In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Environmental Education in Brazil

  • Introduction
  • Methodological and Thematic Diversity in EE
  • Research Groups and Events
  • Research on Environmental Education: Specific EE Journals
  • Research on Environmental Education: Journals from Different Fields of Knowledge
  • National Articles on the State of the Art on EE Research
  • Post-Graduation: Theses and Dissertations

Education Environmental Education in Brazil
Luiz Marcello Carvalho, Isabel Moura Carvalho, Marcelo Gules Borges
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 February 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 February 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0311


Scientific research on environmental education in Brazil, whose first productions date back from the 1980s, has undergone significant growth since the 2000s. Such phenomenon is closely related to the expansion of postgraduate programs around the country. Hence, this academic environment, itself comprised of several fields of knowledge, has been the main locus of research production in this area. Environmental education research (EER) is characterized by interdisciplinarity and its diversity of epistemological, theoretical, and methodological approaches. This field of research emerged in Brazil in the 1980s—the first master’s dissertation was concluded in 1981 and the first doctoral thesis in 1990. Several dissertations were presented throughout the 1980s as well as a significant number of theses in the 1990s; nonetheless, EER was not yet widely noticeable, still holding a timid and disperse presence in the scientific scope. EER found its expansion as a relatively autonomous field in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period when scientific events in education—such as the meetings of the National Postgraduate and Research Associations (ANPED and ANPPAS) and the Environmental Education Research Meeting (EPEAs) dedicate specific attention in their programming for discussion about the research developed in this field. One may also trace back to the 2000s the emergence of the first scientific journals focused on EER. Environmental education has been the object of constant production of scientific investigation papers, most recently even by works of meta research which, in its vast majority, converge regarding their critical stances on the developmental capitalist model. In the past decades research in environmental education has incorporated new epistemic debates stemming from the field of social sciences which involve, for instance, post critical thinking, decolonial perspective, neo-materialism, post-humanism, among others; seeking to propose pedagogical pathways capable of standing against both crescent environmental fragility and social exclusion which are deepening in the 21st century.

Methodological and Thematic Diversity in EE

As we have seen environmental education (EE) is configured by Brazilian socio-environmental movements and public policies, as well as, within the scientific field, by interdisciplinarity; such features imprint, both on EE and on research on EE, an extensive thematic and methodological diversity. In this section, we highlight a set of publications which, at least partly speaking, indicate such diversity. To this end, articles published in scientific journals of worldwide circulation—that is, both national and foreign journals published in the English language—have been selected, therefore, we present a sample of the main trends and concerns in the field of environmental education research (EER) in Brazil. Stahelin, et al. 2015 researched EE within family agriculture programs administered by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment. Rodrigues and Payne 2017 focused on environmentalization, curriculum, and physical education programs in Brazilian universities. From cultural studies, Belinaso, et al. 2018 analyzed the relationship between EE and television narratives in Brazil. Pereira, et al. 2022 researched EE and the meanings of the term complexity throughout theses and dissertations. Different methodologies are explored in examples such as Galiazzi, et al. 2018, a work that studied learning communities of EE and belonging in teacher education through learning narratives. Along the same line, Silva, et al. 2018 explored participatory social mapping as a methodology in EE. Analyzing the field of EER, Layrargues and Lima 2014 presented the macro-trends on EE in Brazil, looked at from the concept of social field by Pierre Bourdieu. Trein 2018 analyzed EE in Brazil from a Marxist perspective, and Thiemann, et al. 2018 presented a historical, cultural, and regional portrait of EER in Brazil.

  • Belinaso, Leandro, Lúcia Estevinho, and Mariana Brasil Ramos. 2018. Environmental education in television narratives: A Brazilian case study. Environmental Education Research 24.10: 1490–1500.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1545150

    This article discusses EER focusing on the relationship between EE and cultural studies by investigating the impacts of television narratives. Examples are drawn from a television program called Reporter Eco. The authors argue that the media forges ways of seeing the world and poses a challenge for teachers in terms of promoting a critical examination of education for sustainability—and also compels teachers to use media means in their classes.

  • Galiazzi, Maria do Carmo, Diana Paula Salomão Freitas, Cleiva Aguiar Lima, Cláudia da Silva Cousin, Moacir Langoni Souza, and Rodrigo Launikas Cupelli. 2018. Narratives from learning communities of environmental education. Environmental Education Research 24.10: 1501–1513.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1545152

    This article introduces core concepts that emerged from five call-to-action research studies on EE conducted by a group named Learning Communities in Environmental Education, Science and Mathematics (CEAMECIM) from the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), in the south of Brazil. These studies explore learning narratives and focus on how a sense of belonging to a larger learning community is beneficial to the teacher education process.

