Lead environmental change in diverse, urban communities.
The Urban Environmental Education Master’s in Education program at Antioch University Seattle helps students take the next step in their professional careers to become leaders. Race, culture, equity, inclusion, and environmental leadership is advanced throughout the program. Theory is combined with practice as our faculty, students, community, and partners address environmental social justice issues and identify solutions together. Graduate classes are carried out in the city, on the streets, observing and investigating through the perspectives of those who live in our urban communities.
This dynamic intersection of environmental leadership and social justice drives the academic and the immersion in community practices of the MA in Education with Urban Environmental Education (UEE) program. We are looking for the new generation of educators and leaders who want to cultivate urban resilience and are needed to help create livable, resilient, and sustainable urban environments to ensure human and environmental well-being. Members of the UEE community, like yourself, will be responsible for pioneering change, leading progress, and instilling plans for a better future. Are you ready?
This degree is offered by AU Seattle.
Our Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Urban Environmental Education is designed for individuals committed to creating change as leaders and advocates who want to build capacity in communities to address environmental, social, and cultural issues. The Urban Environmental Education program’s coursework, practice, and reflection build the capacity of our graduates to integrate dynamic environmental leadership with social justice so that everyone plays a part in improving city environments.
Our ground-breaking master’s program addresses the theory and practice of urban environmental education, urban ecology, and community action and stewardship. In this emerging field of UEE, you will rethink traditional methods of place-based and experiential environmental education, develop new ways to connect people to their environment and community, and actively explore solutions to improve the sustainability and health of cities.
Embracing Diversity and Equity
Diversity, equity, and social justice are at the core of our academic program, student experience, and community relationships. We are committed to advancing race, culture, equity, social justice, urban resilience, and inclusion in the environmental education field.
59% of our graduate students and alumni, as well as 55% of our faculty, identify as people of color. 96% = our program graduation rate. Our graduates are in leadership roles within the region and across the nation. 98% of program alumni employed in UEE-related positions.
The UEE program is a 48-credit program (you may transfer up to 12 graduate-level credits) featuring academic courses and an embedded practicum experience. The program is run as a high-touch cohort model.
Courses run for 5 quarters (13 months) beginning in the Summer with an orientation and a three-week learning intensive. Classes in the Fall, Winter, and Spring run two days a week (Mondays and Fridays). Three days of each week, students work in paid practicum. Friday classes include a reflective seminar praxis in action that focuses on the application of theory to practice in community-based organizations.
Q1: Low Residency, Summer
3-Week Intensive: One Course Per Week, Monday – Friday (8 credits)
Q2-QA4: Fall, Winter, Spring
Classes: Monday and Friday
Paid Practicum, Tuesdays – Thursdays
Q5: Low Residency, Summer
3-Week Intensive: One Day Class Per Week, Mondays
Pathways from BA to MAEd
Still working on your undergraduate degree? Save time and complete your Bachelor’s degree while also getting a start on your Masters!
Antioch BA completion students Graduate Pathways: Graduate-level MAEd courses, up to 12 credits, successfully taken as an Antioch undergraduate student may be subsequently applied to the MAEd degree if the student is successfully admitted to the UEE program.
Pathway Partnerships: We are working with several Environmental Education organizations to build pathway partnerships, for example, with Youth Outside in Oakland, CA, where you will be able to take ‘Pathway” courses that can be transferred into the UEE program, the BA Completion program, or the Antioch University campus programs.
Inquire with the UEE about Pathway programs near you!
