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NewsMar 16, 2016

Scientists, educators and communities work together to restore urban environments

Conversation echoes, promotes work of university’s Science in Education program

Community-based environmental restoration is attainable, whether it’s led by a student-run campus organization dedicated to promoting stewardship and responsible use of nearby conservation lands, or a gardening group that teaches youth and elders about local flora and fauna.

An audience recently gathered in University Hall to explore the nexus between civic engagement and education to safeguard the well-being of our environment. The conversation, titled “Urban Community-Based Environmental Restoration,” was led by Dr. Marianne E. Krasny, professor and director of the Civic Ecology Lab in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. 

Attendees included Lesley undergraduate and graduate students as well as individuals from local environmental education organizations, such as the Trustees of Reservations and Museum Institute for Teaching Science.

Krasny spoke about the three civic ecology principles: Learning, policy and governance. She illustrated her work through local, national and international programs she is involved with including urban gardening in the Bronx, stream clean-up and restoration in South Carolina, and a global online course developed by her Civic Ecology Lab. 

“We need to approach civic ecology through the development of local innovations that expand to encompass multiple partnerships,” reflected Lesley Associate Professor Susan Rauchwerk, co-director of the EcoNet lab, and of the elementary education programs in the Graduate School of Education, who helped organize the conversation.

Dr. Krasny’s presentation was followed by a discussion about attendees’ collaborative work and interests in civic ecology around local gardening programs, climate change conferences, public art installations and teacher education.

“It was encouraging to see participants stay afterward to exchange contact information and discuss local collaborations,” commented Jen Klein, a doctoral candidate in the Individually Designed PhD program who invited Krasny to speak at GSOE.

The event underscored the programming and goals of Lesley’s Science in Education master's degree and certificate programs.

“We are committed to fostering local environmental stewardship actions, and inspiring our educators to enhance infrastructure and well-being in cities and other human-dominated systems,” said Lesley Assistant Professor Dr. Nicole Weber, co-director of the EcoNet Lab and Director of the Science in Education elementary education program at GSOE.

The conversation, held on March 4, was presented by Lesley’s EcoNet Lab, where scientists learn to be better educators, and educators learn to be better scientists – all within a community of collaboration. EcoNet Lab activities focus on community environmental issues, ecological group partnerships, and educating teachers and members of the public about the intersection of their