Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nick Cutforth

Third Advisor

Kimberly Hartnett-Edwards

Fourth Advisor

Christy M. Moroye


Aesthetic education, Ecological education, Ecological habits of mind, Ecological mentoring, Ecological mindedness, Teacher education


This study investigates the formative experiences that nurture ecological habits of mind in youth. The study builds on the ecological habits of mind defined by Moroye and Ingman: caring, a sense of interconnectedness, and ecological integrity. A combination of methods was used in this study: in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing, and educational criticism and connoisseurship. Data collection included two interviews each with five teenagers, one interview each with the teens' mothers, photographing of artifacts, and a focus group with six additional teenagers. Observations and interpretations were filtered through ecological and aesthetic lenses.

Several key findings emerged. First, it is proposed that three qualities of ecological mindedness be added to those already defined: imagination, active engagement, and self-efficacy. Second, a review of the data revealed that the values of ecologically minded teens include relationship, commitment, and growth. Third, formative influences on the teenagers included experiences in nature (including place, play, and aesthetic experiences), experiences with animals, adult mentorship, community, peer and sibling influence, religion, and story. The aesthetic dimensions of learning (connections, risk-taking, imagination, sensory experiences, perceptivity, and active engagement) were all found to be present in the experiences of the teens; it is proposed that crafting nature-oriented learning experiences with these dimensions in mind helps to nurture ecological mindedness. This study has implications for environmental and ecological education as well as education in general, including implications for teacher education. The values and experiences of the teens help inform the recommendations that educators provide opportunities for natural aesthetic experiences as well as ecological mentoring.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Shannon Burgert


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

227 p.


Education, Environmental education, Aesthetics