The Role of Place Attachment and Situated Sustainability Meaning-Making in Enhancing Student Civic-Mindedness: A Campus Farm Example

By Brandon H. Sorge, Francesca A. Williamson, Grant A. Fore and Julia L. Angstmann

Abstract:  This research explores the role that place attachment and place meaning towards an urban farm play in predicting undergraduate students’ civic-mindedness, an important factor in sustainability and social change.  In 2017 and 2018, three STEM courses at a private university in the Midwest incorporated a local urban farm as a physical and conceptual context for teaching course content and sustainability concepts. Each course included a four to six-week long place-based experiential learning (PBEL) module aimed at enhancing undergraduate STEM student learning outcomes, particularly place attachment, situated sustainability meaning-making (SSMM), and civic-mindedness. End-of-course place attachment, SSMM, and civic-mindedness survey data were collected from students involved in these courses and combined with institutionally provided demographic information. Place attachment and SSMM surveys, along with the course in which the students participated, were statistically significant predictors of students’ civic-mindedness score.

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An Ecology of Love: Women Farmers, Sense of Place, the Georgic Ethic, and Ecocentricity

By Clare Hintz

Women farmers in the U.S. are more likely than men to adopt more ecologically-based practices on their farms. In order for such practices to increase, it is relevant to understand how these women farmers learn the values and skills that shape their work. Place attachment (including the emotional connection to a locale and the intangible, felt meanings, values, and symbols) and place meaning (including personal values, socially and iteratively constructed values) seem to be important drivers of active care for place. These are mediated by ecological and social knowledge, experience, social relationships, and identity. If these factors are supportive rather than in tension with place attachment and place meaning, an active care for place can further develop the context for emotional bonds and the story of the locale. Regenerative farmers as well as others who work directly with the land are perhaps uniquely positioned to be leaders in the process of becoming part of a place. In this paper I summarize the literature about farmers’ relationship to place using a framework developed from the general sense of place literature. Finally, I discuss two aspects of this framework that emerged from research with 14 women farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota: a georgic ethic and an ecocentric perspective: functional components of an ecology of love.

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