Our Mission

Teaching Practicum

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College is dedicated to:

  1. Providing a natural sanctuary for northern Indiana’s plants and animals
  2. Providing environmental education for people of all ages
  3. Providing a setting for re-creating opportunities that benefit the human body and spirit while not exploiting the land or excessively disturbing its ecosystems

Education is, by nature, interdisciplinary and integrates many fields

Environmental education adds the natural sciences by incorporating ecology, biology, chemistry, and physical/outdoor education into curricula.  Throughout Merry Lea’s Graduate Program curriculum, ecological learning and pedagogical skills are integrated.

A foundation of your experience is exploring and learning about our outdoor classroom and ecosystem laboratory/nature preserve that contains a diverse group of Indiana ecosystems that have been managed to provide both rare and typical Midwestern habitat including: wetlands, bogs, lakeshores, upland and lowland forests, prairies, and meadows.

Our approach depends on knowing and understanding systems thinking. We learn about natural history, research methods, and land management to understand ecological systems. Then drawing from principles, history, and issues of environmental education, and leadership skills, we learn to work in social systems. In the faith and peacemaking seminar we think about how to communicate between worldviews, and in the Bahamas we put it all together.

Course Listings

ENED 510 Natural History of the Southern Great Lakes (3 credits)

A study of the plants and animals of this region and the ecosystems in which they are found. Emphases on:

  1. interrelationships in ecosystems
  2. the function of ecosystems, both how they operate and how they impact surrounding systems and humans
  3. identity of the organisms that comprise the ecological community. Students will investigate the ecological relationships of the organisms identified as well as behaviors and life cycles.

ENED 515 Research Methods and Measurements (3 credits)

This course investigates a wide range of research strategies that an environmental educator may use and/or encounter in the course of their career. The applied approach is primarily as a leader or director who is either evaluating an existing program, or designing a new program. We will also review and interpret both qualitative and quantitative studies (i.e. gathering information on people or natural resources) in ecological, social, and educational research and spend significant time conceptualizing your year-long project.

ENED 520 Principles of Environmental Education (3 credits)

This is an introductory environmental education course for students from a broad range of backgrounds. Throughout the course we consider the foundations, present, and future of the field of environmental education and its interconnections with other educational and social movements. We will also interact with theories of human learning, and teaching strategies. Students experiment with the process of curriculum design in this course, writing an educational program for an audience of their choice. Students also collaboratively design and implement an educational program for the Elkhart County Fair.

ENED 580 Practicum in Environmental Education (5 credits, 1-3)

Education students will join the Merry Lea Environmental Education Outreach Team in the delivery of a variety of high quality environmental education programs. Through the practicum, participants will gain experience teaching a wide range of age groups from kindergarten through high school, and adults. Educational programs include onsite day programs for public, private, and/or home school students, afterschool environmental education programs for elementary school students, and selected public programs. Participants will catalyze their growth as environmental education practitioners through reflective writing, academic study, dialogue and conversation, and a culture of feedback.

ENED 560 Creative Master’s Project (4 credits)

Your project is designed to investigate a topic, issue, strategy, methodology or practice in environmental and sustainability education. This is an investigation that requires creative insight and creative output, intended to be driven by your passion and interest in a topic within one of the following themes: an environmental issue, an ecological problem, or pedagogical challenges and possible solutions. You will have FOUR major components:

  1. The work itself whether you are conducting a question driven investigation, or you are problem solving with an organization
  2. A major, thesis length paper
  3. Curriculum designed for two distinct audiences
  4. A presentation

This is an applied experience and project that can be useful long into your career.  Throughout it all ask yourself, “What does this mean for me as an educator?”

ENED 525 Environmental Issues & History (3 credits)

A study of current environmental issues facing society. Topics include ethics, citizenry, environmental justice, theological implications and organizations addressing issues. The various facets of the history of environmental education and outdoor education will be reviewed. A study of important literature relevant to all topics will be included.

ENED 530 Leadership & Administration for Environmental Education (3 credits)

A study of essential skills and practices for leadership in an environmental education center. Topics include knowing self, leadership models and patterns, personnel management, strategic planning, personality styles, financial and resource management, budget preparation, board utilization, fundraising and capital campaign, day-to-day functioning of a nature center, and team development.

ENED 550 Faith, Peacemaking and the Environment (1 credit)

The overall objective is to increase our ability to communicate with people who may or may not share our worldview about the environment. Specifically, we will investigate the nexus of faith, peacemaking and the environment. The topic is infinitely large so we can only start the conversation.  We will ask: “How does faith inform the relationship between humans and their environment? How does peacemaking work in the context of the environment? How do people with different worldviews communicate peacefully to benefit the environment?”

Andros beach copy

EnEd 575 International Environmental Education (3 credits)

Located on Andros Island in the Bahamas, this three-week, immersion style, cross-cultural, experience is designed to learn about a new ecosystem, work with Bahamians interculturally, and design EE curriculum within an international context. Participants will investigate a broad spectrum of opportunities and challenges for international non-profits delivering EE to local students, and/or in conjunction with tourism. The tourism on Andros Island is low key compared to the more developed islands, and features an immense coral reef and a 1,000+ sq. mile national park. Although the stay is relatively brief, students will work with the Andros Conservancy and Trust (founded in 1999) to design place-based curriculum; learn about the relationships between NGOs, government agencies, and businesses; apply natural history skills in a different ecosystem; and investigate first hand the implications of of climate change on an island nation.

ENED 535 Land Management for Environmental Education (3 credits)

This is a study of both the theory and practice of managing the “place” for various ecological functions and human values that enhance an environmental education experience. Includes how land management practices need to reflect the economic/social/spiritual values of humans, and the biological functions of the ecosystems it encompasses.

ENED 570 Professional Field Studies in EE (2 credits)

In this course students travel with several faculty members throughout the region to introduce students to a wide range of programs, nature centers, pedagogies, leadership styles, and management strategies in Environmental Education (EE). Visits at organizations range from 1 hour to two days, but typically are 90 -120 minutes. We also investigate critical issues in EE, the interdisciplinary nature of EE, the variations that EE may take, and the decision making process that will affect them as educators throughout their career. Each student develops professional connections, practical resources, and through written reflections an understanding of EE in the broadest sense.