Human behavior is driving many sustainability problems, which means that resolving these issues will require far more people to participate in solutions and act in sustainable ways. However, there is a recognized gap between knowledge and action that remains a significant barrier in achieving transformative sustainability solutions. One way to overcome the knowledge-action gap is to engage more people in place-based experiential learning centered around sustainability. In partnership with Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden (HTBG), we set out to learn about utilizing place-based experiential learning to engage a wider audience to actively participate in sustainability solutions. We researched place-based learning, experiential learning, sustainability education, and behavior change theory. We also conducted several informational interviews with experts in environmental education, STEM, and sustainability science to better understand what is needed for designing meaningful educational experiences that inspire action. We used this research to develop an easily understandable and scalable place-based experiential learning framework that can teach learners about any sustainability challenge or solution. Overall, we found that when grounded in behavior change theory and sustainability principles, place-based experiential learning has the potential to mobilize large groups of people to actively participate in sustainability solutions.
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