|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation explores possibilities for environmental citizenship for girls. When environmental education emerged as a field of study in the 1970s, it articulated an environmentalism for young people based in the language of citizenship. However, environmental justice and feminist environmental education researchers have pointed out that this citizenship was homogenized, with little consideration given to gender, race, class, and sexuality, and that this citizenship was based on obedience to normative environmental prescriptions rather than on democracy and justice. At the same time, girls are often excluded from the vocabularies of citizenship because of their age, gender, and other intersecting factors, and their marginalization has been exacerbated by the myriad of programs for girls which, since the 1990s, have been empowering them with the message that they must change themselves rather than struggle for their social rights. This dissertation argues for a feminist project of environmental citizenship that politicizes gender and the intersecting categories of difference in girls lives, and also taps into environmental educations democratic potential to argue that girls need to be exposed to possibilities of social transformation and justice.
To bring gender and girls into environmental education, this dissertation rests on evidence gathered in field observations, interviews, and focus groups conducted with three environmental education programs for girls: the Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (Toronto), Green Girls (New York City), and ECO Girls (Ann Arbor), to demonstrate that gender, race, and class matter in girls access to the sciences, the outdoors, and environmental programming. Using a feminist environmental justice lens, it assesses each of the programs different models of ecological citizenship, arguing that an intersectional perspective and an openness to analyzing power, privilege, and difference generate more robust environmentalisms and ecological citizenships for girls. Specifically, the research considers that individual approaches to empowerment will not achieve the kinds of social change that are necessary for gender equality and environmental justice, and that forms of public engagement that are rooted primarily in service, leadership, and civic-mindedness as opposed to activism, advocacy, and collective mobilization are alone not enough to expose girls to the possibilities of full citizenship, social transformation, and democratic engagement.||