Teaching Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders
For Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) alumnus CJ Goulding, Urban Environmental Education (UEE) is a way of life. “I chose my program because it gave me a chance to learn about the community and be a part of the community while getting a degree.” Goulding selected AUS specifically for our UEE program, which exists in partnership with IslandWood to empower students to become strategic educators prepared to work with urban youth and communities to build thriving, healthy, and sustainable places to live. Goulding is living proof that graduates from our UEE program can do exactly that.
Before starting our UEE program, Goulding worked for the National Parks Service as a youth programs analyst. In that job, he says, “I realized I was passionate about creating community” so he looked for a college environment that would help him take this passion to the next level. In this search, he discovered our UEE program, and he says “I saw that program as an incubator for those passions.”
As a UEE graduate student, Goulding explored “community mapping, power, community building” in a “learn by doing” environment so hands-on that he likens it to playing in a sandbox. One example is a community mapping exercise, in which UEE cohort members walked a city block and then wrote and drew the information they gleaned about the community from that walk. This activity was built upon in increasingly complex ways, and as a direct result, in his words, “I have a heightened sense of awareness, and I can pick up details about a community faster than before”. His cohort was “a collection of different people with different skillsets and backgrounds,” who brought different perspectives to these exercises, enriching everyone’s learning experience as a cohort and a team.
In his current position as Lead Organizer for the Natural Leaders Network and Legacy Camps, with Children & Nature Network, he uses his UEE education to teach and mentor up-and-coming young adults who work to create change in their communities. The knowledge he gained in our UEE program is so relevant to his work that he regularly uses its assigned reading and curriculum to teach his young leaders as a way to “pass it forward to others”.