|Wednesday, June 24|
Growing Up in Cities in the early 21st Century
* Angela Kreutz, Deakin University, Australia
Beau Beza, Deakin University, Australia
As we celebrate 50 years of research in the field of people-environment studies, it is timely to recall the seminal work of urban planner, Kevin Lynch. As a researcher at the forefront of people-environment relations, he published “Growing Up in Cities” (GUIC) in 1977 – a UNESCO funded project that investigated adolescent use and perceptions of their urban environment in four countries: Argentina, Australia, Mexico, and Poland. Twenty-five years later, in light of increasing urbanisation, Louise Chawla revisited the original study, expanding upon the original sites in Melbourne and Warsaw, to include Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Johannesburg, Northampton (England), Trondheim (Norway) and Oakland (California). The UNESCO funded project led to the publication of “Growing Up in an Urbanising World” in 2002; emphasising active participation of children and youth in planning and urban design. The continual expansion of our cities infers that young people are growing up in a changing urban environment. In 2020, we plan to revisit the GUIC projects and seek to honour the spirit of the two original studies, developing a wider research context as it relates to young people and contemporary urban life. Following the research trajectories of Lynch and Chawla, the 2020 project continues to advocate for empowering youth through meaningful participation, emphasising and implementing inclusive cross-site youth engagement and evaluation. It supersedes the original studies focusing on contemporary issues around urbanisation, globalisation, digital practice and global warming. Interdisciplinary teams and their respective approaches accommodate site specific considerations and develop methodologies that take advantage of the opportunities and availability of contemporary technologies. This paper seeks to present the beginnings of a third international collaborative GUIC project, presenting possible theory and associated methods that examine young people’s use and perceived value of contemporary urban space globally.
Stochastic Environmental Properties and Early Child Development
* Gary Evans, Cornell University, United States
Stacey Doan, Claremont McKenna College, United States
Type of Proposal: Reflective Review Title: Stochastic Environmental Properties and Early Child Development Summary: Environment and behavior scholars focus on the intensity or level of environmental experience. Herein we discuss how stochastic properties of early experiences influence child development, particularly during infancy and toddlerhood. The developing human requires progressively more complex, reciprocal interactions between child and environment. Accurate prediction undergirds comprehension of sequential contingencies as well as the development of self-efficacy or mastery. Planning requires accurate prediction and understanding of past and future. The acquisition of self-regulatory skills enables children to manage emotions and behavior. Routines and structure provide a platform for circadian rhythms and adequate sleep and facilitate social support. Chaos, instability, and lack of routines and structure in daily life interfere with the acquisition of each of these critical developmental tasks. Furthermore, unpredictability and chaotic surroundings indirectly influence the developing child vis a vis the caregiver by interfering with their ability to provide sensitive, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate care to the child. Our analysis includes both social (parenting behaviors, family routines, change in family structure) and physical (residential stability, daycare stability, noise, crowding, and chaos) elements of unpredictability and instability in early environments. We also comment on the role of design and planning in moderating chaos and instability effects during early childhood. Keywords: stochastic properties of environment, children, chaos and instability
Connecting with Nature, Acknowledging Environmental Loss, and Finding Hope
* Louise Chawla, University of Colorado, United States
This review brings together two literatures that have developed separately, with the argument that each contains important results that are relevant to the other. One research area examines children’s connection with nature, which emphasizes positive experiences. The other investigates young people’s fears, worries, coping strategies and capacity for hope as the global environment changes. Young people who express alarm and distress over climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental disruptions echo a number of feelings that define nature connection, including an understanding of human-nature interdependence, oneness with nature, a sense of kinship with other living things, concern for the natural world, and a sense of responsibility to protect it. This presentation shares statements from quantitative scales and qualitative interviews and narratives by young people, drawn from both research areas, to show overlapping emotions and understandings of human-nature relationships. It argues that the concept of nature connection will be developed more accurately if it includes the complexity of positive and painful sides. The presentation then compares recommendations for practice from researchers and educators: on one side, to increase nature connection; and on the other side, to reduce despair and a sense of helplessness in the face of environmental challenges, while building hope. Immersive experiences in nature are recommended for both purposes, with implications for the greening of schools and neighborhoods. Both purposes are also served by providing young people with collective experiences of ecological restoration and caring for wildlife and natural habitats, with implications for participatory environmental design and management for biodiversity. Research on environmental coping also indicates that it is important to enable young people to freely discuss their environmental emotions, with implications for the design of participatory projects. The presentation closes with questions that can guide more integration of research on environmental connection and environmental coping in the future.
Play-based learning using gardens in early childcare centers: The importance of location, usability, and incorporation in childrens daily routines
* Nicole Yantzi, Laurentian University, Canada
Yovita Gwekwerere, Laurentian University, Canada
Researchers recognize that children’s present reality impacts their health and well-being, and at the same time understand that health and environmental behaviors established in childhood set a pattern for adulthood. The early childhood learning policy in Ontario requires that the environment be part of play-based inquiry. While this policy provides general direction, it does not provide details for implementation.The purpose of this research was to determine if gardening can be a tool to enhance children’s play-based learning in their natural environment. The project is a collaboration involving Laurentian University researchers and the Laurentian Child and Family Center (LCFC). Participants included pre-school (PS) and school-aged children (SC) enrolled at LCFC from 2015-2017, and their educators. During this time period, children had access to two different types of gardens in different locations. Data were collected through participant observation of children’s activities, and focus groups with children, early childhood educators and daycare administrators. Findings show that the location and positioning of gardens made a significant difference in the frequency of use and the integration in daily play. PS children showed a greater level of engagement with the garden compared to the SC children. The early childhood educators reported that gardening provided opportunities for learning through play, and helped them to appreciate what children knew and could do. The gardens provided learning opportunities and the development of all the skills needed to become successful in school, such as; social skills, using their senses, self-guided learning, environmental stewardship, curiosity, creativity, problem solving, observation, and numeracy. This research shows how gardening can be incorporated into children’s play areas and daily routines as a way of addressing the Ontario Ministry of Education’s policy direction of including the environment in play-based learning.