Translating environmental education research to practice

Posted by Lauren Hertel on Monday, January 6 2014


To help bridge the gap between research and practice, NatureBridge partners with Dr. Nicole Ardoin at Stanford University and her team of researchers to create semiannual Environmental Education Research Bulletins. Their goal is to synthesize and summarize research recently reported in the peer-reviewed literature that may help environmental educators, organizations, and agencies critically reflect on and improve their practice.

The Research Bulletins are designed to inform NatureBridge and other field science educators about recent relevant research; therefore, the emphasis is on field science, stewardship behavior, and residential settings, among other topics. Other environmental educators and conservation practitioners might also find this bulletin useful, although they do not comprehensively cover all aspects of environmental education- and environmental behavior-related research.

This is not the first project on which Nicole has collaborated with Christy Merrick. They have been working together on various projects since before they were Switzer Fellows. "Nicole and I met at World Wildlife Fund in the 1990s, at my first job in environmental education," explains Christy. "She was a mentor to me then, and she is still today. She has become a true leader in the field, and I've been thrilled to work with her on this project." Nicole says, "This project seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to capitalize on Christy’s ability to translate research to practice and so, when my colleagues at NatureBridge and I developed this idea—a way to translate research articles for practitioners and write them up in a digestible format with a bottom line that would be relevant for and applicable to practice—I knew that Christy would be a terrific person for the job. Christy's accessible yet also scientifically accurate and careful writing style and her strong training in environmental science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies—coupled with her many years of consulting with environmental NGOs—made her perfect for the job."

Translating scientific research into terms a lay audience can understand is one of the cornerstones of leadership practice supported by the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. We regularly provide training opportunities for our Fellows on reaching out to the media and policymakers to develop their capacity in this important area. 

The next issue of the EE Research Bulletin will arrive this spring.  In the meantime, you can download previous issues at the NatureBridge website.

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