MS in Environmental Studies in Environmental Education

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Make meaning out of the world.

The best educators help people make meaning out of the world by challenging them to think critically, understand deeply, and translate knowledge into action. Our integrated, experientially-based program exposes you to a variety of techniques, educational settings, and curricular designs. You experience environmental interpretation techniques, school-relevant design, exhibit development and evaluation, research processes, and environmental communication approaches.

Get individualized attention.

Each student develops an educational philosophy and program direction based on personal interests and professional goals that reflect clear values and knowledge of how people learn. Throughout the program, you develop a portfolio of educational approaches that identify and direct you to the best possible professional application of your education.

Environmental educators translate the complex web of earth systems science, sustainability, environmental issues, and environmental change for the public. Our work is to lay bare the interface between humans and the planet to facilitate ecological literacy and ecologically responsible behavior. As we assist people in becoming more sensitive to and aware of earth systems and environmental change, we also provide the knowledge, skills, and motivation for sustainable living.

Our work demands that we be holistic systems thinkers who are able to make interconnections across difference and seek solutions to the complex environmental challenges we witness today. We must be adaptive leaders who are creative, open to new ideas, and able to work in a variety of community contexts. Our work is to build a more ecologically literate population that makes decisions with the earth in mind, empowered by the knowledge and skills to work individually and collectively toward the solution of current environmental problems, and the prevention of new problems through sustainable living.

An effective environmental educator has a working knowledge of natural history and a foundation in ecological principles, earth systems science, and global environmental change. Environmental education requires an understanding of the social, political, and economic aspects of human systems and how they impact the ecological system. Being an environmental educator means understanding how people learn and what motivates and compels people to change. This specialization balances knowledge about the learning process with a solid foundation in environmental science and acquisition of effective teaching methodologies and educational designs.

Program Delivery

  • 42 credits
  • Begins in Fall
  • Classes Thursdays and Fridays plus a capstone project
  • 5 semesters to complete

Antioch University New England is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Environmental education incorporates ecological awareness and literacy into people’s daily lives and communities. We help people understand that the everyday decisions made in the home, school, and workplace are reflected in the health of the planet. We encourage people to relate to the place where they live in a caring and responsible way. It is difficult work to ask people to examine their lifestyle and to evaluate the ecological impact of behaviors, values, beliefs, and habits. Doing so challenges deeply set knowledge about how the world works, cultural and spiritual beliefs, and historical patterns.

This work takes clear thinking, conviction, creativity, resolute goals, and clearly stated purpose. Students of environmental education are expected to:

  1. Develop a working knowledge of natural history, earth systems science, and environmental change.
  2. Understand the social-political-economic dynamics of environmental change.
  3. Develop competency in learning theory and educational design.
  4. Develop a portfolio of effective educational methodologies and communication strategies.
  5. Gain leadership, group process, and cultural competency skills to apply effectively in a variety of educational and community-based contexts.

As environmental educators, we are inventors and pioneers of a new educational approach. We are creating a type of education that challenges people to rethink the way they relate to the world and the way they live within the world, rather than maintaining the status quo. How do we cultivate an educated citizenry which is guided by a sense of duty, obligation, and responsibility for the health and welfare of the planet? How do we create communities that are inclusive of difference and meet the needs and interests of all?

We are challenged to consider the routes of knowledge about the environment, the origins of emotional involvement with the world, and the conditions under which environmental concern becomes expressed through action in order to understand how to cultivate environmental values and ethics. As educators and lifelong leaders and learners, we must be committed to learning methods that allow and encourage examination of values without threatening or alienating people from the learning process.

Our job as educators is to creatively plant questions. Our work involves reorienting beliefs and establishing new concepts about earth processes. We shake the ground people have comfortably walked on for years. We raise dissonance over the way people-and the communities in which we all live-have habitually related to and responded to the environment. Our job is to motivate people, including ourselves, to become involved in the processes of sustainable growth and governance of the planet. We invite and enable citizens to participate in the political, economic, and social transformation that will determine the quality of their own lives and the long-term health of the planet.

You will find environmental educators in non-profit, business, and governmental settings, including nature centers, zoos, K-12 schools, universities and community colleges, radio and TV stations, museums, corporations, aquariums, summer camps-wherever the need for environmental expertise interfaces with education and communication.

