ABIGAIL LYNAM | abigaillynam@mac.com

TitleIntegrating a Developmental Perspective in Adult Learning and Sustainability Education

Abstract: This research examines the personal, professional and developmental impact of introducing a constructive developmental perspective to faculty and students in a post secondary program in sustainability education.  It also explores the relationship adult development and sustainability education, teaching, and mentorship practices and perspectives.  There is increasing emphasis on integrating human interiors (values, beliefs, worldviews) in sustainability work however, very little research has looked at the relationship between adult development and sustainability education.  The purpose of this research is to explore deepening the transformative nature of learning and leadership development in graduate education through the use of a developmental framework and assessment, and to contribute to advancing the application of adult developmental research to adult learning and sustainability education.  The site of study was Prescott College, and the sample of 11, included four PhD faculty and seven students.  This mixed-methods study included semi-structured interviews, a five month action inquiry process, and a pre and post developmental assessment.  The findings demonstrate that sustainability is significantly different for individuals assessed at different developmental stages; learning about adult development is transformative developmentally, personally and professionally; a developmental perspective may deepen the transformative impact of graduate sustainability education; teaching about adult development needs to be developmentally responsive.  A constructive-developmental lens is shown to provide important insight for sustainability education.  Integrating a developmental perspective into graduate and sustainability education is recommended to support learning and growth at all stages of development, support the development of the educators themselves, and support skill development for well with diverse groups.



View the presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3LkIbhQfOU

Title: Transformative Experiences with Nature

Abstract: I will present findings from a phenomenological study that considers transformative moments with nature through two lenses: our innate affinity for nature and our capacity for deep play or flow throughout the lifetime.

People are intimately attuned for both nature and play.  It is wildly recognized in the play literature that young children are particularly adept at embodying what Edith Cobb calls a state of ‘intuitive attunement.’  In this state, the boundaries between the inner and outer aspects of an experience become more permeable allowing them to blend in order for the child to mentally and emotionally play with new concepts, ideas, and conceptualizations of self.

Teens and adults may not experience the state of attunement with nature because of busyness, social expectations, and technological distractions.  That is, until an event recalls the state of intuitive attunement for a person!  Because of our innate affinity for nature, significant experiences with nature may serve as a threshold for recalling the state of intuitive attunement that for teens and adults, is experienced as a state of deep play or flow.  The preconscious cognitive and emotional responses associated with a person’s affinity for nature combined with a person entering in to a state of deep play may produce the conditions necessary for a transformative event to unfold.  As a person’s affinity for nature interacts with her/his state of deep play, a liminal space may emerge in which the boundaries between imagination and reality, inner and outer, self and nature become more permeable allowing aspects to blend and new concepts to be embodied. 

Significant moments with nature may influence a person’s life in significant ways prompting changes in interests, careers, worldviews, and their relationship with nature.  It is important to understand these experience to inform the design of adventure education programs, outdoor education curriculum, transformational learning, and adult education.



View the presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6CHLIvnNVs

Abstract: Sustainability educators could benefit from better understanding how the built environment, natural environment, and curricular activities can interface to encourage connections between people and place. My research explores the relationship between these dimensions at the Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center for Environmental Health and Education at the Center for Discovery—an innovative project in place-based education and design for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. Specifically, my research addressed the following question: For the occupants of the Big Barn, what is the relative and synergistic importance of (a) the built environment, (b) the natural environment, and (c) the curricular activities and experiences, as they encourage connections between people and place? My research was supported by a range of literature related to place-based education and design, as well as research related to universal design and phenomenological ecology. This literature review shaped my decision to use various research methods, including photo elicitation, surveys, interviews, observations, and document analysis. Using qualitative and quantitative techniques, I identified several important themes, including the relationship between photo content and meaning; the importance of curricular activities and the pedagogical value of the farm; the synergistic relationship between the environment and the activities; the relationship to the broader community; and the potential for staff training. These themes provide insight into the lived experiences of the Big Barn staff and highlight lessons that could potentially inform place-based education more broadly. 

            Keywords: place-based education, ecological design, phenomenological ecology 



View the presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBBH2yPfAy4

Additional links: http://bit.ly/10UtkGv - www.jennyfinn.com - www.facebook.com/jennybfinn

Abstract: Many of us in this country have been taught to avoid difficulty rather than lean into it. To live wholeheartedly means to live courageously from the whole of our human experience. To see every experience as worthy of our attention, including our brokenness, is to live from wholeness. It takes courage and creativity to show up honestly in our lives. Those I interviewed have shown up so fully in their lives that they now guide others to do the same, by creatively and courageously turning their attention toward what is real. Living wholeheartedly is an act of service to the world, and living wholly as I explore in this dissertation, means welcoming the darkness. In this dissertation, I explore the transformative value of the darkness and the power of facing the personal shadow, what it means to live a wholehearted life, and the light of knowing that is both personal and universal and is found in the darkness of one’s experience. This heuristic, auto-ethnographic, narrative study continues the ancient conversation about the transformative power of seeking wholeness through stories of my own, and those of six teachers, devoted to living an engaged and wholehearted life.


