On Representation in Environmental Education
Knology researcher Rupu Gupta goes on the Talaterra podcast to talk representation, equity, and appreciating multiple perspectives in environmental education.
Why study the racial and ethnic composition of environmental educators? Knology researcher Rupu Gupta explained on the Talaterra podcast that, to many, the professional environmental education field appears strikingly homogenous, with a seeming abundance of White women. This, she says, can be surprising when we consider that our research shows the field is more diverse than is currently acknowledged.
In August 2019, the Talaterra podcast interviewed Gupta for two back-to-back episodes. In one episode of the podcast, she discusses a census-style study to track who self-identifies as an environmental educator in the United States. This study revealed that the environmental education field is more ethnically diverse compared to the US population in general. Moreover, there are different ways of working in the field; beyond the paid professional community, there are many who work in a volunteer capacity or as vocation (For more about this part of the study, see this article.)
With these findings in hand, Gupta talks about what diversity beyond racial and ethnic lines means for the environmental field. In particular, she draws attention to educators’ range of perspectives about the goal of environmental education -- which are deeply tied to social and cultural issues. At Knology, she has been studying approaches to foster collaboration among different groups and advance their complex environmental goals.
In a subsequent episode of the podcast, Gupta describes a professional development tool that is designed to foster appreciation and respect of multiple worldviews around environmental education. Using an interactive card-sorting activity, groups or individuals can reflect on their personal beliefs about environmental education, and how these relate to broadly held beliefs in the field.
Photo by US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District