  • Layrargues, Philippe Pomier, and Gustavo Ferreira da Costa Lima. 2014. The Brazilian environmental education macro-political-pedagogical trends. Ambiente e Sociedade 17.1: 23–39.

    DOI: 10.1590/S1414-753X2014000100003

    This article presents macro-trends of current differentiations of EE in Brazil and seeks to interpret them through a dialogue with the concept of social fields, by Pierre Bourdieu. The reflection identifies three macro-trends competing for symbolic and objective hegemony within the environmental education field in Brazil, namely: conservationist, pragmatic, critical. These trends are taken as Weberian ideal types serving didactic, analytical, and political purposes. They are not objectivist representations of reality.

  • Pereira, Brenda Braga, Luciano Fernandes Silva, and Janaina R. Santos. 2022. Environmental education and complexity: A study based on Brazilian theses and dissertations. Science & Education 31: 1–20.

    DOI: 10.1007/s11191-021-00228-9

    This paper is the concluding chapter in the special issue “Global Politics of Knowledge Production in EER: ‘New’ Theory and North-South Representations” (The Journal of Environmental Education). The authors aimed to highlight relevant issues and acknowledged limitations, and silences, from the sample of critiques presented in the special issue, built from a pre-elaborated research agenda and methodological framework for reviewing/revisiting, and possibly, de and re-constructing of “new” and “post” (theory).

  • Rodrigues, Caê, and Phillip G. Payne. 2017. Environmentalization of the physical education curriculum in Brazilian universities: Culturally comparative lessons from critical outdoor education in Australia. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning 17.1: 18–37.

    DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2015.1035294

    This article investigates the federal government mandate to environmentalize undergraduate physical education programs and poses the question of which aspects of physical education are conducive to change—“nature” sports, or outdoor/adventure activity education. The authors take on a comparative approach to culturally diverse experiences in order to ponder possibilities for curriculum change, within the field of physical and sport education, both in Brazil and in Australia.

  • Silva, Regina Silva, Michelle Jaber, and Michèle Sato. 2018. Social mapping and environmental education: Dialogues from participatory mapping in Pantanal, Mato Grosso. Brazil. Environmental Education Research 24.10: 1514–1526.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1545151

    This article illustrates the steps taken by the Environmental Education, Communications and Arts Research Group (GPEA) from the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT) in order to enact a new methodology for participatory social mapping. The aim of social mapping is to record identities, territories, and socio-environmental conflicts experienced by social groups, based on their own terms and narratives, rather than relying on those typically generated or provided by researchers.

  • Stahelin, Nicolas, Inny Accioly, and Celso Sánchez. 2015. The promise and peril of the state in neoliberal times: Implications for critical environmental education movement in Brazil. Environmental Education Research 21.3: 433–446.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2014.994167

    This article analyzes EE within family agriculture programs administered by the Ministry of the Environment. This policy seeks to promote sustainable development in rural areas through adult education, but reveals profound ideological contradictions. There is a gap between a critical rhetoric of sustainability and the state limits in a dependent economy—which tends to reinforce the capitalist system, characterized by high environmental impact and deeply stratified class relations.

  • Thiemann, Flávia Torreão, Luiz Marcelo Carvalho, and Haydée Torres Oliveira. 2018. Environmental education research in Brazil. Environmental Education Research 24.10: 1441–1446.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1536927

    This article offers a brief historical, cultural, and regional portrait of EER in Brazil. Its main purpose is to offer readers a short background, and, in so doing, highlight the main factors for understanding education in Brazil, as follows: the effects of social and political backdrops and issues, the unique environments on which environmental education is grounded, and how EER, in turn, may echo or influence public policies.

  • Trein, Eunice Schilling. 2018. An argument for vindicating a Marxist ontology. Environmental Education Research. Environmental Education Research 24.10: 1464–1475.

    DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1545153

    This essay reflects on EE in Brazil, through a Marxist perspective. It draws on the Marxist concept of labor, where labor is a category to articulate the relationships between humans and nature. Given the ongoing process, under a capitalist production, of destroying the material basis for life, it argues that environmental educators and researchers require refinements of such theoretical frameworks in order to understand contradictions between development and sustainability in Brazil.

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