April 3rd, 2016

Place and Resilience: Editors’ Introduction

By Chiara D'Amore, Clare Hintz, Cirien Saadeh and Jeremy Solin

monarch place issue

Table of Contents: Place and Resilience in Sustainability Education, April 2016

Journey with us to the lands of the Hualapai and the Arapahoe, compare grounding in place experiences in Puerto Rico with those in highland Ecuador; visit mountain museums in the Alps.  The term sense of place integrates the physical place with the psychological and social elements of creating meaning and attachment, and with political economic dimensions of place engagement or citizenship action. Research has consistently shown that a sense of place is an important motivator for environmentally responsible behavior.  As a result, the complex concept of sense of place is of interest to a variety of fields including conservation, education, community organizing and planning, psychology and sociology for its potential to understand and motivate human behavior.

This issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education was born out of the research of three recent alumni of the Prescott College PhD Program in Sustainability Education. Each of us actively explored the relationships between sense of place and sustainability in our academic research and continue to focus on this area in our professional work: fostering social and ecological well-being by connecting families with nearby nature (Chiara); the experiences of women practicing regenerative agriculture (Clare); and engagement in community food systems and sense of place (Jeremy). Together we are working to create a community of practice around the relationship between sense of place and sustainability, of which this issue is a part. We are grateful for the support of the Toyota TogetherGreen Program by Audubon in the development of this community of practice. Please visit www.senseofplace-matters.com/ and www.facebook.com/senseofplacematters to be a part of this conversation and community! We look forward to sharing resources and experiences that will benefit all our places.  For this issue,we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all of the reviewers who so selflessly gave of their time and expertise.

Just as place scholarship reaches across and through many disciplines, so this issue ranges widely, including 14 scholarly features as well as media reviews, case studies, photo and poetic essays, and sustainability journeys. Disciplinary lenses include the arts, sociology, philosophy, natural resource management, sports science, and archaeology, among others.

Sense of place has been shown to be a motivator for pro-environment behaviors, although the relationship is not always consistent or clear.  Articles in this issue contribute to our understanding of this relationship.  McCullough and Kellison consider how fans’ senses of place can be used to motivate behaviors that decrease the environmental impact of sporting events.

Thompson and Prokopy present findings to demonstrate that sense of place positively influences individuals’ support for protecting farmland.  Cachelin and colleagues describe how participatory action research, grounded in place, can help clarify concepts of sustainability and provide a critical framework to evaluate equity, ecological integrity, and economics that bridges disciplinary lines.  Asselin elegantly highlights the need to understand overlapping and contradictory narratives of place, and positions experience as an important determinant of emergent meaning.

The formation of sense of place is also an area in which our understanding is still developing.   Johnson, Schnakenberg and Perdue explore how farm tours help form a sense of place.  Learning may shape a positive and action-oriented understanding of one’s locale.  Silverman and Ayres explore how a sense of place and resiliency are fostered through innovative, interdisciplinary sustainability education, while Bonney and Duram highlight opportunities for the discipline of geography to inform sustainability education. Partridge examines two indigenous informal education centers in the highlands of Ecuador through the lenses of ecopedagogy and draws connections between grounding in place and resistance to neocolonial forces.  Walsh and colleagues present the promise of an energy tracker curriculum for promoting home-school connections and youth agency in climate action.  Groshek documents and wryly reflects on the work of his design students when they were invited to deeply explore a field over seasons.  Koushik examines how a contemporary view of place as dynamic and always becoming can shape education policy and practice.

Dwelling and residence are foundational, but often contested ideas in the sense of place literature.  Vinlove presents results from research that investigated the relationships between teacher and student habitation and knowledge of place and the process of learning to teach.  Christion Myers draws on Heidegger’s philosophy and shares stories from Vieques, Puerto Rico to illustrate the power of people sharing what they most value about the places they call home. Cannon, and Redman and colleagues share traditional knowledge central to inhabiting their respective desert homes.

Similarly, the relationship between journeying and place attachment is layered and complex.  Ceruti shares a unique series of mountain museums that celebrate Tyrolean culture and mountaineering, and at the same time, explores the relationship between mountain and journey motifs.  The sacred nature of mountains is also illustrated in Greeson and Loney’s photo essay of Mauna Kea.  Jackson’s poetic essay creates a kaleidoscope of her life, that of her brother, and the places that have shaped them.  Aikens and colleagues explore the intersections between journey, attachment to place, and the life of scholars.

This edition of the Journal of Sustainability Education makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how we are shaped by place and, in turn, can shape our places.  Together, these diverse scholarly voices position place as a critical lens through which sustainability education might successfully develop engaged citizens of the very local and the very planetary scales.

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