Track 1: Students who choose Track 1 register for 4 courses in both their first Fall and first Spring semesters. This track provides students with an opportunity to schedule the entire Summer and/or Spring II semesters off campus. *This is the preferred sequence for those intending to do a Master’s Thesis or Master’s Project.

Track 2: Students who choose Track 2 register for a maximum of 3 courses per semester. This Track provides students with a more evenly paced sequence of coursework throughout their program.

REQUIREMENTS: 42 CREDITS

Select any 3 out of 4 CORE courses

Core (C)—9 credits; Concentration (T)—6 credits; Methods: courses selected by student—18 credits; Internship—6 credits; Capstone Project—3 credits

Track 1

Track 2

Fall I (12 credits)
Earth Systems and Climate Change (C)(3)
Community Ecology of the New England Landscape (C)(3)
Foundations of Environmental Education (T)(3)
Methods (3)
Fall I (9 credits)
Earth Systems and Climate Change (C)(3)
Community Ecology of the New England Landscape (C)(3)
Foundations of Environmental Education (T)(3)
Spring I (12 credits)
Political Economy of Sustainability (C)(3)
Program Planning and Design (T)(3)
Methods (3)
Methods (3)
Spring I (9 credits)
Political Economy of Sustainability (C)(3)
Program Planning and Design (T)(3)
Methods (3)
Summer (3 credits)
Internship I (3)
Summer (6 credits)
Internship I (3)
Methods (3)
Fall II (9 credits)
Leadership for Change (C)(3)
Methods (3)
Methods (3)
Fall II (9 credits)
Leadership for Change (C)(3)
Methods (3)
Methods (3)
 Spring II (6 credits)
Capstone Project (3)
Internship II (3)
Spring II (9 credits)
Capstone Project (3)
Methods (3)
Internship II (3)

Sample Method Courses include:

  • Advanced Topics in Environmental Education:
    • Program Evaluation
    • Urban Environmental Education
    • Teaching Teachers about the Environment
    • Educating for Sustainability
    • Educational Aspects of Green Building Design
  • Environmental Education Field Techniques:
    • Community & School-based Food Systems
    • Teaching in the Outdoors
    • Interpretation and Exhibit Design
    • Environmental Service Learning
    • Learning Development and Theory
    • Conservation Psychology and Social Marketing

Additional Method courses include:

  • Building Sustainable Organizations (BSO)
  • Citizen Participation and Sustainable Communities
  • Climate Change: Resilience, Adaptation and Mitigation
  • Coastal Geoecology of New England (Fall 2011 field study trip)
  • Conservation Biology
  • Cuba: Sustainability and the New Food System (Fall 2012 registration; January 2013 field study trip)
  • Ecology and Management of Adirondack Mountains (Fall 2012 field study trip)
  • Ecosystems of Mount Desert Island (Spring 2012 field study trip)
  • Energy and Materials Sustainability
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Assessment Techniques
  • Financial Administration
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • Integrated Conservation of Tropical Ecosystems: Costa Rica (Spring 2012 March field study trip)
  • Land Use and Community Planning
  • Making Sense of Place
  • Natural Resource Inventory
  • New England Flora
  • Non Profit Organizations & Social Entrepreneurship
  • Organizing for Social Change
  • Ornithology
  • Principles of Sustainability
  • Proposal Writing and Project Management
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Design Techniques
  • Soil Ecology
  • Soils Mapping and Interpretation
  • Vertebrate Ecology: Mammalogy
  • Wetlands Ecology
  • Wildlife & Forest Management

Writing

Communication of ideas depends on clear and engaging discourse through writing. Assignments might include:

  • Succinct and directed research and reaction papers that critique existing theory and practice
  • Essays that identify personal and professional values and beliefs and support work in the field of environmental education
  • Observations and anecdotal records of behavior drawn from a diversity of cultural, social, or environmental situations
  • Text for exhibits, interpretive signs, public service announcements, radio scripts, and other venues of communication
  • Effective use of electronic media venues like websites, blogs, etc.

