Meredith Jean Bird Miller, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • James Jordan, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Jean Kayira, PhD, Committee Member
  • Robert Taylor, PhD, Committee Member


landscape-lore, storywork, digital storytelling, relational, reflective practice, metacognitive, multiliteracies, community of practice, land education, learner-centered, critical Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous environmental knowledge systems, children’s human rights, childhoodnature, place-conscious education, decolonize, conscientization

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We know that when children feel a sense-of-relation within local natural environments, they are more prone to feel concern for them, while nurturing well-being and resilience in themselves and in lands/waters they inhabit. Positive environmental behaviors often follow into adulthood. Our human capacities for creating sustainable solutions in response to growing repercussions of global warming and climate change may grow if more children feel a sense of belonging in the wild natural world. As educators, if we listen to and learn from students’ voices about how they engage in nature, we can create pedagogical experiences directly relevant to their lives. Activities that relate to learners’ lives inspire motivation, curiosity, and furthers understanding. Behaviors supporting environmental stewardship, environmental justice, and participation in citizen science and phenology are more probable when children feel concern for ecological landscapes. Internationally, some educators are free to encourage a sense-of -relation by bringing students into natural places. Yet, there are many educators who are constrained from doing so by strict local, state, and national education policies and accountability measures. Overcoming restrictions requires creative, relevant, and enjoyable learner-centered opportunities. Research shows that virtual nature experiences can provide for beneficial connections with(in) nature for children and adults. It is best to bring children outside. When this is not possible, a sense of wonder may be encouraged in the classroom. Our exploratory collaborative digital landscape-lore project makes this possible. We expand awareness about how we, educators, and children alike, are engaged within the landscapes and waterscapes significant to us. The term landscape-lore articulates the primacy of the places we find meaningful. Our intercultural investigations took place in collaborative public schools in colonized landscapes. New Hampshire and New Zealand, known by their first inhabitants, the Aln8bak and Māori peoples respectively, as N’dakinna (the Dawnland) and Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) are landscapes that have transformed over millennia, as all places do. The deep relational knowing and caring for these landscapes and waterscapes for millennia has been greatly interrupted by colonization across the globe. Telling stories to following generations is serious storywork; they sustain culture, lands, and waters in reciprocity and deep memory. Landscape-lore and ecocultural multiliteracies, such as singing, oratory, music and dance are responsible rituals that support ancestral Indigenous Environmental Knowing and Wisdom Systems. These cultural frameworks could be vital for encouraging respectful and collaborative sustainability solutions for the entire biosphere. Centered within critical Indigenous methodologies, this relational, qualitative study endeavored to be ecoculturally responsive, respectful, and culturally sustaining. Creating experiential digital landscape lore gave us ways to share the natural world in our own voices. We were situated within a shared sense of holistic belonging in ecocultural places and communities. Exchanging our independent excursions in local land-/ waterscapes by crossing virtual biogeographical borders increased exposure to diverse worldviews and places. As a transdisciplinary process, such a learning experience fosters new emotional connections and critical human-nature systems thinking. Our study incorporates children’s landscape-lore in an ethical and respectful manner. Our main research questions were: 1. How are children engaged with(in) the natural world as described in their digital landscape-lore? 2. What culturally responsive background knowledges are vital for educators preparing to facilitate such a learning project both locally and globally? 3. How might a digital landscape-lore project support goals for connecting children and communities in relational reciprocity within and across diverse landscapes, worldviews, and times? How might landscape-lore create personal relevance, curiosity, and learning? Findings demonstrate that co-researching children each have experiential environmental knowledge that informs their relationships within their ecocultural locations and landscape-lore. Their embodied movements and experiences in nature are also significant. Children’s landscape-lore describe social participation in exploratory adventures among friends, family, beyond-human kin. Interactions with biophysical entities within land- and waterscapes hold diverse worldview meanings for children. Children demonstrated that they are savvy, digital citizens. They educated teachers and classmates about places meaningful to them. Significantly, most landscape-lore, in both N’dakinna/New Hampshire and Aotearoa New Zealand, included social moments with friends and family, and described local animals. This contrasts with many studies demonstrating a preference for distant charismatic wildlife. Children’s experiential landscape lore stories described the local biodiversity in their home environments. Our collaborative experiential landscape-lore supported innovative tech skills and critical multiliteracies directly relevant to the interests and ecocultural lives of learners of all ages.


Meredith Jean Bird Miller

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0007-3997-2172