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Place-based environmental education and environmental justice in Imperial Beach, California
Aitken, StuartPerez, Ramona L.
This study focuses on students in the Poseidon Academy of Marine Sciences and Engineering at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, located within San Diego County, California. This research asks how place-based environmental education (PBEE) helps young people in Imperial Beach make sense of local environmental issues. These issues are especially complex in this region, given that Imperial Beach is adjacent to the U.S./Mexico border. Transboundary sewage pollution from the Tijuana River in Mexico has impacted the residents of Imperial Beach for decades. Development and increased population in Tijuana under the influence of the 1994 NAFTA has resulted in aging infrastructure unable to keep up with the growing demand. Rising population has led to more informal housing development in the region’s hilly topography, much of which lacks connection to electricity or wastewater systems. Winters and springs bring flashy storms, which saturate the area and inundate the wastewater infrastructure shared between San Diego and Tijuana. As a result, water carrying treated and untreated sewage and trash is dumped off the coast from the U.S. side of the border at the mouth of the Tijuana River. Yet, despite ongoing contamination of their environment and limited access to clean green spaces, this research suggests that students in this diverse and low-income community value nature. In fact, the findings suggest that young people suffering environmental injustices can be empowered through PBEE and hands-on community science. Through interviews and surveys, students in this research demonstrate increasingly pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. This thesis provides a case study of an effective PBEE program in a park poor, low-income border community. In addition, it strives to elevate the voices of young people in the struggle for environmental justice.
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2020
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