Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Jennifer D. Adams

Committee Members

Gillian U. Bayne

Deborah Shanley

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Methods | Outdoor Education | Secondary Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


experiential education; transformative activist stance, afforances of informal learning environments, (auto)ethnographic research, environmental education


This dissertation focuses on “Community Roots,” an instantiation of urban, garden-based environmental education that employs a “critical-transdisciplinary” design framework and pedagogies. The “crit-trans” construct, articulated by the Urban Environmental Studies Research Coven (Strong et. al., 2016) is offered as both a generative approach to liberatory (environmental) pedagogies with applications across the curriculum and as a form of resistance to neoliberal logics shaping educational (and other) settings. After situating Community Roots in its socio-environmental, institutional, historical and theoretical contexts, a detailed description of the course’s instantiation of crit-trans pedagogy is offered. Additionally, reflections of 14 youth and adult participants are analyzed, using the constructs of affordances (Adams and Gupta, 2017) and Transformative Activist Stance, or TAS (Stetsenko, 2017) to inform a discussion of participants’ engagement with the program’s learning opportunities, based on their individual experiences and identities. From the perspectives of affordances and TAS, each of the participants demonstrated a unique enactment and development of personal agency, and in some cases expressed a sense of “solidarity consciousness,” a relational mindset elucidated in context. Both agency and solidarity consciousness are presented as dispositions that promote positive social engagement around complex environmental and related social-justice issues, with the intention of bringing about a more life-affirming and equitable futurity.