Core Knowledge Areas
All students complete four core courses:
- Diversity and Equity: Race, Culture, and Inclusion
- Curriculum Studies, Reflective Practice, and Community Engagement
- Environmental Leadership Strategies and Reform
- Participatory Action Research
We are committed to building a more inclusive and diverse environmental education field. UEE intentionally integrates issues of environmental and social justice into the narrative of every academic course and practicum experience taken by students. Graduate students are challenged to:
- Increase their cultural fluency through a growing responsiveness to value diversity and inclusion
- Apply cultural knowledge and the timely response to cultural needs
- Recognize the dynamics of equity, privilege, and power in environmental issues
- Expand the dominant paradigm of environmental education to include multiple racial, cultural and ethnic perspectives and experiences
Complex Urban Systems
This class is an introduction to the socio-ecological systems that now comprise urban ecology. Early studies of urban ecology were assessments of ‘native’ landscapes imbedded within cities; current efforts are studies about ecology of the city to better understand the integration of ecological and human systems within and around built settings. By way of examples of recent planning, design, and innovation we will consider the challenges facing urban residents including air and water quality, access to food, population growth and sprawl, environmental health, environmental justice, and climate change. Students will explore the expression of ecosystem services in cities, with a focus on human health and wellness and biophilia. Students will be exposed to the diverse methods of scientific investigation now being used to understand, explain and predict both social and environmental dynamics in urban environments. They will explore and understand the scientific and technological foundations of urban ecological systems and their interface with human communities and infrastructure.
Leadership and Reform
This is an overview of the wide landscape of educational change in society, present and past. Students gain a broad perspective on the critical issues of reform and innovation in order to evaluate systematically the merit and effect of change projects, and to take important and meaningful leadership roles in projects of interest and concern to them.
Multicultural Environmental Education
Multicultural Environmental Education (MCEE) is an approach to environmental learning and community level engagement that draws on four related fields of research, practice and action: multicultural education, critical pedagogy, environmental justice, and environmental education. The fundamental objective of Multicultural Environmental Education as a field, is to connect environmental learning to the lived cultural lives of students, families and communities, and by so doing, enhance the relevance of educational experience, support student achievement and activate the power of positive environmental and social change. As importantly, MCEE provides a means of awareness and understanding for educators of the power dynamics of the teacher-learner-school (or program) relationship with the goal of ‘democratizing’ learning and the educational environment through action.
Multicultural Environmental Leadership
This seminar takes a deep look into strategic approaches and practices to systems change in the urban environmental context. We will explore the personal and institutional characteristics of leadership applied to issues of systems change in education and community at the neighborhood scale, and through the lens of politics, economics, culture, race, and gender. We will utilize case studies, texts, experiential wellness practices such as mindfulness, and reflection on experiences gleaned from the previous seminar’s work.
Participatory Action Research Theory
The goal in this course is to prepare students to develop their minds as scholars by understanding the world of research and the integrated dynamics of urban systems; develop a research identity by identifying one’s research domain. Participants will be exposed to the elements of inquiry, process skills and practices, questioning and building evidence-based explanations through hands-on activities. Participants will work with academic literature to identify and digest concepts and theories that inform research on that problem; begin to develop a conceptual model that abstracts how the urban community may be functioning in that problem domain and points to a research question that can guide the next stage of the research.
Policy-making, Engagement, and Action in Environmental Education and Sustainability Education
Explores a variety of social, economic and environmental theories, perspectives, insights and innovations that can be implemented and practiced with special attention on regional, national, and international sustainability innovations. Examines social, political and scientific considerations inherent in environmental policy and regulation. Working directly in small global teams in partnership with students from an international partner university, students will have the unique opportunity to examine current environmental policy and social justice issues and develop policy solutions. Students will work virtually with your global team members, using a variety of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, including videoconferencing, student-produced videos and on-line discussions in closed forums, and debrief and discuss your findings and challenges in class each week with the UEE cohort. Each global team will focus on two environmental issues-one in both countries – researching the problem and ultimately proposing solutions that take into account the social justice and culturally appropriate dimensions of the problem.
