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Elsa Lee



Research Associate (Faculty of Education); Bye-Fellow (Homerton College)

E-mail Address


01223 767632


  • PhD (University of Bath)
  • MA Environmental Education (University of Bath)
  • PGCE King’s College (University of London)
  • BSc Hons Plant Science

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Network 30: Environmental and Sustainability Education Research, at European Educational Research Association
  • British Education Research Association
  • National Association of Environmental Education

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Dr Elsa Lee is an educationalist specialising in environmental sustainability education, citizenship education, place-based learning and hydro-sociology. She spent ten years teaching science at secondary schools in the UK and Mexico before returning to university for further study. Since completing her doctorate she has worked on a number of projects seeking to understand human relationships with the natural worlds, human behaviour towards the environment, including through sociological, anthropological and psychological theories and concepts, and how this intersects with education. This has included working on the interdisciplinary AHRC funded project entitled Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate: time and place in cultural learning about the environment and its follow-on funded impact project AHRC Healthy Waterways. These projects involved using ethnographic research techniques, in particular walking as a method for research and public engagement, and this innovative approach remains an important part of how Elsa approaches data generation.

In a collaboration with colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University Elsa has worked with Arts-based research methods to explore how artists and children working together in natural outdoor places might influence wellbeing.  This has led to a part-time Research Fellow position on the AHRC Eco-capabilities project at Anglia Ruskin University.  

Elsa is the Principal Investigator for the ESRC project: Connecting Water to Global Citizenship through Education for Sustainable Development ( The aim of the project is to understand and critique global citizenship through the lens of young people engaged with community-based waterway regeneration initiatives.; in particular through comparing across the global North and South. 

Elsa's research informed teaching revolves around the role of the environment in education, and she has lectured to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the faculty of education, focusing on this topic, and on ethnography as a method in educational research. 

Elsa is a reviewer for the journal Environmental Education Research, amongst others, and link convenor for network Environmental and Sustainability Education Research for the European Conference on Educational Research and has recently established a national network of researchers interested in Environmental Sustainability Education Research, (ESE RN UK and IE). 

Elsa is chair of examiners for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership.  

Academic Area/Links

  • Culture, Politics and Global Justice

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    Research Topics

    • Environmental Education
    • Education for Sustainable Development
    • Place - local and global
    • Citizenship Education
    • New Materialism 
    • Ethnography and Arts-informed research methods

    Current Research Project(s)

    • Connecting Water to Global Citizenship via Education for Sustainable Development (cw2gc)

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    Elsa supervises dissertations on the Education Tripos undergraduate programme and has supervised on the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership's Masters programme. Elsa lectures to undergraduate and postgraduate students about environmental education in relation to performance, play and educational sociology.  She also lectures on ethnographic methods in education.  Elsa is the module lead for the Art, Nature and Wellbeing module on the PPD Transforming Practice programme at the Faculty of Education.  

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    Principal and Recent Publications


    Lee, E., Blackmore, C. and Seal, E.  (2013) Research Journeys: A Collection of Narratives of the Doctoral Experience. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Reports

    Book chapters

    Lee, Elsa, Paul Vare, et al. (2020) “The Ebb and Flow of Environmental and Sustainability Education in UK Schools.” Green Schools Globally, edited by Annette Gough et al., