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Imaginative Ecological Education: Evolution of a Theory and Practice  

Gillian Judson

Imaginative Ecological Education (IEE) is an emerging cross-curricular and cross-grade pedagogical approach that seeks to address the neglect of emotional and imaginative engagement in Place-based learning. Its dual aims are to engage learners emotionally with the natural world and, ultimately, to transform how learners understand their relationship within the natural world. Understanding ecologically or the development of ecological understanding is the main goal; this represents a deep understanding of human connectedness within the living world. To achieve this goal, Imaginative Ecological Education acknowledges the central role of emotion in all learning and considers the value of emotional engagement not just for learning, but for supporting connections to nature that inspire environmental values and action. This pedagogical approach brings imagination from the sidelines to the centre of theory and practice, acknowledging that imagination is essential for engaging in learning and transforming human-nature relationships. Envisioning the possible, the not-yet, requires imagination. The central focus on emotional and imaginative engagement of learners within Place-focused teaching is what sets Imaginative Ecological Education apart from other approaches to outdoor learning. Imaginative Ecological Education theory and practice is evolving based on practitioner feedback and research.A Walking Curriculum: Evoking Wonder and Developing Sense of Place (K-12) is the most practical and accessible book on Imaginative Ecological Education. It contains a series of walking-focused activities that engage the principles of Imaginative Ecological Education in order to support emotional connections in learning. To date this approach has been most employed in the elementary school context. Research suggests that Imaginative Ecological Education practices support learners in forming emotional connections with and in the natural world.