THESIS ABSTRACT 2005
Integrating Art and Environmental Education into the classroom
Public school teachers nationwide constantly climb the rugged path of inventing creative learning experiences that are layered with democratic, critical thinking skills. By integrating Environmental Education (EE) into the classroom, teachers have access to alternative subject matter that teaches us how to connect with our surrounding environment. EE helps us remember where we come from, how our actions affect our surroundings concerning pollution, waste management, and water quality. Lastly, EE teaches us how our economy is intertwined with our world’s need for finite resources.
Although integrating EE into the classroom is not a new concept, the idea of pairing it with other combined subjects such as Art and Math, and then teaching those concepts collaboratively in a classroom, is only in its beginning research stages. This thesis actively investigates how Art and EE can successfully be integrated into an elementary school classroom.
The study involved the active participation of a third grade class located within the city of Chicago during the months of April and May 2004. While interning for an arts integration non-profit organization, I used an active research methodology approach to study how students, during a 6-week lesson, were able to achieve positive learning experiences from an Art/EE/Math lesson. The lessons involved creating and implementing a curriculum where all three subjects were approached in a balanced way; students were asked to create art that reminded them of the environment using geometric triangles. This lesson was taught both before and after Illinois State standardized testing occurred.
Cynthia Davis received her BM in Music Therapy from the University of the Pacific in 1999, and her BFA in Art History from Concordia University in 2002. Before entering SAIC, Cynthia worked on visitor education programs for the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery in Montreal.
Thesis Advisor: Therese Quinn, Assistant Professor, Art Education; Associate Director, Center for Youth and Society, University of Illinois-Chicago
Thesis Reader: Giselle Mercier, Instructor, Art Education
Lisa Hochtritt,Assistant Professor, Art Education