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Critical pedagogy of place to enhance ecological engagement activities


Scientists in higher education institutions around the globe recognize the importance of engaging with public stakeholders to share their enthusiasm, explain their science, and encourage primary and secondary students to enter the sciences. However, without direct consideration of students’ and teachers’ perspectives and interests, scientists may design activities around their own goals, limiting the impact on school stakeholders (i.e., students, teachers, paraprofessional staff, students’ parents, and other caregivers). We drew from natural and social science research to describe how expanding the conception of place beyond the biophysical can help engage school stakeholders in meaningful ways. We describe the multidimensional PLACE framework that we developed to integrate perspectives, knowledge, and values of all stakeholders in engagement programming. The framework is organized around topics that stakeholders should discuss early on to ensure successful partnerships. We recommend that scientists identify and use pedagogy that is inclusive; language framed around dialogic communication methods; aims and motivations centered on engagement; cultural funds of knowledge of place (i.e., disciplinary, personal, or experiential knowledge); and evaluation of engagement based on meaningful metrics. Two case studies are presented to illustrate how the PLACE framework components, when addressed, can lead to robust, successful partnerships between scientists and schools.


Cicchino, A. S., Weinberg, A. E., Sample McMeeking, L. B., & Balgopal, M. M. (2023). Critical pedagogy of place to enhance ecological engagement activities. Conservation Biology37(2), e14023.

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