After receiving the first round of feedback on my concentration from Jim and Jessica, I realized I would need to make some major edits. In my first proposal I made a bunch of generalizations and assumptions in order to make my point — I can now look back and realize that I was drawing on past experiences and trying to persuade the reader to see those experiences in the same way that I saw them. I also realized that one of the reasons writing a concentration on education and environmental studies is so hard is because the two fields take two very different approaches. Literature on environmental education tends to be very idealistic and hands-on, with the implication that by getting children into nature, everything will be solved. Contrarily, environmental studies encourages people to take a few steps back to get a more accurate perspective. It also tends to be a bit more careful in its assumptions and has (depending on what you’re reading) somewhat apocalyptic outlooks. Consequently, it was harder than I thought it would be to find a common ground on which I could write a concentration. After reading Jim’s article on place, I felt like I had a better idea of what would be possible for me to do.
I see place-based education as a subset of environmental education, but with more concrete and less idealistic methods. Whereas environmental education focuses on getting children into nature, place-based education does this as well but also takes into account social, community, and historical factors of an area. Indigenous cultures were very prominent in my initial proposal, but have almost disappeared in my new proposal. I haven’t lost interest, but I believe race and culture are tied in so closely with place-based education that I will end up studying these things anyway. This gives me a bit more time to figure out what indigenous cultures actually are — how they are defined, where they are, and what practices they follow.
Overall, my new concentration proposal (which can be found here) is much more open to future exploration. By no means do I know all the answers, but I do have a better sense of where I want to go. It’s completely different than before — I only used a few sentences from my last proposal but the rest is completely new. I think (or hope) this proposal is more objective and specific than the last, and that I will be able to make changes based on the steering committee’s advice but still maintain my general idea.