Tending our Patch of Creation

Engaging Christians in Environmental Stewardship through Sense of Place


  • Jenny Marie Seifert University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Bret R. Shaw University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin Extension




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.

Author Biography

Bret R. Shaw, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin Extension

Bret Shaw is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Environmental Communication Specialist for UW Extension. He works on social marketing campaigns to encourage environmental behavior change.


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How to Cite

Seifert, J. M., & Shaw, B. R. (2013). Tending our Patch of Creation: Engaging Christians in Environmental Stewardship through Sense of Place. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 7(3), 265–288. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.v7i3.265