Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2018 Bridget Scott. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Biology Department

First Advisor

Philip Kudish

Second Advisor

Elaine Allard


As the impacts of climate change become more visible while environmental protection policies loosen and educational policies shift, there is a need for increased meaning-making opportunities for students in kindergarten through high school in which they can connect personally relevant environmental experiences to a lifelong care for the environment. In many cases, informal education settings, such as museums, gardens, and environmental education centers, offer students self-motivated, experiential-based learning opportunities that generate greater awareness and feeling of responsibility for environmental issues. Under the framework of the interest and identity inductive model and situated cognition theory, informal settings are uniquely positioned to inspire an ecological identity by providing opportunities to develop an interest through contextualized, applied environmental learning. The purpose of this review is to consolidate the key points of already established literature, to explore the importance of how context shapes a learning experience and identity development through situated cognition theory, and to explain why opportunities for informal education are important to leverage as spaces for meaning-making in this current political time.