Jonathan Lash Chair and Assistant Professor of Environmental Education
Tim is driven by a belief that environmental education is essential to the well-being of individuals, societies, and the planet. As a learning scientist, his scholarship and teaching over the past 17 years have focused on designing and implementing curricula, across a variety of learning contexts, that foster environmental stewardship. He has worked collaboratively with many organizations and institutions including the Lawrence Hall of Science, the National Geographic Society, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Monterey Bay and New York Aquariums, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Tim's work has received funding from the National Science Foundation and has been published in peer-reviewed journals, academic books, and books for teachers and policy makers.
In all, he's been teaching for nearly 30 years across higher education, museum and aquarium education, and outdoor environmental education contexts on topics such as ecology and environmental issues, cognitive and socio- cultural learning theory, theoretically-grounded curriculum design, research methodologies, and the intersection of critical theory and environmental education practice.
Research in the learning sciences, an interdisciplinary field seeking to advance the science on, and practices of, learning, has much to offer the field of environmental education. In this design-focused course, we will create, iterate, and pilot environmental and sustainability education curriculum materials. Working closely with local environmental organizations, public and private schools, museums, and/or preschools, we will pilot our designs with real learners in real settings. Throughout the course we will read primary source research articles, review curriculum and curriculum platforms designed by learning scientists, and engage with scholars focused on effective curriculum design. Students will create curricular interventions, write short papers that connect theory to practice, and engage in peer-review processes. This course was designed with Div II students in mind.
How do we help people learn about, understand, and enact pro-environmental behavior (e.g., drive less, political action, consumer choice)? We will explore this question through the example of the ocean. Marine ecosystems are under immense human pressures. Ninety percent of fish stocks are overfished; coral reefs are dying; dead zones are growing; ocean acidity is increasing. These all have human consequences, often disproportionately impacting marginalized people (poor; indigenous; minorities). Against this backdrop, we'll explore how to move forward through theories from cognitive science (why can't people "understand" climate issues?), ecopsychology (why don't people use less energy?), learning sciences (how do we design climate change curriculum), psychology (don't people care?), and cultural studies (indigenous peoples know how to live sustainably, right?). Through class discussion, whole-class and individual project-based work, and short class papers, students will develop broad-based knowledge about both marine science and perspectives for promoting a better human-nature future.
In recent years, as a result of interactions between cognitive psychology and education, we now have many ideas about classroom learning, and approaches to teaching, testing and assessment. We also have strong evidence that implementing these ideas could really improve learning for all children and youth, including those who are under- resourced. In this seminar we will work to understand the findings by reading and discussing a selection of theoretical works from cognitive science and psychology. We will examine the practical applications of these theories to education through discussion and time observing/assisting in a classroom or tutoring/mentoring. We will also learn how to evaluate educational claims. Students will be evaluated on a series of short reaction papers, a final paper, and their general participation. This course can be used to satisfy the Educational Psychology requirement for licensure students.
Critical pedagogy of place: a tool for environmental action and social change. In this advanced course on environmental education, we will read seminal works on notions of place (Thoreau; Leopold), critical pedagogy (Freire), place-based (Sobel), critical theory (hooks), queer ecology (Mortimer-Sandilands), and ecophilosophy. We will also read modern thinkers such as Gruenwald/Greenwood, Berry, Gough, and non-white, indigenous and gender diverse scholars LaDuke, Taylor, Hoffner and others. We will spend time in "places" (possibly including a field trip, or two) to investigate our own notions and perceptions thereof to connect the theory and practice. Students in this class will also participate in a whole-class, semester-long activity. Journaling, class discussion, class project participation, and writing a final paper will serve as forms of evaluation for this class. Prerequisite detail: CS 0194 Env. Ed.: Foundations and Inquiries (preferred). If the student has not take CS 0194, they must have taken an education course and a course on Critical Pedagogy or Critical Theory or receive Permission of the Instructor.
In this introductory course, students will explore the history, practices, career options, and problems of environmental education - educational efforts promoting an understanding of nature, environmentally responsible behavior, and protection of natural resources. Shifts in environmental education research foci, relationships to current and past environmental challenges (e.g., air pollution, species loss, climate change), and differences between U.S. and international efforts will be discussed. We will compare and contrast topics such as education for sustainable development, environmental education, conservation education, environmental behavior change, ecoliteracy, and interpretation. Students will be exposed to three lines of inquiry: critical pedagogy, educational research and experiential learning. In addition to assigned readings, students will choose a line of inquiry and follow that line of inquiry to: 1) design, in teams, an environmental education intervention and 2) write an individual paper on a topic of interest to the student related to environmental education.
This course will introduce students to the research methodology called Mixed-Methods. This methodology combines qualitative research approaches with quantitative research approaches, seeking the best of both research paradigms. This methodology is great for studying the effectiveness programs, curriculums, policies and other interventions with people. This course will involve a combination of discussion, case studies, and individual and team design projects. Topics will include specific methodologies such as surveys, interviews, observation protocols, case studies; methodological issues regarding validity and reliability, researcher-practitioner confounds; important techniques such as developing coding schemes, ensuring interrater reliability; and the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. We will use examples from cognitive science broadly but students with other disciplinary interests are encouraged. This course is designed to help prepare students for Div III research in many arenas. Students will be evaluated based upon class participation, individual project work, group project work, and a series of small papers. Prerequisite detail: Division II students with experience/interest in data collection and use for studying cognitive, educational and social science phenomena.
Where does good learning design (curriculum, museum exhibits, outdoor ed. programs, etc.) come from? What is the relationship between curriculum, etc. and pedagogy? How do good educators promote deep learning despite the current political climate that emphasizes content mastery and efficient instruction? Should learning design and instruction differ between school and non-school contexts? In this course, you will learn research-based practices for designing for learning, how to focus on conceptual understanding and the development of higher order thinking in a number of domains and across multiple contexts (schools, museums, outdoor environments, etc. Each student or group develops a curriculum, etc. unit on a topic of their choice. In addition, students get some practice teaching their materials to one another. This course is designed for Division II and III students who are interested in teaching in formal or non-formal settings or who are developing curriculum as part of their independent work. Prerequisite detail: education coursework - How People Learn; educational psychology, other education course
How do we create engaging, interesting, fun games? A growing area of interest for game designers is "educational games." But what does research on learning, especially from games, tell us about effective design that leads to learning? In this course, students will read about, design and play educational games. Through hands-on, project-based work, students will work individually and in teams to create at least two games that teach. These games can be in digital or non-digital format. The class will collaboratively create a set of criteria by which all games products will be measured for solid game design and effective teaching. As grounding for this work, we will read and discuss primary research literature on game design, game theory, effective educational game design practices, and theories about learning and teaching. Evaluations will be based upon game products, class participation and a short paper documenting the theories behind the game products. Prerequisite detail: This course is suited for advanced students (upper Division II or Div III) with some background in game design, education or both.