As informal education centers that serve the public, museums are in a position to teach about sustainability to a large audience in meaningful ways. Through a combination of motivation and information, green museums try to initiate changes in behavior in people’s everyday lives. Green museums lead by example by explaining to visitors what sustainable activities they are doing and why through signage, programming, and websites. The goal is that visitors will learn about sustainable practices at the museum and then be able to implement them at home.
Many museums dedicated to sustainability and conservation education often utilize the works of theorists like Richard Louv and David Sobel to find the most effective ways to motivate their audiences to conservation action. For instance, Disney's Animal Kingdom cites Richard Louv's Nature Deficit Disorder as one justification for their Kids' Discovery Clubs, which focuses on encouraging children to not only learn about animals but also find out what they can do to help wildlife. Another museum to cite Louv's Nature Deficit Disorder for their programming is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They spearheaded the national Take a Child Outside Week, which encourages children and adults to spend time together outdoors. Many museums also approach sustainability issues with Ecophobia in mind. Ecophobia is David Sobel's theory that if you introduce abstract and difficult environmental issues to children at too early of an age, and with out the proper background knowledge, they will retreat from nature. An example of a museum attempting to overcome Ecophobia would be one that promotes a love of nature and presents a variety of actions guests can take to help the environment before presenting them with more controversial and abstract environmental and sustainability issues. The Brooklyn Children's Museums respects the developmental stages of children by using their LEED certified building to teach children and their families about environmental conservation through interactive, age appropriate exhibits and activities.
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