Elizabeth P. McCann, PhD

Core Faculty and Director of Environmental Education Concentration
Department of Environmental Studies

AUNE Contact Information


Highest Degree

PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Other Degrees & Credentials

MS, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
BA, Rhodes College

Areas of Expertise

Adult education, community-based/non-formal education, schoolyard restoration, fair food and agriculture


Libby received her PhD in adult education, with an emphasis in environmental education, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation, “Passion and Persistence: A Study of Communities of Practice in Schools,” earned her the Russell J. Hosler Award for Outstanding Dissertation. She received her MS in natural resource policy and administration from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Her master’s thesis, “Unearthing the Land Ethic: A Study of Farmers’ Values, Beliefs and Practices,” speaks to her interest in sustainable agriculture. Libby launched and became Wisconsin coordinator for both Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) and Adopt-A-Lake, an inter-generational community-based environmental education program. These programs provide teacher professional development and youth-adult leadership opportunities through local water education projects.

At the UW-Madison Arboretum, Libby directed Earth Partnership for Schools, a national program working with interdisciplinary teams of K-12 teachers and resource personnel implementing native plant gardens as outdoor classrooms. She secured multi-year grants through Howard Hughes Medical Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Institute of Museum and Library Services and private donors to support this award-winning program.

Libby served as board member and chair of the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education. She has consulting experience related to curriculum design, strategic planning, team building, and program evaluation. She has a strong interest in communities of practice, particularly in the context of environmental education and issues of social justice.

She has lived and worked in California, Washington, New Zealand, New Jersey and Wisconsin as an environmental and consumer organizer and environmental educator/interpreter. Libby’s childhood on a farm in Kentucky was foundational to her interest in land restoration, farming, environmental protection, and education.

The people here are truly passionate, committed, visionary, creative, even joyful in what they do. Their good work inspires me and also gives me hope for a brighter, more just future.