Education and Interpretation on Public Lands: Lessons from Research and New Directions




interpretation, environmental education, comparative research, adaptation management, methods


Decades of research confirm that interpretation and environmental education on public lands can accomplish a wide variety of positive outcomes for participants, ranging from personal learning and growth to stewardship behaviors both onand off-site. This research note offers a brief summary of the state-of-the-field of interpretation and environmental education research as applied to public lands. It highlights the general state of knowledge and identifies opportunities for researchers to further enhance our understanding about education on public lands to maximize benefits for visitors and managers alike. In particular, we emphasize the value of large-scale comparative studies as well as collaborative approaches to adaptive management, in which researchers support active experimentation through iterative data collection and analysis within a learning network of multiple program providers. This latter approach promotes evidenced-based learning within a larger community practice in which participants can benefit from the diverse knowledge, experiences, and data that each brings into the network.

Author Biographies

Marc J Stern, Virginia Tech

Professor, Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Robert B. Powell, Clemson University

Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, SC

B. Troy Frensley, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Department of Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington, NC