The ECI has four specific goals:
- Training students to be critical thinkers about conservation in a local, regional, national and global context.
- Training students to think about the environmental issues through a focus on “place” and integrating the ecological and cultural contexts of conservation.
- Training students to be “write” about the environment through a variety of digital means (visual, textual, social).
- Connecting students to scientists, employers, and environmental organizations (across education, media, corporations, non-profit, and advocacy).
Our implementation strategy:
The ECI operates with a specific pedagogy that is not issue based (climate change or pollution) or theme based (water or farming) but rather one focused on (a) Place and (b) Experience.
Place refers to the idea that ecological, cultural and mediated understandings of the environment are primarily experienced through a Place—a sandbox, a favorite bench in a favorite park, a mountain, a beach. A focus on Place allows for an emotional and cognitive connection to issues of conservation that an issue or theme based approach to environmental communication typically does not.
Experience refers to the stuff of lived reality, rather than the abstract learning of taxonomies (plants, landscapes, organisms). This approach is a bedrock principle for ECI. A commitment to issues of conservation has to be felt, rather than learnt. Experience in this sense involves the seamless integration of lived experience with ecological/cultural knowledge—and, almost simultaneously, the expression of that experience via media.