Strategies for Community Engagement
This class provides exposure to real-world and real-time collective action approaches to community engagement. Each class begins with exposure to an organizer or activist from Seattle who is designing and delivering programs that intersect social justice and environmental issues. Students engage in discussion and reflective analysis of current programs among environmental groups, communities of color, and activists for equity and inclusion in the environmental movement, governmental and policy approaches to environmental justice, race and equity. Students are responsible for designing a program plan that engages a ‘community’ in learning about an environmental issue or in exploring the multi-dimensional nature of a place (meaning the social. political, economic and environmental factors) or exploring an issue studied in classes like the intersection of social justice and environmental education.
This course is focused on urban observation and investigation. Seattle is a city shaped by not only the cultural landscape and the natural setting, but also the intersection of the two. Human impact in the city has drastically altered the natural features, and how we engage with the natural world and systems of Seattle. These deliberate and planned actions continue today. As sustainability and social equity begin to shape the goals for our impact on urban nature, it is important that we understand the context in which these decisions are being made. This course will provide a foundation in urban ecology and the history of place.
Urbanizing Environmental Education
Students learn to observe, interpret and understand the factors that drive and shape urban places and that influence the urbanized culture, leading them to shape educational experiences that deepen urban ecological identity and stewardship. This class will offer readings, discussions and activities that reveal how people learn about the complexities of the urban environment – connecting people to place and their role in building healthy places in which to live and thrive. Students challenge and are encouraged to transform the current paradigms and pedagogies of environmental education by exploring the definitions and relationships that bring ‘urban’, ‘environment’ and ‘education’ together. Students define their personal and professional role as an urban environmental educator, considering the values, beliefs and assumptions that drive their aspirations, work and approaches to education.
Providing Real Community Experience: Students will be immersed in urban communities as part of our program’s paid 9-month Practicum experience – engaging communities in a culturally responsive manner.
Practica, a graduation requirement for students, are hands-on mentored experiences in nonprofits, agencies, organizations, schools, and community. They are designed to bring the theoretical elements of the academic coursework to life. We strive to make each practicum a paid experience.
Each student works with the Practicum Coordinator to find the right fit for their professional goals. The Practicum supports both the growth and development of the graduate students as well as the community’s capacity to develop meaningful and sustainable solutions to environmental issues including concerns of shelter, water and air quality, and safety and health.
The Practicum experience is paired with a four-quarter course in Participatory Action Research. Each student develops a Legacy Project (a thesis) in partnership with the practicum site that provides essential research to move projects and environmental solutions forward.
“The UEE Program provides a brave space to really lean in and make a difference by holding the promise of bringing front and center the stories of historically marginalized and disenfranchised people and their ways of knowing the earth. Having those stories and voices daylighted gives them the consideration that they deserve and that we need. The work of UEE expands the brain trust of ways of knowing the earth and respecting multiple voices.” Belinda Chin, Practicum Partner, Urban Food Systems, Seattle Parks and Recreation
- After-school All-stars
- Children and Nature Network
- City Fruit
- City of Seattle, Dept. of Neighborhoods, People’s Academy of Community Engagement
- Delridge Neighborhood Development Association
- E3 Washington
- Earth Service Corps Seattle-YMCA
- Friends of North Creek Forest
- Friends of Waterfront Seattle
- IslandWood, Urban School Programs
- King County – Waste Water Division
- Metropolitan Urban League of Greater Seattle, Project Mister
- Mount Baker to Snoqualmie US Forest Service
- National Parks – Pioneer Square, Klondike Goldrush Museum
- National Wildlife Federation
- Oxbow Farms
- Puget Sound Sage
- Seattle Boys and Girls Clubs of King County
- Seattle Parks and Recreation, Urban Food Systems
- Seattle Public Schools, Next Generation Science Standards
- Summit Sierra Charter School
- The Wilderness Society
- Techbridge Girls
- Tiny Trees
You will conclude your master’s degree by designing and implementing an original research project-based your Practicum. The purpose of the Legacy Project (thesis) is to develop a representation of your work within the partnership Practicum organization. The Legacy Project, developed in partnership with the Practicum partner, provides essential research to improve the sustainability and health of urban cities as well as communities. It supports the mission of the partner organization and will represent learning from your Practicum, research, and analysis. It will also include the artifacts you develop to further enhance the work of the practicum organization. The Legacy Project will be scaffolded across four quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer). The final document will be submitted during the culminating quarter.
Capstone or Portfolio
In addition to the Legacy Project, you will have the option of completing either a Portfolio or Capstone in relationship to the Program Outcomes: Leadership, Content Mastery in Urban Systems; Cultural Competency and Social Justice; Environmental Education Strategies; and Civic Engagement Strategies. The Portfolio will serve as an exhibition of learning as well as means to highlight professional skills and knowledge. The portfolio will organize student writing, research, projects, investigations, lesson plans, etc. in a way that provides access to evidence addressing each of the five UEE program outcomes. The Capstone is a comprehensive finished product that exhibits the educational knowledge, skill, and abilities gained during the program. The Capstone will highlight the outcomes of culturally responsive teaching or facilitation, the development of effective programming or learning strategies, thought leadership in the UEE field and mastery of content.
- Our students become leaders who are reflective, thoughtful, well-informed, analytic, scholarly, justice-oriented, and effective in the important work that they are doing.
Our program will instill the confidence and skills to help educators and practitioners become change agents in their own communities.
Graduates speak of the impact and value of the program:
Being a part of a diverse cohort was critical to my success. This was the first time in my life, over 16 years of education, that I was just a guy in my class…. not the only Black guy in my class. It was a beautiful thing to have the diversity of experiences and perspectives on each thing that we read, talked about, learned. And, to have instructors who reflected the diversity in the room. – Dre Anderson, Artist/ Actor/Freelance Spoken Word Artist. UEE Alumni 2016
The UEE program provided me with essential information and ways of thinking about the built environment, health, and the intersectionality of housing, transportation, planning, and environment. I wear many different hats working with Global to Local in Seattle. We develop programs to improve health and empower underserved communities. Health equity is the goal, we work with health disparities among women, people of color, those in poverty, immigrants, and refugees. – Niesha Fort, Community Engagement Manager, City of Tukwila. UEE Grad Alumni 2018
Change doesn’t happen by yourself… that’s what we learn through the cohort model and that extends into the work in communities. We are each other’s support. We build genuine friendships out of the cohort experience that lasts long after graduation. The cohort becomes a community of different perspectives and experiences that mirror the communities we work in. Everyone in the cohort has real-world experience which builds resilience and offers different ways of dealing with issues – just like every community has the resources within it to succeed. – Sylvia Hadnot, Facilitator, Sound Discipline; Artists/Healer/Community Organizer. UEE Alumni 2018
The UEE program intentionally centers on diverse experiences in the outdoors, not reinforcing the same white narrative that I’ve always been taught and have practiced myself as a white male teacher. The diversity in the UEE classroom made sure that we challenged the dominant narrative that drives most environmental education…that of finding wilderness and solitude in the outdoors. – Jake Leifheit, Youth Development/Cultural Specialist, Carson County Park (Nevada). UEE Alumni 2018
The UEE program was truly transformative. It made me reflect on my K-12 and my college experience and how in those more traditional academic settings, I didn’t have access to the stories that came to the UEE table allowing us ALL to speak truth to the fact that not everyone experiences Nature in the same way. Content and readings were powerful. It was supported by the diversity of the instructors. The diversity of students in the cohort and the approach of the program invited every student to bring their experiences of each person’s full humanity into the classroom. – Josh Parker, Racial Equity Advancement Specialist, Seattle Public Schools. UEE Alumni 2018
The UEE program exposed me to a variety of classes and people who introduced me to a number of things I didn’t even know I was interested in. The course structure and the cohort model made the difference to me. I was in a cohort with a majority of students who looked like me, an African American, which is something I had never experienced in academia before… it made a huge difference in what I learned and how I felt and what I gained on graduating. – Denaya Shorter, Community Engagement Program Director, Ecology Center (Berkley)/Writer. UEE Alumni 2018
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