ecology of the Border Wall: Biodiversity in the Age of Biopolitics

Abstract: Conservationists have detailed the potential impacts of the Border Wall on wildlife. The issue with this assertion is that little direct measurements of such impacts have been actually made. To determine the current state of the Wall’s impacts, if any, I have used phenomenology to ascertain the structure and apparent impacts of the Wall. My measurements of the elements of the Wall’s security footprint seem to indicate a potential for impacting wildlife and their habitats, especially if it is to be expanded beyond its current deployment. What I did discover is the full human impacts of the Wall, and these may supersede wildlife impacts and render conservation efforts moot. Conservation of wildlife will need to address the human ecology of the Wall in order to build truly sustainable successes in preservation and restoration projects.


MARY JACKSON | mary.jackson@prescott.edu

Title: Process and Emergence: A Topographic Ethnography of the Embodiment of Place and Adventure Tourism in Khumbu, Nepal

Abstract: Adventure is a relic of imperialism and the European romanticization of place. It has evolved from quests for domination of place and people (colonialism), to spiritual or consumeristic escape from the modern world, to an attempt to return or reconnect to nature. This paradigm implies that if humans must reconnect to nature, there is an inherent disconnect or a separation. This reconnection is rooted in romantic notions and Cartesian duality of man and nature. However, approaches towards adventure and tourism apart from such dominant Western mountain traditions focus on the critical and contextually based aspects of adventure experiences. These approaches, informed by indigenous meanings of place, traditional ecological knowledge, and ecofeminism, decenter human experience. Likewise, a feminist new materialist approach towards understanding place and materiality also allows for an awareness of entanglements and intra-active relationships of human and more-than-human to emerge, as did this research.
This dissertation examined place in the context of adventure trekking tourism in the upper Solukhumbu District, Nepal through a walking ethnography of the trails in and around Mount Everest base camp. This research was based on the following questions: 1.) How can the future of development of Nepali Himalayan adventure tourism industry move forward ethically and with reciprocity towards the interconnectivity of mountains and people; 2.) How can the adventure tourism industry consider the complexities of influence on a place–from both a direct impact and that of greater anthropogenic impacts? This research was grounded in the background and orientations of Everest tourism, which developed within discourse and materiality of Khumbu, shifting with local identities and meanings of place. Tourism in this context mangles in the edges of local and global cultures looming within immanent threats of the Anthropocene. Discourse composed and idealized from outside the mountain boundaries (such as Western literature and media of the outdoor and adventure industry) contributes to motivations for traveling to the Khumbu and perceptions of this place, in turn shaping the expectations of the tourist. In these contact zones mountains are sacred, a business venture, a personal challenge, place of revelation and spirituality, imperial conquest, neocolonial stomping ground, to scientific object of study. Concurrently, mountains are commodified contributing to a disconnect of nature and culture. This is exhibited in adventure tourism discourse which can neglect the complexities of place, including (but not limited to) understandings of Sherpa culture and sacred landscapes to anthropogenic changes. Within these complexities, this dissertation examined the concept of place and how meaning and agency develop in relation to adventure tourism experiences in Khumbu and the Anthropocene. A reciprocity develops in which human amongst more-than-human becomes embedded and inseparable. Shifting an anthropocentric gaze that privileges and sets matter apart as isolated and constrained by boundaries determined by humans, demonstrated the vibrant agential reality of more-than-human intimacies such as forgotten landscapes, rocks, dirt, glaciers, and altitude. Nature is not a passive object upon which humans descend, but rather an entangled subjectivity. This awareness allows for a rethinking of human enactments of Anthropocene and complicit behaviors of this epoch, reframing approaches to adventure. An intention of this research was that a new materialist framework might identify the ways in which human and nature are inseparable but also how anthropocentrism is enacted in adventure activities. Through the development of a praxis tool, this research identified practices of tourism that are both sustainable and more inclusive of the entanglements of people and place for the adventure industry.


