Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Encouraging environmental action and greater proenvironmental behavior has been a main focus of environmental education since its inception. However, many scholars feel that environmental education has largely been unsuccessful at achieving these goals. To invigorate the potential of environmental education, researchers have become more socially critical and started questioning old stances such as addressing the role of action within environmental education and embraced new techniques like examining the role of personal experiences in shaping people sense of identification with the environment. This dissertation is four separate studies that examine how a socially critical environmental education can help produces students who are prepared to tackle social and environmental problems. Using data collected from six months of participant observation at an environmental justice youth program in New Orleans, LA and a review of the environmental justice literature, I examine the role of critical environmental education in shaping youth proenvironmental behavior, the power dynamics between youth and adults in such a program, and the role of significant life experiences in shaping youth environmentalism. I also use the data to generate theory on the significance of negative significant life experiences in shaping one’s social/environmental identity- a theory that can be used as a pedagogical tool for understanding how to generate future activists who will be able to genuinely tackle the world’s social/environmental problems.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Becker, Sarah



Included in

Sociology Commons