Building Capacity to Institutionalize Equity in Outdoor and Environmental Science Education

January 1st, 2024 - December 31st, 2028 | PROJECT

This project aims to advance racial equity in outdoor and environmental science education (OESE) by co-developing, implementing, and studying a replicable model for organizational capacity building and transformation. This project will increase the capacity of organizations to build more racially just and equitable work environments for Professionals of Color in OESE. It is a collaboration among a research and learning design team at a large public university (the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley), a community-based racial and environmental justice organization (Justice Outside), and a data and strategic consultancy firm (Informing Change). The project will support a team of leaders from five organizations to facilitate and guide organization-wide discussions related to racial equity. Through this work, the project will develop and formalize a Racial Equity Transformation Tool Kit to activate field-wide change. The Tool Kit will include three components: 1) Facilitator's Reflection Guide, 2) Foundations of Racial Equity Guide, and 3) Organization Systems Change Tools. The project includes collaborative and interconnected research and evaluation components to inform project activities, assess the effectiveness of the capacity-building model, and examine how race and power shape the everyday experiences of Professionals of Color and the organizational journey to advance systems change.

Drawing on a racialized conditions of systems change framework, research findings will build on theoretical and practical understandings of how racialized conditions shape the enactment of organizational transformation towards a more racially just and equitable work environment, namely for Professionals of Color.). The project will explore three research questions using a qualitative, case study approach: (RQ1) What are the conditions necessary in OESE organizations to move towards a racially equitable and just work environment for Professionals of Color, and what can transformative change look like?; (RQ2) What are meaningful indicators for Professionals of Color of a racially just and equitable work environment in OESE organizations?; and (RQ3) How do Professionals of Color make meaning of their experiences in the field-at-large, and what factors shape the experiences of Professionals of Color? The evaluation will utilize a mixed-methods design to explore the key design and implementation features that can employ critical levers or address barriers to position participants to authentically engage in organizational transformation. Collectively, the research and evaluation will lead to new understandings of how to conceptualize, enact, and assess systems change in OESE organizations, which can offer critical insights to STEM education more broadly. By bridging research and evaluation, the project will provide insight with respect to Racialized Conditions of Systems Change framework, exploring the interplay between the social, institutional, cultural, and individual factors and organizational conditions to identify key indicators of systems change.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Jedda Foreman, Principal Investigator, University of California-Berkeley
Craig Strang, Co-Principal Investigator, University of California-Berkeley
Valeria Romero, Co-Principal Investigator, University of California-Berkeley


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 2315277
Funding Amount: $4,723,028.00


Access and Inclusion: Ethnic | Racial
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | Park | Outdoor | Garden Programs