Philosophy Statement and Portfolio

Formulating a succinct and comprehensive statement of the values and beliefs that underlie your professional choice as an environmental educator into a set of directives for action is one focal point of the program. Students write a paper stating the ‘whys’ that support their environmental values and actions, life-style choices, advocacy, and professional goals. This is a personal statement that helps one return to their core beliefs when encountering the jungle of possibilities and controversies that define this work. It is a professional directional arrow. The statement and a portfolio of exemplary work are updated throughout the program and culminate as a professional portfolio in the final semester.

Tree of Environmental Education

This assignment is a seminal activity in the Foundations of Environmental Education class and uses the metaphor of a tree to capture each student’s personal and professional evolution as an environmental educator. It is a good example of the use of art and alternative forms of exhibiting learning used in this program. The ‘roots’ represent the supportive foundation of values, beliefs, and actions that have led students toward this professional choice. Information listed here might include mentors, parents, books or academic coursework, epiphanies, and significant transformative experiences. The trunk contains the dynamic flow of transitions, transformations, controversies, and interchanges with significant others that occur as the influence of the ‘roots’ lead to behavioral changes. The branches and leaves contain the fruition of the rooted values and transformative experiences in the kinds of work, life-style or recreational choices, participation in advocacy or activism, and educational pursuits one chooses.

Program Planning and Design for Formal and Non-Formal Audiences

Environmental education takes place in public institutions and community-based settings like museums, nature centers, residential learning centers, zoos, governmental offices, universities, farms and for-profit businesses, as well as in public and private schools. Knowing how to develop of a course of study in a variety of settings is essential. Students have created curriculum design projects like:

  • The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mountain High Classroom (a week-long residential program for 5th and 6th grade school children)
  • Revised the Rainforest Alliance curriculum for their website
  • Evaluated and researched curriculum for the CEEonline website
  • Created curriculum for public schools in place-based bioregional education
  • Designed teacher training curricula using the environment as an integrating context for all grade levels
  • Sustainability education programs for municipal leaders and city planners

Environmental Communications and Media

Students actively learn to communicate about environmental issues, ecological events, and life-style choices through a variety of media venues. Classes may include a focus on:

  • “Writing for the Real World” of magazines, newspapers, and journals
  • Learning techniques for radio journalism and TV
  • Writing children’s books
  • Designing websites and videos
  • Conservation psychology and social marketing

Interpretive Trail and Educational Exhibit Design

Classes may involve students in the development of rich and engaging educational and interpretive projects for the public. This demands capturing an environmental concept like the essence of a landscape or the state of a particular habitat in a one-minute lesson. Whether in a zoo or museum setting or the construction of a nature trail, grabbing the attention of a person who wants both a recreationally entertaining and an educational experience in a short-shot is a challenge. Students work through the creation of a Big Idea into tactics and learning strategies to inspire curiosity, provocative questions, and conceptual understandings that enhance ecological literacy and educate about environmental change and responsible action. Examples of sites where classes have made significant contributions on-site include: Bronx Zoo, Harris Center for Conservation Education, the Appalachian Mountain Club huts, Children’s Museums, urban parks, Audubon-certified golf courses, and nature centers.

Educating for Sustainability

Courses and projects challenge the student to explore new fields of ecologically responsive design and the creation of ‘ecologically sustainable living and learning centers.’ Students have opportunities to participate in designing learning experiences that guide public and private teachers through the comprehensive ‘greening’ of their schools, or that help nature centers practice what they teach in their own building facilites. Students may be involved in projects that organize more local foods in school cafeterias, community-sustained gardening, or urban food projects.

Community-based Environmental Education

Engaging stakeholders and enhancing authentic participation within and among diverse youth and adult groups is essential to solving complex environmental challenges. Effective environmental educators have the facilitative leadership skills to collaborate effectively within a variety of community contexts. Through coursework and professional internships, students hone their group process skills and enhance their cultural competencies. Students can explore community-based efforts through the lens of citizen science as well. Across the globe, citizens are actively involved with biological monitoring, ecological restoration, and other conservation efforts. How can we best empower and engage community members in biomonitoring and restorative practices? Students may explore the individual, communal, and organizational impacts of citizen science and other community-based efforts among youth and adults. Antioch students have developed ecological restoration workshops for K-12 teachers, actively participated in national restoration-based education initiatives, and implemented local teacher workshops for developing rain gardens on school grounds and other community sites. Students are engaged in other locally based initiatives, including Antioch University New England’s Monadnock Ecological Research and Education Project and Cheshire County’s Monadnock Farm and Community Connection, which works to ensure a healthy community rooted in sustainable agriculture.

