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Youth Design Participation to Support Ecological Literacy: Reflections on Charrettes for an Outdoor Learning Laboratory

Nancy D. Rottle and Julie M. Johnson
Children, Youth and Environments
Vol. 17, No. 2, Pushing the Boundaries: Critical International Perspectives on Child and Youth Participation - Focus on the United States and Canada, and Latin America (2007), pp. 484-502
Published by: University of Cincinnati
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.17.2.0484
Page Count: 19
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Youth Design Participation to Support Ecological Literacy: Reflections on Charrettes for an Outdoor Learning Laboratory
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Abstract

Childhood experiences in nature have been found to hold myriad developmental values, yet opportunities for such experiences have diminished greatly. If children are to regain these values, firsthand experiences to learn from and care about and for such natural places are essential. Such experiences, and the resulting knowledge, caring and competence to act, serve as the foundation of what David Orr defines as “ecological literacy.” A meaningful context for such experiences and literacy building is that of formal education, where youth may undertake hands-on studies outdoors. These studies could occur in nearby open space, such as urban parks, provided the parks were appropriately designed. This paper describes youths' participation in design charrettes for a park's “outdoor learning laboratory,” reflects on the process and outcomes, and suggests potentials to support ecological literacy through both the charrette process and the designed learning environment.

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