Our work focuses on two main issues: Values and Ecosystems, and Environmental Learning. Issues of equity, inclusion, and justice form the foundation of our research in both areas.
Values and Ecosystems (Cultural Ecosystem Services, Relational Values, and other values)
This work focuses on the values that ecosystems provide to people (e.g., spiritual fulfillment, psychological well-being, identity). Our research in this area has two main goals: (1) to improve our understanding of how ecosystems benefit us in non-material ways, and (2) to facilitate incorporation of those benefits (particularly diverse benefits) into decision-making.
We are working on a number of projects in this area. They include follow-up to a recently published analysis (with snazzy video abstract!) of how cultural ecosystem services (CES) research connects to decision-making; an analysis of the nonmaterial benefits being discussed as part of Vermont’s renewable energy siting decisions; an exploration of how Cultural Impact Assessments address values important to Native Hawaiians (Svenja Telle's work); and multiple explorations into the relationship between ecosystem quality and cultural ecosystem services and relational values (Alison Adams' and Diana Hackenburg's work).
Environmental Learning and Education
In this work, we explore the nuance of how people learn about environmental issues, the nature of environmental concern, and how and why people are motivated to take action or not.
Our projects in this area include an experiment that explores how teaching volunteers about invasive species using different frames impacts their relationships with a place (Tatiana Gladkikh's work); how combining “cultural” and “environmental” education may impact learners’ experiences ; and the impacts that learning about Education for Sustainability, especially its integration of equity and "environmental" issues, has on teachers and their students (Jen Cirillo's work).
Combining the two research areas
These two topical research areas inform each other and interact in numerous ways. We are working on multiple projects that integrate them, and that foreground issues of equity and justice. These include:
A collaborative project that engages Vermont high school classes, the Vermont Folklife Center, and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife to collect diverse community members' stories about eastern coyotes. The stories (may!) shed light on Vermonters' wildlife values, and the student experience aims to help them gain transferable skills. (Josh Morse's work).
A collaborative project (funded by the EPA) focused on cyanobacterial blooms in St. Albans, Vermont, which explores how people from different backgrounds learn about cyanobacterial blooms and how the blooms impact ecosystem-related values. (Diana Hackenburg's work).
Learn more about our research on our Publications page.
Conducting interviews in Hawaiʻi.
The subject of the Coyote Stories project. Credit: @joshmettenphoto