Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Courtnie Wolfgang

Second Advisor

Dr. Lucy Spelman

Third Advisor

Dr. Sage Gerson


This thesis investigates the potential positive impact of fostering empathy and understanding for the natural world through art education. Through action research, this study examines various teaching approaches, such as incorporating scientific knowledge, employing literature to discuss ecological themes, and engaging in participatory storytelling activities to cultivate empathy among elementary school children. The objective of this thesis is to explore empathy as a potential pathway to encourage children to foster connections with the natural world and develop compassionate traits, attitudes, and behaviors towards nature as they grow. The findings of this study reveal that children exhibit high levels of enthusiasm and interest in discussing ecology and environmental issues, and they possess the capacity to develop nuanced thoughts and opinions about their relationship with the natural world. Additionally, it is observed that this process is more effective when children are provided with the opportunity and space to engage with these topics through age-appropriate activities that facilitate choice, agency, and creative expression.



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