Public Education in Invasive Species Management
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The mid-term report assessed three environmental education frameworks, exploring how they function and the results of their application to invasive species management or general environmental issues. These frameworks are the public-based learning method, the social learning framework and the identity-based environmental education model. The key idea of the public-based learning method, which is described in Melard’s 2015 research, is that different public viewpoints are crucial for environmental controversies such as invasive species management because they can provide new insights for managers; integrating these viewpoints into management strategies can help solve the problems of these environmental issues. Researchers noted that based on this method, environmental managers should assess various public points of view and the different dimensions that these viewpoints create, then integrate them into their decision making process. The second framework is the social learning framework addressed in Krasny and Lee’s study. It emphasizes collaborative learning communities where information is exchanged and innovations are created through discussion among individuals who have different knowledge and experience. This collaborative learning can be in the form of a workshop where the public can be actively engaged. The study found that through a collective learning process, communities can enhance their educational practices in an effective way. The identity-based environmental education model addressed in McGuire’s 2015 study seeks to encourage less environmentally dangerous behaviors. The model’s final goal is to help the public generate environmental self-identities through public education. Based on one engagement strategy, simply sharing concrete environmental knowledge with students will not change their beliefs and behaviors toward the environment issues. The findings suggest that educators should connect concrete environmental knowledge with students’ own experience regarding the local environment. Environmental education approaches include the focus group methodology used in Howle’s study. Basically, it is field-based focus group interview to obtain qualitative data about public perceptions and motivations. It was used to study public opinions about the effectiveness of control methods for an invasive species in South Carolina. This method proved to be effective and accepted by the public. A second approach is integrating mobile technology into field-based environmental education used in the Anderson study. This approach enabled participants to take notes about their ecological experiences and ask questions, using available apps on electronic devices while they are in the field. Compared to traditional approach, without the implementation of mobile technology, this approach enables the public to better understand environmental concepts. It also assesses some practical approaches and public engagement strategies concerning invasive species management, such as focus groups, invasive species workshops, and urban ecology programs. Furthermore, this report provides overall ideas of how to educate the public about invasive species and how to enhance their environmental stewardship through engaging learning process.