Developing curriculum that engages students in evaluating their relationship with the natural environment

By Robin Reid

How can curriculum at the post secondary level be used to initiate discussion and reflection for students about current environmental issues and their personal relationship with the natural environment? This is explored through student observations and analysis of personal vehicle use over a four day period. The purpose of the analysis was to engage students in understanding both their personal relationship with and modern societies’ relationship with the private vehicle and the implications of this relationship on the natural environment. The data in this study are from 24 student journals documenting their vehicle use in two winter semesters (2006 and 2007). The results from the journals show five emergent themes relevant to personal vehicle use; time, convenience, freedom, cost and the environment. Within these themes student observations included insights into the challenges associated with changing human behavior towards the natural environment at a local and global level. This paper contributes to the larger discussion about curriculum that engages students in transformative education.

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