Tending our Patch of Creation
Engaging Christians in Environmental Stewardship through Sense of Place
Keywords:sense of place, place meaning, conservation behavior, religion, Christianity, framing, outreach programs
Based on existing research about the relationship between belief systems and message framing, as well as between ‘sense of place’ and conservation behavior, we evaluated a conservation outreach program targeted at a religious audience, which employs sense of place as a message frame. We interviewed clergy and laypeople from four Lutheran churches about their experience of participating in the program. We investigated how they understood their churches as place and what salient place meanings emerged therefrom, as well as what effects the sense-of-place frame had on participants’ perspectives and behavior regarding environmental stewardship. Participants’ place experiences included physical, social, and personal components. While less than half adopted new conservation behaviors, a strong majority experienced an expanded awareness of place and several felt more empowered to care for the Earth. Findings suggest that employing the sense-of-place framework may be useful in outreach efforts aimed at motivating Christians to adopt and maintain conservation behavior.
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