A Project of the Environmental Education and Training Partnership
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UW-SP) has been collaborating with Intercambios, a binational, bicultural consulting group, to advance the cultural relevance of environmental education (EE). Cultural relevance, or inclusiveness, requires deep reflection about one's own values and behaviors and a long-term commitment to shifting organizational practices.
How does an organization do the internal work required to achieve its goals of being more inclusive? The "Building More Inclusive Organizations Initiative" was designed to capture the concerns and problem-solving processes of organizations as they worked toward becoming more inclusive and more culturally relevant in their communities. From 2007 through 2009, UW-SP and Intercambios created a Learning Community with Eco Education in St. Paul, MN; Partners in Environmental Cultural Connectedness (PECC) in Las Vegas, NV; and the Norfolk Environmental Commission (NEC) in Norfolk, VA, to begin the internal work needed to achieve inclusiveness objectives.
In summary, the patterns of what moved groups forward, what held them back, and the lessons they learned were very similar in all three organizations even though the team composition, geographic area, focus, and types and durations of programs were different. In each case, the organizations started out with limited direct interaction with the community. As the groups attempted to provide their services, they all concluded that their standard way of operating was an inappropriate model for achieving inclusiveness.
They realized that developing relationships and creating win-win approaches and projects with the communities were richer, more respectful and inclusive ways to operate than their traditional approaches. The evaluators and Learning Community felt that this was a paradigmatic shift that would continue to reshape the way these three groups interacted with their communities.
Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP)
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
College of Natural Resources
Stevens Point WI 54481