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Land Education  

Austin R. Cruz

Land education from an Indigenous perspective can be understood as the learning of deep social, political, ethical, and spiritual relationships on and with land. By extension, the approach of land-as-pedagogy applies the understanding that the primary and ultimate teacher is the very land itself. Land education offers scholars and students a nuanced, culturally responsive, and responsible critique of the notion of place and field of place-based education, particularly with regard to historically minoritized students and communities such as Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Building from Indigenous scholarship and drawing connections between global examples of Indigenous relationships to land, the educational implications of land education and land-as-pedagogy compel everyone involved in enacting curricula and pedagogy to center such ideas into all learning irrespective of academic “subject” or discipline. By acknowledging where events, relationships, experiences, and understanding happen, communities and learners are afforded the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm the ontological and epistemological basis that all knowledge is contextualized and that contextualization starts with/in land. Examples of the positive educational outcomes of such curricular, pedagogical, administrative, and educational policy change around land include the affirmation and strengthening of Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, self-determination, and self-education, as well as the larger enculturation of non-Indigenous learners to more applied, reflexive, and explicit alliances and interdependencies with land and other communities. Repositioning land education and land-as-pedagogy from a marginal to central place within formal and informal education initiates the logical consequence and responsibility of such pedagogy: the complex, ethical, and historically informed process of Indigenous land repatriation.

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Critical Perspectives on Positive Youth Development and Environmental Education  

Marianne E. Krasny, Tania M. Schusler, Jesse Delia, Anne Katherine Armstrong, and Lilly Briggs

Positive youth development (PYD) assumes that, when given appropriate support, all youth have the capacity to develop the assets that enable them to succeed in life. Such assets include competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution to community, otherwise known as the six Cs of PYD. Environmental education (EE) programs that focus on youth action and empowerment offer the support needed for youth to develop these assets. Youth after-school, summer, and residential programs, often serving low-income and minoritized youth, increasingly are using environmental action and learning as a means to achieve PYD outcomes. Yet both PYD and EE have been criticized for not addressing the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation. In response, critical traditions in PYD and EE have emerged, in which youth reflect and act on structural barriers to human and environmental well-being in their communities. As youth and their mentors seek to address systemic inequities impacting themselves and their environment, they develop additional “Critical Positive Youth Development/Environmental Education” assets including critical reflection, efficacy, the ability to take collective action, and community-level empowerment.