The Communication of Values, Beliefs, and Norms in Live Animal Interpretive Experiences: A Comparative Case Study Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Caplow, Susan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Environment and Ecology
  • Environmental education (EE) is one of the most important tools available to help promote pro-environmental behavior. However, encouraging pro-environmental behavior requires more than knowledge dissemination alone; EE programs frequently contain messages intended to cultivate environmental values, beliefs, and behavioral norms because these can facilitate the uptake of pro-environmental behavior. In particular, Live Animal Interpretive Experiences (LAIEs) can help encourage these types of shifts because emotional connections with animals can expand one's sense of moral obligation to include caring for animals and the environment. My dissertation investigates three questions about LAIEs: 1) How does the institutional context frame messages on values, beliefs, and norms, and how do educators articulate them during LAIEs? 2) What values, beliefs, and norms do participants bring to the LAIE? 3) How do learners interpret LAIEs, and what are their post-program behavioral intentions? I compare LAIEs at three facilities with different institutional values, which is a novel contribution to the field that elucidates the relationship between institutional mission and the education program design, delivery, and interpretation. My cases include a research institution, an animal rescue, and an educational facility. I find that different types of organizations define and promote environmental values in critically different ways. Each organization follows a specialized VBN pathway that constructs meaning for the animal either as an individual, a representative of a species, or as an ambassador for an ecosystem. The scale at which the animal's value is constructed affects what kinds of threats and opportunities for individual action follow. Learners at all three sites share a generally pro-environmental profile, but learners differ across sites on some incoming values, beliefs, and norms. These differences suggest that learners may be choosing to attend different animal-themed experiences based on their personal values. Learners perceive key values-oriented messages from the institution fairly accurately, but their behavioral intentions post-program differ across sites. These differences are likely attributable to the relationship the individual has with the organization and the type of behavioral suggestions presented in the LAIEs. These findings can help educational facilities better design programs to meet institutional goals and to encourage learners to engage in pro-environmental behavior.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Jagger, Pamela
  • Campbell, Lisa
  • Dickinson, Elizabeth
  • White, Peter
  • Clark, Charlotte
  • Leslie, Paul
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2014
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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