Children and the Environment

Louise Chawla, Debbie Flanders Cushing, Laura Healey Malinin, Illène Pevec, Willem van Vliet and Kelly Zuniga

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
Children and the Environment


Children and the environment cover a broad, interdisciplinary field of research and practice. The social sciences often use the word “environment” to mean the social, political, or economic context of children’s lives, but this bibliography covers physical settings. It focuses on a place-based scale that children can see, hear, taste, smell, touch, and navigate: not large, abstract scales such as national identities or population dynamics, or small scales such as environmental impacts on genes or cell functions. Attention to the everyday settings of children’s lives grew in the 18th century, when Romantic literature introduced the theme of children and nature. In the 19th century, concern for children’s welfare included an interest in conditions for children in burgeoning industrial cities, and justifications for early streetcar and railroad suburbs included claims that they would save children from the dangers of cities and provide the healthful benefits of natural surroundings. In the 20th century, academic disciplines developed different lines of inquiry about the impact of the physical environment on children and how children relate to places: ethnographic studies of children in different parts of the world in the fields of anthropology and geography; sociological studies of different populations of children in different settings; educational research on the learning opportunities that different school and out-of-school settings afford; medical research to understand disease vectors and the impact of pollutants on children; and efforts in the field of environment and behavior research more broadly, to understand how built and designed environments affect children physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. At the beginning of the 21st century, children and the environment is an active area of inquiry seeking to understand rapidly changing conditions for children as the world urbanizes, opportunities for free play outdoors and independent mobility erode in many parts of the world, media environments consume more of children’s time, and awareness grows that children need opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable societies.

Article.  14801 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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