Urban Youth and Environmental Participation: The Influence of Classroom Experiences
Alexandra Schindel

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University at Buffalo

Primary Discipline

Science Education
Global environmental concerns are one of the most pressing issues of our time because of their enormity and basis in human activity. In response, environmental education aims to prepare students to actively participate in addressing environmental issues and concerns at both societal and personal levels. Although a large body of research focuses on the active participation aim of environmental education, little is known about the pedagogical and curricular experiences that might support young people to develop as environmental participants. This concern is especially great for the youth in poor and urban communities who often live on the margins—socially, economically, and frequently environmentally as well.This research aims to investigate the relationship between urban young people’s environmental participation and their classroom experiences. The main research questions are: (1) What classroom experiences (curricula, pedagogy, and discourses) influence urban young people’s participation or non-participation with the environment?; (2) Why do some youth engage as environmental participants while others do not?; (3) What are environmental educators’ understandings of environmental participation and how do they enact them within their classroom practices? I will answer these questions by engaging in a multiple-site study that employs a mixed methods approach and combines in depth qualitative data with analysis of pre/post survey data. Findings from this project will begin building a research basis for the identification of classroom experiences that influence urban youth’s participation or non-participation with the environment. ”
About Alexandra Schindel
Alexandra Schindel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory and Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on issues of equity, power, and social justice in science education. In one line of research, she examines the theoretical and practical implications of the nascent field of social justice science education. In another line of research, she explores the contexts of formal environmental education to examine young people’s understandings of environmental action and citizenship and the ways in which classroom structures facilitate students’ environmental participation.

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