CHRISTY MISHINA | christy.mishina@prescott.edu

Title: Hawaiian Culture-Based Education: Reclamation of Native Hawaiian Education

Abstract: American colonization of the Hawaiian Islands has brought about generations of Native Hawaiian learners being subjected to educational practices that are incompatible with core Indigenous beliefs.  Consequently, Native Hawaiian learners have lower academic achievement than other ethnic groups in the islands.  The lack of success is not confined to academics, since Native Hawaiians are also underrepresented in material-economic, social-emotional, and physical wellbeing.  Hawaiian culture-based education (HCBE) can be used to decolonize educational practices by increasing cultural relevancy and compatibility within schools.  This study was conducted within a school founded explicitly for the education of Native Hawaiian children.  The selected campus has approximately 80 teachers and 650 Native Hawaiian learners (age eleven to fifteen).  The purpose of the study was to better understand implementation of the HCBE framework components, subsequently data was collected through surveys and semi-structured follow-up interviews.  The findings showed that although there was a range of the extent the teachers at the school understood and implemented the various HCBE components, there was commitment to using Hawaiian language, knowledge, and practices as the content and context for student learning.  The data also showed that although teachers have a high level of understanding of the importance of relationship building, that building family and community relationships remains an area of challenge.  Additionally, teachers pride themselves on delivering meaningful personalized learning experiences and assessments to their students, and would like their own professional development to be grounded in the same educational practices.  This study provides baseline data to inform further growth.


KRISTEN SBROGNA | kristen.sbrogna@prescott.edu

Title: Crop Introduction, Adaptive Agriculture, and Biocultural Diversity: Case Studies of Three Food-plants in a Changing California

Abstract: Crop Introduction, Adaptive Agriculture, and Biocultural Diversity traces the journeys of three food plants - millet, milkweed, and “Indian potato” -  to uncover their stories and assess their potential for introduction into diet and agriculture in Northern California.  Applying a biocultural, post-qualitative approach to case studies research, I follow three food-plants through their life cycles, considering their many interactions with other species and the biosphere, as well as with humans.  As each food’s story is uncovered, I investigate the food-plant and its potential as a food-crop for Northern California’s changing climate and cultural demographics.  Using a “seed to sustenance” framework, I follow each food’s lifecycle, both textually and in the field, uncovering interactions along a biocultural spectrum.  In the process, I explore how foods are selected, what role adaptive agriculture can fill, and how diet diversification efforts might be approached from a biocultural lens.  The case studies are presented as food narratives that examine the complex interrelationships of each food within cultural and biological contexts.


LENKA STUDNICKA| lstudnicka@prescott.edu

Title: Early Childhood Education as Sustainable Peacemaking: Supporting Interdisciplinary Learning to Bridge Theory and Practice

Abstract: This dissertation presentation explores what level of peace education awareness exists among early childhood educators and how they view its importance and how does that manifest in their experiences, and the resources by which they facilitate it in their classrooms as a means of sustainability. The intricate circumstances of a contemporary early childhood field provide context in this appreciative inquiry study conducted from an onto-epistemological perspective. The aim is to bridge theory and practice, and embrace new perspectives and theories that would make early childhood education, first and foremost, a place for ethical practices.


ANN SUTTON | ann.sutton@prescott.edu

Title: Deepening and Broadening Perspectives on the Montessori Teacher

Abstract: The primary aim of this study was to deepen understanding about effective Montessori teachers. A second aim was to broaden the context of the topic, examining aligning Montessori theory with Indigenous theory and sustainability theory. The three grounding standpoints, Montessori theory, Indigenous theory, and sustainability theory were used to a) orient Montessori education as an educational paradigm that upholds everything is connected, b) enhance conceptual understanding for Montessori educators, c) extend use of Indigenous research principles, and d) illustrate ways education to age 18 can foster a sustainability mindset. Using Bohm’s dialogue guidelines, six groups of experienced Montessori educators conversed about the essence of Montessori and then what could be said about teachers who effectively implement the concept. Twenty participants, considered as Elders and co-researchers, determined the essence of Montessori became manifest through respect, love, focus on the child, community, prepared environment, interrelatedness, becoming a way of life, and peacefulness. Key descriptors of effective Montessori teachers were found to include one’s self-respect, ability to trust, understand the philosophy within one’s perspective, and apply the principles situationally. One insight offered for teacher educators included allowing more time for how to cultivate the theory in daily classroom activities. For administrators, participants reminded that a teacher’s development unfolds just as the students’ and requires in-kind support. Findings help inform prospective and current Montessori teachers, teacher educators, and school administrators.


JAMIE THORN | jamie.thorn@prescott.edu

Title: Sustainability in Parks and Protected Areas

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to explore the state of sustainability in U.S. Parks and Protected Areas (PPAs) as well as to create a tool to help measure and maintain sustainability in PPAs. The primary research question driving this research was “What is the current state of sustainability in U.S. PPAs?” This guiding question also addressed a subquestion, which asked, “Can a tool be developed and validated to measure the state of sustainability in parks?” The second research question in this project was “Do current park managers believe the use of a sustainable parks certificate would aid ongoing efforts to uphold and maintain sustainability in their parks?” Each research question was addressed through the creation of a survey to measure the state of sustainability through five hypothesized domains, with 55 Likert-scale-style questions and six open-ended questions addressing the certificate program. The survey opened in May 2017 and ended in October 2017. It was sent to approximately 2,645 managers across the country and included national parks and state parks in U.S. states and territories. The data showed that participants were in favor of creating a sustainable parks certificate to help them become more sustainable. A chief recommendation was to start an initiative aimed at providing an online platform for sustainability training geared specifically toward PPAs. This research project has begun the steps necessary to advance the state of sustainability in U.S. PPAs.


