Environmental education and the non-governmental organisation : a case study of the Wildlife Trusts
This thesis describes and discusses an investigation into the education provision of The Wildlife Trusts as a UK environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO), comprising 47 local Trusts. Prior to this study, The Wildlife Trusts organisation had not been examined as a whole partnership, as an NGO or as a provider of environmental education. Research questions focus upon what The Wildlife Trusts does as an organisation in terms of providing environmental education and the associated limits and potentials. Specific areas of investigation are The Wildlife Trusts' educational activities, its strengths and weaknesses and its educational culture. Such enquiry is valuable for The Wildlife Trusts itself, other NGOs, environmental educators and indeed all concerned with environmental education provision. The empirical work was conducted as a research-based case study and derives and builds upon research done for a commissioned review of The Wildlife Trusts' education provision. The thesis is influenced by Grounded Theory and draws predominantly on qualitative, but also quantitative techniques for data analysis and presentation. Interviews with Wildlife Trust personnel provided the primary source of data, supported by questionnaires, documentation obtained from Trusts and the author’s personal field notes. It is concluded that The Wildlife Trusts deliver numerous and diverse educational activities, yet neither as a unified NGO nor in sufficient partnership with other NGOs. The Wildlife Trusts is well placed to tailor activities effectively to local community audiences. It is recommended that The Wildlife Trusts overcome internally held negative attitudes towards 'education' through strengthening internal communications and developing a broader concept of 'people work'. It is argued that The Wildlife Trusts NGO has the potential to provide environmental education for all ages in both formal and informal education settings, in particular by providing outdoor and affective experiences on Trusts' reserves.