Capstone Project

Graduate students in the environmental studies master’s programs have four capstone options for demonstrating their knowledge, skills, and competencies in environmental studies (ES). These options include:

  • Thesis
  • Master’s Project
  • Student Teaching Practicum
  • Collaborative Service Initiative

Students may find themselves at the Teton Science School designing and delivering undergraduate educational experiences in field-based research or place-based learning. Some find their way to the Bronx Zoo in New York City or the New England Aquarium, designing conservation curricula, developing interactive exhibits, or facilitating educational programs for youth and adults. Some work in organizations dedicated to making school food healthier and more sustainable or creating local gardens in the community to supply food for the educational facilities. Others are integrating environmental science into outdoor adventure programming or assessing the sustainability of school campuses. Still others work in community non-profits, city municipalities, or private businesses to enhance their sustainability efforts through effective education and communication strategies.

The following represent some of the recent internship sites of students in the Environmental Education program:

  • Audubon International: Assisted in the Audubon certification of Baker Hill Golf Club in Newbury, NH, including wildlife and habitat management, integrated pest management, water conservation, outreach, and education
  • Grafton Nature Center, Grafton, VT: Designed and implemented environmental education curriculum focused on watersheds
  • Lake Sunapee Protective Association, Sunapee, NH: As Watershed Protection assistant, assisted water quality restoration projects, prepared environmental education materials, and answered local citizen’s questions about the watershed
  • Living on Earth, Somerville, MA: Researched, produced, and edited weekly environmental issues show on public radio
  • National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, Washington, DC: Provided upcoming program support including a new page on the Classroom Earth website and a new educational partnership with NOAA
  • New England Wildflower Society, Framingham, MA: Assisted in teaching second and fourth grade public school classrooms about local flora
  • Pitcher Mountain Community Supported Agriculture, Keene, NH: Worked on the CSA farm including planting, harvesting, watering, and building raised beds
  • Seeds of Solidarity, Orange, MA: Developed and taught a garden program for teenagers, developed a handbook for local schools on how to create and maintain school gardens
  • Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH: Environmental educator for grades PreK-6, led classes including wildlife in winter, ice harvesting, and maple sugaring
  • Tanglewood 4H Camp and Learning Center, Lincolnville, ME: Coordinated and trained summer staff, developed environmental education curriculum, coordinated and taught day camp program
  • Ashuelot Valley Environmental Observatory, Keene, NH: Designed and co-facilitated educational workshops relating to citizen science initiatives
  • Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Waterbury, VT: Developed and led youth conservation crew experiences, designed and implemented a plan for a pilot AmeriCorps program at the VYCC
  • Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY: Exhibit design and interpretation projects at the Bronx Zoo; researched and evaluated existing exhibits at the zoo
  • Conservation Psychology Network/Antioch Environmental Studies Department, Keene, NH: Created book prospectus, including sample activities, for conservation psychology activity book for use by formal and nonformal educators to teach and apply principles of this growing field
  • Whole Terrain, student editor, Keene, NH: solicited authors and crafted Antioch University New England’s journal of reflective environmental practice from “zero to press”
  • Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY: Completed research interview process with children to gain a deeper understanding of ecoliteracy
  • Cool Monadnock (Partnership between Antioch New England Institute & Clean Air Cool Planet), Keene, NH: Collected energy and fuel data for municipality’s buildings to create town greenhouse gas inventory reports. Created communications plan for Cool Monadnock Neighbors Helping Neighbors program
  • Student Conservation Association, Seattle, WA: Served as crew leader for high school students doing trail work at Mt. Rainier National Park
  • U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development: Worked with president on wide-variety of projects, ranging from marketing and writing articles to fundraising efforts and web creation to support creation of this international organization.
  • Life Is Good Company, Hudson, NH: Designed educational programs on site to enhance sustainability efforts
  • International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI: Developed and led interpretive tours and programs associated with crane exhibits, nature trails, ecological restoration, and other site features