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Education and Resilience: Social and Situated Learning among University and Secondary Students

Marianne E Krasny, Cornell University
Keith G. Tidball, Department of Natural Resources; Cornell University
Nadarajah Sriskandarajah, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


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Similar to research on social learning among adult participants in natural resources management, current research in the field of education claims that learning is situated in real-world practice, and occurs through recursive interactions between individual learners and their social and biophysical environment. In this article, we present an overview of the social and situated learning literatures from the fields of natural resources and education, and suggest ways in which educational programs for secondary and university students might be embedded in and contribute to efforts to enhance resilience of social–ecological systems at the local scale. We also describe three initiatives in which learning is situated in adaptive co-management and civic ecology practices: a university graduate experiential learning course in Sweden, a pre-college environmental education program in the USA, and a university undergraduate service-learning class in the USA. Through integrating the social learning and adaptive management literature with the literature focusing on youth learning situated in authentic practice, we hope to: (1) suggest commonalities among systems views of learning and social–ecological systems perspectives on resilience, and (2) expand our thinking about educational practice from being a means to convey content matter to becoming a critical component of social–ecological systems and resilience.

Key words

education; learning; natural resources management; resilience; situated learning; social learning

Copyright © 2009 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087