Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

Summer 2020

Exit Requirement

Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project

Department

Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Gareth Hopkins and James Dawson

Honors Program Director

Dr. Gavin Keulks

Abstract

Facilities such as zoos, aquariums, natural history museums, wildlife refuges, and more have been implementing environmental education programs with the intention of educating visitors on topics including conservation, natural history, and being better stewards of the environment. In zoos, programs like these have been implemented as early as the 1950s (Hancocks, 2001). However, research on the effective methods of behavior change for the environment is few and far between, and may not always be taken into account in the development of some zoo education programs. This project will attempt to bridge this gap through an analysis of current research on empathy and pro-environmental behavior change. I will develop an improved day camp curriculum for incoming fifth grade children to not only teach them about animals and the environment, but to inspire pro-environmental behavior change within the children, based upon the research I conduct. I will be focusing on the Oregon Zoo as my model, because I have been involved at the Oregon Zoo for over eight years, and know the grounds extensively. With this background knowledge of the individual animals living in the zoo, I will be able to intertwine classroom activities with grounds tours and other animal experiences. Interpreting living collections is what attracts, inspires, and enables people of all ages to act positively for conservation (Esson & Moss, 2010). The end result of this project will include a literature review, a new curriculum that could be 5 implemented at the Oregon Zoo, along with activity resources for camp, and a bonus activity that could be done by any Oregon Zoo visitor.

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