Significant Life Experiences and Animal-Themed Education

  • Susan Caplow
  • Jennifer Thomsen
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Education and the Environment book series (PSEE)


Significant life experiences (SLE) literature posits that people have important experiences that lead them toward certain outcomes and support a cohesive life narrative. This SLE framework has been used to identify the development of environmental values and behaviors. Our research explores how SLE influences animal-themed educators in their choice to work in this field. We find that animal-themed educators share some unifying experiences with more general environmentalist populations, but that animal-related experiences may indeed represent a somewhat unique pathway to these positions. Our work contributes to a greater understanding of environmental educators’ decisions and how SLEs influence their roles and identities as educators. The findings support pedagogical design of environmental education programs that strengthen the linkages between information, emotional connections, pro-environmental behaviors, and career opportunities.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Social SciencesUniversity of MontevalloMontevalloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Society and ConservationUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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