Place Empathy and Environmental Education

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Date

2018-04-27

Authors

Zakharova, Tatiana

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Publisher

University of Guelph

Abstract

Ministry of Education documents define environmental education as education about, for, and in the environment. But how does formal curriculum actually describe “environment” in different subject areas and what does this say about students’ relationship with it? Relying on hermeneutics for foundation and methodology, I analyse and interpret the Ontario Grade 2 and Grade 3 environmental education curriculum and identify themes of damaged connectivity and fear of complexity that can be addressed with place empathy. Having defined place empathy as a cognitive and affective representation process in which an observer simulates another’s interpretations of place in order to deepen her understanding of place, and developed a place empathy framework, I identify a number of learning practices which could be used by teachers to engage students in place empathy to encourage, as I hypothesize, deeper understanding of and relationship with place. Ministry of Education documents define environmental education as education about, for, and in the environment. But how does formal curriculum actually describe “environment” in different subject areas and what does this say about students’ relationship with it? Relying on hermeneutics for foundation and methodology, I analyse and interpret the Ontario Grade 2 and Grade 3 environmental education curriculum and identify themes of damaged connectivity and fear of complexity that can be addressed with place empathy. Having defined place empathy as a cognitive and affective representation process in which an observer simulates another’s interpretations of place in order to deepen her understanding of place, and developed a place empathy framework, I identify a number of learning practices which could be used by teachers to engage students in place empathy to encourage, as I hypothesize, deeper understanding of and relationship with place.

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Keywords

empathy, place, ontario, curriculum, environmental education, empathic, landscape architecture

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