KERRI LACHARITE |  klacharite@prescott.edu

Title: Cultivating sustainability: Effects of campus farms on undergraduate student perceptions and connection to nature

Abstract: The number of colleges and universities with campus farms or gardens has grown from an estimated 23 in 1992 to 300 today with possibly increased numbers predicted. The profile emerging from the campus garden/farm movement with a focus on sustainability looks a lot different from the traditional land-grant university and colleges of agriculture. Many of these institutions cite pedagogical goals benefitting students intellectually, physically and emotionally. In spite of this emergent trend and staunch advocacy for campus farms and gardens, limited empirical research on agriculture-based learning in higher education exists outside agriculture degrees and theoretical work of scholars such as Liberty Hyde Bailey and David Orr.

This study explored first, the diversity of characteristics, and pedagogical objectives–intellectual, emotional and physical of emerging campus gardens and farms through a nationwide compilation and survey of campus farm and garden managers and educators. Second, evaluated whether time on farms increasing contact with nature for students increase their connection to nature. Data collected gives empirical evidence supporting claims agriculture is taking on a different identity in higher education. Findings illustrate a re-visioning of how higher education is interfacing with agriculture and agriculture-based education beyond traditional land-grant university and colleges of agriculture. Interviews, photo elicitation, field observations, and use of the Connectedness to Nature Scale and Inclusion of Nature Scale during in the summer of 2013 at Yale University Farm and the University of Montana’s PEAS Farm illustrate student perceptions of and connection to nature, agriculture, and food.


Moleen Madzivamoleen_madziva@yahoo.com

 View the presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv9BQoECJaE

 Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore the emerging theme of abundance consciousness in sustainable community development in the Zimbabwean village of Macheke. It begins with a summarized description of the poverty framework that gave rise to the research, including my lived experience as an indigenous Zimbabwean woman. An inquiry into business sustainability and appreciative theory suggests a shift in focusing on the potential rather the need. A consideration of spirituality as a fourth dimension of sustainability is offered and GNH (gross national happiness) is suggested as a development progress measurement tool. The role that development institutions have played and the direction in which the sustainable development discourse is taking are central to assessing challenges and opportunities that rural development practitioners face. Macheke provides the community context within which the suggested solutions and practical implications of an integrated solution to resilience and thrivability are applied.  My observations over the years heavily focused on the economic challenges faced in Macheke, but this has evolved into a study where sustainable social change is holistically investigated. This paper expands into a research project that examines what poverty is and whether sustainability is achievable. I discuss in depth my research methods of participatory action research and ethnography as well as the relevance of the methodologies I employed. There exists a confluence of indigenous community, commerce and environmental sustainability - I inquire if this is possible for the development of my village. I inherited African Spirituality and it is from this place that my study develops.

Tags: Poverty, Sustainability, Community Development, Abundance Consciousness, Transformational Leadership, Spirituality, Zimbabwe, Macheke



View the presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uea7PfnVfg

Abstract: Climate change is often framed in public discourse as a polarized, intractable issue.  The purpose of this dissertation was to explore deliberation about climate action, and to evaluate whether effective responses to climate change could be facilitated through new structures and processes that enable dialogue about how to reduce emissions. This research involved both an action componentby creating new spaces for deliberation about climate action, and a research component, by creating new knowledge about this practice.  Three questions guided this research: 1) what motivated individuals to engage in deliberation about climate action; 2) how did individual engagement vary and affect the quality of the deliberation; and, 3) how effective were the deliberations in building individual agency and generating collaborative action strategies to address climate change.  Data were obtained from 1) pre- and post-survey questionnaires completed by participants at each deliberation, 2) detailed notes tracking the conversations at each table by designated note-takers, 3) evaluations of the group deliberations from a moderator and note-taker at each table, 4) focus group interviews with moderators and note-takers, and 5) notes from organizational planning and debriefing meetings.  By way of integrating quantitative and qualitative data through this mixed methods study, I offer a holistic analysis for the three deliberative events convened.  The process generated collaborative action strategies and increased participants’ sense of agency; it also revealed interesting insight into how the engagement of individual participants differed and affected the quality of the group deliberation.  This research provides new insight into opportunities for leading deliberation about climate action.