Marijke Hecht

Marijke Hecht
Assistant Professor of Environmental Education
320D Kottman Hall

Professional Information

Research Area(s): 

Urban environmental education

Informal and out-of-school learning

Science & environmental identity development

Relational processes between human and more-than-human beings

Parks & greenspaces

Learning ecosystem theory and design

Design-based research


I research how experiences across home, school, and informal spaces, such as parks and museums, support environmental interest and identity development. I work collaboratively with educators, learners, and community members to explore urban greenspaces as valuable sites for learning, advocacy, and stewardship and to foster relationships between human and more-than-human beings in support of multispecies justice. My approach is interdisciplinary, weaving together environmental education, community-based ecological design, learning sciences, and naturalist practices. My teaching practice also draws on these disciplines and is structured to strengthen student motivation through a focus on learner interest.

Prior to my work in academia, I worked as a public-school math & science teacher in my hometown of NYC and as an environmental non-profit leader in Pittsburgh. As the Director of Education for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, I led the organization in successfully expanding and diversifying participation in parks-based science education in partnership with local K-12 educators. While in Pittsburgh, I also spearheaded two major urban environmental projects – advocating for the Nine Mile Run aquatic ecosystem restoration, one of the largest urban stream restorations in the U.S., and managing the design and construction of the Frick Environmental Center, a public education and welcome center that is net-zero water and energy and is LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified.


Environmental and Social Sustainability Lab:


ENR 3611 – Introduction to Environmental Education


See my Google Scholar page -

Hecht, M. & Nelson, T. (2022) Getting “really close”: Relational processes between youth, educators, and more-than-human beings as a unit of analysis. Environmental Education Research, 28(9), 1359-1372.

Drage, E., Hecht, M., Taff, B. D., & Newman, P. (2022). Exploring stakeholder perspectives in protected areas and gateway communities: The case of aviation tourism growth in the Alaska Range. Tourism Recreation Research, 1–14.

Hecht, M. & Nelson, T. (2021). Youth, place, and educator practices: Designing program elements to support relational processes and naturalist identity development. Environmental Education Research, 27(9), 1401-1420.

Akiva, T., Hecht, M., & Osai, E. (2021). Arts learning across a city: How ecosystem thinking helps shape understanding of Black-centered and Eurocentric arts programming. Urban Education, online first, 1-27.

Hecht, M. (2021). Supporting youth environmental interest and identity development through program infrastructures connecting people and place. In E. de Vries, Y. Hod, & J. Ahn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of the Learning Sciences – ICLS 2021 (pp. 893-894). Bochum, Germany: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Hecht, M. (2021). Creating cultural refugia to transform the boundaries of science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 16, 549-556.

Hecht, M., & Crowley, K. (2020). Unpacking the learning ecosystem framework: Lessons from the adaptive management of biological systems. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(29), 264-284.

Hecht, M., Knutson, K., Crowley, K., Lyons, M., McShea, P., & Giarratani, L. (2020). “How could the dinosaurs be so close to the future?”: How natural history museum educators tackle deep time. Curator: The Museum Journal, 63(1), 39-54.

Hecht, M., Crowley, K., & Russell, J. (2020). Decentering humans in the learning sciences: The role of nonhuman nature and place in learning ecosystems. In M. Gresalfi & I. S. Horn (Eds.), The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning Sciences, 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020, Volume 1 (pp. 501-504). Nashville, Tennessee: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Hecht, M., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2019). Becoming a naturalist: Interest development across the learning ecology. Science Education, 103(3), 691-713