The Impact of Environmental Education on Sense of Place Among Urban Youth
Research suggests that an ecologically informed sense of place, including strong place attachment and ecological place meaning, contributes to pro-environmental behaviors. Yet it is unclear whether an intervention such as environmental education can intentionally influence sense of place, especially in cities. To investigate the impact of urban environmental education programs on sense of place, we used pre/post surveys of youth in 5-week environmental and non-environmental summer youth programs in the Bronx, New York City, in 2010. Results show that urban environmental education programs—which engaged urban high school students in environmental stewardship, recreation, environmental skills development, and environmental monitoring in the Bronx—were successful in nurturing ecological place meaning, but did not strengthen students’ place attachment. No significant changes in place attachment or place meaning were observed after non-environmental, control programs.