Sustainability and Museum Education: What Future are we Educating for?

By Rosemary Logan and Glenn C. Sutter.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Museums are ideal venues for engaging in sustainability education (SE). Collections can allow people to study and interpret connections between the past, present and future. Exhibits can give visitors a chance to reflect on situated problems and how their actions might make them worse or better. Public programs can deepen these connections and engage the community around issues of concern. And volunteer or service-learning opportunities can give people a chance to apply what they have learned. To encourage museums to explore this potential and become more inclusive, this paper reviews the concept of sustainability, articulates an SE philosophy for museums, and provides examples that show how aspects of this philosophy are already being applied. Bioregional and place-based education serves as our framework, supported by the principles and practices of nature as teacher, communities of practice, and civic engagement. We assume that in concert these four components can create relationships and mindsets that lead to a more sustainable future. For each component, the aim is to foster a culture of sustainability through effective teaching and learning strategies.

Keywords: Education for Sustainability, Sustainability Education, Education for Sustainable Development, Relevancy and Museums, Participatory Museums, Sustainability and Museums, Ecomuseums

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.11-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1023.404KB).

Rosemary Logan

Museum Education Consultant, Education, Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Rosemary Logan is currently a PhD student in Education for Sustainability at Prescott College. While her dissertation research is focused on expeditionary learning and sustainability education her current professional work includes integrating sustainability into the Museum of Northern Arizona’s long-term exhibit design plan and public programs. Rosemary’s professional background includes working within museum education, environmental education, curriculum development, and leading field-based educational programming. She has also conducted field research in ethnobotany and sustainable agriculture and is most recently fascinated by the connections between sustainability and biocultural diversity. Her personal interests include backpacking, botanizing, community-building, gardening and exploring the natural world with her two-year-old daughter.

Dr. Glenn C. Sutter

Curator of Human Ecology, Research and Collections, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, SK, Canada

Dr. Glenn Sutter lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he is Curator of Human Ecology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. He holds graduate degrees in Biology from the University of Manitoba and the University of Regina, and he is a Fellow of the international Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) program, Cohort 16. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Regina (Biology) and the University of Saskatchewan (Educational Foundations). As a researcher and teacher, he is interested in prairie conservation issues, the resilience of complex systems, and education for sustainable development.

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