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Learning as Change: Responding to Socio-Scientific Issues through Informal Learning

Allen, Lauren (2016) Learning as Change: Responding to Socio-Scientific Issues through Informal Learning. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Informal learning is an important venue for educating the general public about complex socio- scientific issues: intersections of scientific understanding and society. My dissertation is a multi- tiered analysis of how informal education, and particularly informal educators, can leverage learning to respond to one particular socio-scientific issue: climate change. Life-long, life-wide, and life-deep learning not only about the science of climate change, but how communities and society as a whole can respond to it in ways that are commensurate with its scale are necessary.
In my three-article dissertation, I investigated the changes in practice and learning that informal educators from a natural history museum underwent in the process of implementing a new type of field trip about climate change. This study focused on inquiry-based learning principles taken on by the museum educators, albeit in different ways: learner autonomy, conversation, and deep investigation. My second article, a short literature review, makes the argument that climate change education must have goals beyond simply increasing learners’ knowledge of climate science, and proposes three research-based principles for such learning: participation, relevance, and interconnectedness. These principles are argued to promote learning to respond to climate change as well as increased collective efficacy, necessary for responding. Finally, my third article is an in-depth examination of a heterogeneous network of informal educators and environmental professionals who worked together to design and implement a city- wide platform for informal climate change learning. By conceptualizing climate change learning at the level of the learning ecology, educators and learners are able to see how it can be responded to at the community level, and understand how climate change is interconnected with other scientific, natural, and social systems. I briefly discuss a different socio-scientific issue to which these principles can be applied: heritable, human manipulation of other biological entities; in other words, genetic engineering.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Allen, Laurenlba8@pitt.eduLBA8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrowley, Kevincrowleyk@pitt.eduCROWLEYK
Committee MemberStein, Mary Kaymkstein@pitt.eduMKSTEIN
Committee MemberRussell, Jennifer Linjrussel@pitt.eduJRUSSEL
Committee MemberKinchy,
Date: 21 April 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 January 2016
Approval Date: 21 April 2016
Submission Date: 24 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 157
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Learning Sciences and Policy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Informal Learning, Climate Change Education
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2016 14:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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