Participatory Development of Fotonovelas for Environmental Education and Community Empowerment

  • Anthony Michael MarzollaEmail author
  • A. Yau
  • H. Grossman
  • S. L. Dashiell


Water quality is a serious concern for both environmental and human health. Water quality throughout the world is threatened by human activity, such as unregulated runoff of harmful substances into the watersheds. In Santa Barbara, California, the Latino community, which makes up 40% of the population, was the target of an environmental education initiative that utilized fotonovelas, an image-based informational booklet for semi-literate populations, to increase awareness of water quality issues in the community. The fotonovela project was developed to incorporate educational research into environmental education in a participatory manner that involved multiple stakeholders including the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, Project Clean Water, and the local Latino community. The project, coordinated by a team from the Agua Pura program of the University of California Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program (UCCE), utilized critical pedagogy to determine the water quality concerns of the community and design the fotonovela’s educational message. Over 2,000 copies of the fotonovela were distributed throughout the Latino community. This chapter explores why educational research should be used in environmental education, specifically critical pedagogy which aims to empower underserved or oppressed constituents of society through the process of analyzing, naming, and characterizing issues in the form of dialogue. The fotonovela project demonstrates how environmental education initiatives guided by critical pedagogy framework and based in participatory development can be successful in changing behaviors that affect water quality in Santa Barbara.


Cultural Capital Environmental Education Critical Pedagogy Relevant Pedagogy Latino Community 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Michael Marzolla
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Yau
    • 2
  • H. Grossman
    • 3
  • S. L. Dashiell
    • 2
  1. 1.Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development ProgramUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Bren School of Environmental Science & ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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