|Ph.D Student||Alkaher Iris|
|Subject||Socio-Environmental Projects to Promote Environmental|
Involvement in a Multicultural Society
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Tali Tal|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The study focused on environmental education (EE) in a multicultural society and was based on the education for sustainability (EfS) approach that emphasizes the interactions between society, economy and environment.
The study explored and characterized two socio-environmental projects that were directed by two leading environmental organizations in Israel. Both projects were based on collaboration between schools, environmental organizations and local communities.
The study followed-up two Arab-Jewish socio-environmental projects that brought together the students into joint meetings. The projects focused on broad learning about local socio-environmental conflicts and solutions.
The research aimed at characterizing the Arab-Jewish socio-environmental projects; describing the multicultural interactions between the students; and identifying the participants' socio-environmental views, attitudes and behavior intentions. The research participants included 275 eighth grade students from two Arab- and two Jewish-schools, four principals, seven teachers and five environmental organizations' facilitators.
The interpretive research employed the following instruments: focused observations of the projects' meetings; pre-post Likert-type and open-ended questionnaires for the students; pre-post personal interviews with the adult participants; and pre-post focus groups with the students. The data was analyzed mainly according to qualitative approaches. The Likert-type questionnaire was statistically analyzed.
The research findings reflect the great potential of projects that implement EfS on learners' environmental knowledge, awareness and behavior, indicate the unique potential of the projects in bridging between formal and informal EE, and connecting between culturally diverse students that usually do not discuss socio-environmental issues.
The projects contributed to the students' development of environmental literacy by encouraging them to think critically about local complex environmental conflicts of their nearby surrounding.
All the participants perceived the projects as means to advance environmental and socio-cultural goals. This view expresses the wide understanding of man-environment interactions according to EfS.
The findings pointed out cultural differences between the Arab and Jewish students regarding their environmental views that probably express different needs of each community. Moreover, the educational programs' goals and strategies were partially fitted to the multicultural setting. The projects enabled varied but limited multicultural interactions, according to language and cultural barriers.
The projects have contributed to developing a responsible environmental behavior by raising students' knowledge about and awareness to the local environment. Nevertheless, the students' behavior intentions have not been significantly improved.
This study highlights the need to further understand socio-cultural aspects in learning science. It suggests introducing multicultural issues in teacher education in Israel that could better fit the diverse community of the Israeli learners.