Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Environmental education is a discipline focused on teaching students about environmental issues, fostering a sense of responsibility for one’s surrounding environment, and developing a sense of place. Environmental education occurs in a wide range of formats including during classroom instruction, field trips, outdoor experience programs, environmental semester schools, and simple everyday interactions with the outdoors. Studies have proven the positive impact of environmental education and outdoor experiences impacts on students, which include increased engagement, behavioral improvement, and deeper immersion in the material. The environmental education field, however, faces a number of limitations such as insufficient accessibility, lack of teacher confidence in implementation, and the rigidity of education standards. Additionally, much of environmental education pedagogy centers on the American definition of wilderness. The American wilderness is a problematic concept and is founded on the violent removal of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral land through settler colonialism in the United States. This context is crucial to understanding the positionality of environmental education and outdoor recreation alike, which both rely on and perpetuate this reality. This paper suggests the implementation of urban environmental education as a means to de-center the problematic aspects of wilderness and expand on the classic western notion of nature. Urban environmental education as a field would require the inclusion of built city environments within our definition of nature, which would expand the accessibility, relevance, and inclusivity of the discipline. This thesis analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of environmental education and explores the possibility of urban environmental education as a discipline.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

William Wallace

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1pdf file


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.