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Urban Garden

Advancing Cornell-Edinburgh Leadership in Sustainability Education

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Project coordinators:

Alex Kudryavtsev

Marianne Krasny

Beth Christie

Project description

Local communities can address the current environmental crisis through sustainability actions. For example, youth and other community members can engage in environmental policy-making and political activism, critiquing and influencing social norms, facilitating civic ecology education, and organizing stewardship projects.


However some communities and groups of people have been not only disproportionately affected by environmental issues, but also denied equal participation in environmental action. They include communities of color, low-income communities, rural and geographically isolated communities, native and tribal communities, as well as people marginalized due to their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, socioeconomic status, or disability.


Formal and nonformal environmental education programs have the potential to engage these communities in sustainability action, and thus contribute to community sustainability and social equity. But it is unclear what educational approaches and principles are most effective at involving frontline communities.


To explore this topic in the context of the U.S. and Scotland, the Cornell-Edinburgh team will review relevant literature, conduct narrative research with environmental educators in frontline communities, and interview environmental education professionals in the US and Scotland.


This research aims to create recommendations for the professional development of environmental educators who foster sustainability action in frontline communities.

This project is sponsored by:

Cornell–Edinburgh Global Strategic Collaboration Awards


Environmental education

Sustainability action

Frontline communities


  1. Knowledge Exchange Seminar (April 2023). Cornell and Edinburgh team exchanging ideas about the professional development of environmental educators.

  2. Narrative data collection and interviews in Scotland (June 2023).

  3. Narrative data collection and interviews in the U.S. (September 2023).

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Case studies

The data for our research comes from four case studies:

  1. YES Nature to Neighborhoods (California),

  2. Friends of Anacostia Park (Washington, DC),

  3. SCOREscotland (Scotland)

  4. Climate Sisters (Scotland)

Two case studies are recorded and released for professional development of any environmental educators.

Knowledge Exchange Seminar

Through this seminar (April 17, 2023), we exchanged our expertise related to sustainability education. We also discussed the development of online courses that support learning for sustainability and environmental action in communities and schools. This exchange will inform our research on sustainability education and action in frontline communities. Recorded presentations can be useful for professionals who design environmental and sustainability education programs.

Collaborators include:

  • Cornell University

  • University of Edinburgh

  • Learning for Sustainability Scotland

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