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From crisis to hope

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Nicole Ardoin

Nicole Ardoin

Sykes Family Director, E-IPER, Associate Professor, Education

March 1, 2021

As an environmental researcher hailing from the Graduate School of Education, Nicole Ardoin embodies the interdisciplinary objective of her directive, the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020-21. Her approach to education also nurtures the many research pursuits within the program, which include natural and Earth sciences, engineering, economics, humanities, social sciences, law, health, policy and business.

“Information is information. Education is about building people's knowledge, attitudes, values, skills and then behavior,” said Ardoin, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “It's about helping people recognize that they have the skills and the ability to envision a better future, and then they can work to make that happen.”

A self-declared optimist, Ardoin brings a sense of hope that outshines the climate despair dominating much of today’s environmental news. For her, the doom-and-gloom headlines are catalysts for fostering a different way of thinking, reminders of the importance of educating to promote action.

“We are already in the midst of transforming this narrative from a narrative of crisis to one of hope and innovation,” Ardoin said. “We are training dynamic, engaged, and passionate leaders who are transforming the way we work today and for generations into the future.”

The E-IPER program extends beyond the university, bringing research into practice in the real world. “We're all focused on the solution space, and that in and of itself changes our idea of what a university does and what research looks like,” Ardoin said. “We enact it by doing the research, by fostering dynamic and passionate leaders, and then that change is a cycle.”

Ardoin’s own research explores how environmental learning can influence people’s behavior, as well as how learning opportunities can foster engagement with environmental decision-making.