JEFFREY WALTON | jeffrey.walton@prescott.edu

Title: Sub-Saharan Africa and the Crisis of Sustainability: Exploring Wellbeing and the Role of Ecological Economics in Sustainable Development

Abstract: This case study explored wellbeing in rural sub-Saharan Africa from a critical ecological feminist perspective by assessing a robust set of subjective wellbeing and social-ecological resilience indicators. Sub-Saharan Africa is a culturally and ecologically diverse and vibrant region devastated by colonial and postcolonial injustices that have created persistent and pervasive social, economic, and ecological crises. The broad problem this dissertation explores is the application of an inappropriate paradigm for sustainable development resulting in persistent failures to significantly improve wellbeing among rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Ecological economics may provide a paradigm for sustainable development that is culturally, ecologically, and economically more appropriate – and more effective – for assessing and improving wellbeing. Twenty-seven participants were surveyed from two rural communities in Cameroon’s Southwest Province actively involved in development initiatives that operationalize principles of ecological economics. Results indicate that perceptions of wellbeing are influenced by both gender and occupation. Results also indicate that the sustainable agriculture initiative that operationalizes principles of ecological economics positively impacts perceptions of wellbeing of farmers more than non-farmers, and female farmers more than male farmers. This suggests that testing a broad set of social-ecological indicators is essential for understanding wellbeing in rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. It also suggests that ecological economics may provide important insight for sustainable development practitioners. Further study in these communities, and comparative studies across similar communities, may shed light on how specific principles of ecological economics can guide the design and implementation of development initiatives to improve wellbeing. 


BETSY WIER | bwier@prescott.edu

Title: The Sanctity of Water: Sustainability through Community Engagement and Inclusive Restoration

Abstract: A robust body of research suggests that inclusive and collaborative approaches to ecological restoration, specifically watershed management, are not only successful but optimal for long-term sustainability.  This research is embedded within the context of the EPA regulated Chesapeake Watershed restoration spanning six states and requiring multiple levels of collaboration and engagement. The research aims to gain an understanding of what motivates community leaders and their respective constituencies in Havre de Grace, Maryland, a city on the shores of the Upper Chesapeake Bay, to engage in water resource conservation and restoration initiatives. The primary research question for the study is: How can community leaders catalyze community engagement in support of water-related environmental restoration, education and conservation? The research takes into consideration how community leaders individually express their understanding of water-related issues through a sense of place, nature connection and local knowledge. This study uses ethnographic inquiry as the primary research method with data collected through a survey, in-depth interviews, and transcript coding.  The research will contribute to an understanding of how best practices in community leadership and community engagement can be mobilized to conserve and restore critical ecosystems within the context of a broader watershed management initiative. The research results will be useful for community organizers and stakeholder institutions with an interest in protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Watershed through locally relevant initiatives.


SHELLIE ZIAS-ROE | shellie.zias-roe@prescott.edu

Title: Equity and Inclusion in Planning:  Engaging a Uniquely Abled Vulnerable Population in the Participatory Process

Abstract: EEngaging the public in local planning processes is an essential function of our democratic society. Citizen involvement and input is central to many of our legislative processes and local policy decision-making. The purpose of this research is to explore ways to engage a vulnerable young adult population into local planning processes. There are many challenges with engaging uniquely-abled and exceptional citizens in planning. This research will look at those challenges and consider ways to overcome obstacles such that the researcher may be able to share a story of how a group of young uniquely-abled citizens of a community were empowered through a learning process that lead them toward sharing their needs and vision during a twenty-year general plan (comprehensive plan) update.  The research explores ways to include a vulnerable population such that their voice can be heard in meaningful ways, providing substantive input into creating the communities that they would like to live in. It is hoped that this work will inform others of how to be more inclusive in policy and governance. The research will look at various ways that governmental agencies can gather expressive input from vulnerable populations by inviting them into the public process, providing them the opportunity to shape decision-making which is inclusive of their needs, thereby creating more equitable outcomes across communities.