Participatory Research for Resilience in EE Programs: Paying Attention to Ecological Identity, Place, and Community
The following is based on a qualitative study guided by Grounded Theory and Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies alongside two Hamilton-based notfor-profits, A Rocha and Good Shepherd Centres, examining A Rocha’s environmental education (EE) program for adults with disabilities, known as Operation Wild. In light of this study, I suggest that ecological identity has thus far been theorized as a solely individualistic concept. I outline a theory of relational ecological identity, which encourages the interdependent, intergenerational, and interactive components of ecological identity-building. I demonstrate that relational ecological identity contributes to the development of EE program resilience insofar as it focuses on future generations, the safe and inclusive reinhabitation of place, and a deeper interrelatedness to the more-than-human world. I discuss three major findings of ecological identity, place consciousness, and program resilience borrowing from existing EE literature, my original research, and by prioritizing the voices of the Operation Wild program community.