Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Advisor(s)

Josh Farley, PhD.

Robert Manning, PhD.

Dan Baker, PhD.

Abstract

Many experiential education programs maintain that their respective curriculums cause an increase in environmental ethics and action from graduates. However, a number of researchers suggest that programs do not produce genuine Responsible Environmental Behavior (REB) in students. Other researchers and educators have suggested that combining key elements from the two major models of experiential education – outdoor adventure education and environmental education – may produce the desired increase in REB. Based on research by Marcinkowski (2001), an increase in students’ internal locus of control coupled with an holistic approach to teaching ecological behavior are most likely to achieve this increase. However, there is currently little evidence that outdoor educators have implemented this hybrid curriculum or that researchers have studied the suggested curriculum in an actual field environment.

Given my interest in conducting both applied projects and research, I partnered with the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to conduct a hybrid experiential education program in August 2016. Called the Ecological Leadership Program (ELP), this action research initiative featured an intensive project management component to plan, resource, and implement the program, as well as an effort to study the effects of the hybrid environmental adventure education (EAE) curriculum on students’ Responsible Environmental Behavior. The following thesis includes a narrative of the ELP project implementation process and research analysis of the EAE curriculum’s effectiveness. Ultimately, research findings indicate that a Western-style experiential education model can transfer to non-Western countries. Although the full effectiveness of the EAE model in producing significant and long-term REB was inconclusive, the study was able to identify four main curriculum areas that current and future experiential education programs may apply to programming to potentially achieve an increase in students’ Responsible Environmental Behavior.