Sustainability Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 441–453 | Cite as

Framing for resilience through social learning: impacts of environmental stewardship on youth in post-disturbance communities

  • Justin G. SmithEmail author
  • Bryce DuBois
  • Marianne E. Krasny
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience


Civic ecology practices, such as community gardening and citizen-led urban reforestation and wetland restoration, provide opportunities for social learning. Because social learning is an important component of community resilience, we suggest that civic ecology practices can be a strategy for responding to and mitigating environmental disturbances in an era threatened by climate change. Despite the links between civic ecology, social learning and community resilience, empirical research that systematically considers these connections is limited. This study addresses this gap by introducing ‘frames’ as an approach to considering social learning outcomes and process. More specifically, we provide a model for investigating the role civic ecology education programs play in shaping youths’ capacity to understand and respond to environmental disturbance. We used participant observation and cognitive mapping to assess social learning among three youth restoration programs working in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in New York, NY, and after the 2013 floods in Boulder, CO. In all three programs, youth demonstrated social learning and cognitive change by shifting their emphasis from the impacts of disturbance towards a solutions-based framing that focused on community, action, and mitigation. However, the depth of these changes was not uniform across all programs, suggesting that variations in program length, community context, social identity, and opportunities for self-defined action may shape overall impacts of programs and youth capacity for future action.


Civic ecology Social learning Framing Community resilience Environmental education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin G. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bryce DuBois
    • 2
  • Marianne E. Krasny
    • 3
  1. 1.WSU Extension – Mason County, Community and Economic Development UnitWashington State UniversitySheltonUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate Center, CUNY, Civic Ecology Lab, Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Civic Ecology Lab, Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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