Field Stations Speaker Series, 2021

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Education Panel & Discussion

August 25, 2021

Interdisciplinary, environmental education oriented toward the design and planning professions started in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, when educators sought to combine the visions of disparate disciplines such as architecture, ecology, urban planning and engineering to solve pressing social problems. In universities, interdisciplinary programs offered a framework to make higher education more relevant to everyday life. Although by the 1990s and early 2000s interdisciplinary frameworks in environmental education had become mainstream, educators continue to hone the purpose, ethics and collaborative frameworks for interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary environmental education. One framework for environmental education has been the place-based learning approach, which proposes nature and project-based learning as a starting point for building skills, community responsibility and an ethical standpoint toward the world. This panel discusses the purpose and orientation of environmental education in the early 21st century using models and discussion from educators in environmental studies, planning, geography, social sciences and other interdisciplinary fields.


  • Ted Jojola, Director, Indigenous Design and Planning Institute, University of New Mexico
  • Melinda Laituri, Professor, Geography, Colorado State University
  • David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies Emeritus, Oberlin College
  • Moderator: Kevin Bone, Program Director, Wright-Ingraham Institute Field Stations program


Dr. Ted Jojola has a distinguished career as an educator and practitioner in urban and regional planning and other related subjects, with particular specialty in indigenous planning. Since 1980, he has taught at the University of New Mexico. He served as director of Native American Studies from 1980 to 1996, acting director of the Community and Regional Planning Program in 1995-96 and director in 2004-05. In 2010, he obtained funding for iArchitecture, an interdisciplinary course on contemporary indigenous architecture at UNM. He has an ongoing cultural consultancy with the Native American Cultural Center, Northern Arizona State University, Studio Ma Architects. Dr. Jojola prepared the Tribal Planning Student Internships & Planning Information Handbook for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department in 2009. He conducted community workshops on indigenous planning for the US Department of Justice and regional workshops on tribal community planning, Policy Research Center, National Congress of American Indians in 2008. He is an ongoing participant in the Indigenous Planning Exchange, US Department of Education since 2007. Dr. Jojola participated in the Visioning 21st Century Tribal Community Planning, Tribal Planning Summit, Arizona State University in 2007. He has also been involved since 2007 with the New Mexico Indian Education Atlas. Dr. Jojola has published in many books and periodicals, and has prepared technical and commissioned research reports. Recently, he prepared Planning in Indian Country: Regional Conversations, a report of findings for eight regional tribal summits, 2007-2009 for the National Congress of American Indians (released 2011). He wrote the Legacy of the Pueblo Revolt and the Tiquex Province in an anthology of Po`pay and the Pueblo Revolt, edited by Joe Sando, Clear Light Book Publishers in 2005. He has also received many recognition awards for the merits of his work, including the Richard W. Etulain Honorary Lectureship in 2012 and distinguished professorship in 2011.

Dr. Melinda Laituri is a professor emeritus of geography in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. She is the Founding Director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU that provides support for geospatial research and teaching across the university. She is a Fulbright Scholar having taught GIS at the University of Botswana and conducted research in the Center for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge, and Innovation on participatory mapping and conservation planning. Professor Laituri is a Rachel Carson Fellow for Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximillian University, Munich. Laituri is a founding member of the Center for Environmental Justice. She is a visiting scientist at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. Professor Laituri taught at CSU’s Mountain Campus – an in-residence, four-week, field-based, experiential learning course providing instruction on watershed science and field-data collection tools. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona in Geography and held a three-year tenure track position at University of Auckland, New Zealand before joining Colorado State University.

David W. Orr is Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus and senior advisor to the president of Oberlin College. He is a founding editor of the journal Solutions, and founder of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. Orr is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward (Yale, 2016) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and coeditor of three others. He has authored over 200 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications. In the past 25 years, he has served as a board member or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Currently he is a trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and the Children and Nature Network. He has been awarded eight honorary degrees and a dozen other awards including a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and a Visionary Leadership Award from Second Nature. Orr is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. While at Oberlin, he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy and was instrumental in funding the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

Kevin Bone was a professor of architecture at the Cooper Union from 1985 through 2018, teaching design, building technology and sustainability. During his time at Cooper he worked to integrate issues of environment into the curriculum and was the founding director of the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design. Bone has published on architecture, infrastructure, energy and landscape. Those publications include; Lesson’s From Modernism, Environmental Design Considerations in Architecture, 1925-1970; The New York Waterfront, Evolution of the Port and Harbor; and Water-Works, the Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply. Bone is also a principal at Bone/Levine Architects. The practice works in architectural design, technical consulting and historic preservation. Bone is now working with the Wright-Ingraham Institute to develop small scale, experimental, educational initiatives.

Additional Resources

For more information relating to this panel, please refer to these additional resources.

Melinda Laituri

Colorado Headwaters and Sustainability in the Anthropocene
The Hydrosocial Cycle in Rapidly Urbanizing Watersheds

David Orr

The (Missing) Politics in Environmental and Sustainability Education
Education as if People and Planet Matter
Democracy in a Hotter Time

Wright-Ingraham Institute Overview and Introduction to StudyTank

Preceding the Speaker Series event, Lea Rekow, Executive Director, gives an introductory overview of the Wright-Ingraham Institute and its programming. Dr. Catherine Ingraham, President of the WII Board, speaks about the history of the Institute and introduces the emerging StudyTank research program under her directorship.

Dr. Catherine Ingraham, President of the Board of the Wright-Ingraham Institute, is a Full Professor in the Graduate Program of Architecture at Pratt Institute, a program which she chaired from 1999-2005. She also has been a Visiting Faculty member at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, since 2016. Ingraham earned her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and was an editor, with Michael Hays and Alicia Kennedy, of the critical journal Assemblage. Ingraham has lectured at multiple national and internationals schools of architecture and published widely in journals and book collections. Her books include Architecture, Animal, Human (Routledge Press, London 2006), Architecture and The Burdens of Linearity (Yale University Press, New Haven 1998).  She is currently working on two books, Architecture, Property and the Pursuit of Happiness and Worlds Between. Ingraham has won numerous fellowships and awards, including the Canadian Center for Architecture Fellowship, Graham Foundation grants, and MacDowell residencies.

Dr. Lea Rekow is Executive Director of the Wright-Ingraham Institute. She is also co-lead of Bifrost, an international humanities project promoting climate change awareness and founded Green My Favela, a food security project based in the favelas of Brazil. Lea was formerly special envoy for Open & Agile Smart Cities, an advisor to Urban IxD, cultural advisor to the Australian Consulate in New York, adjunct professor at Pratt Institute and at FGCU, a sustainability consultant for GlobalCAD, executive director and lead curator for CCA Santa Fe and Gigantic ArtSpace, and media director of the Center for Peace and Human Security. She has sat on numerous advisory panels, including for the LMCC, Calarts, and Amnesty International, and is a member of the IAG and NYWIFT. Her writing and research focus on transdisciplinary practices for reclaiming degraded space in areas where people are living under extreme socio-environmental stress. She has worked on oral histories with ethnic minorities in conflict zones in Burma, with Indigenous groups in the Four Corners area, and with informal communities to help establish the largest organic urban food garden in Latin America.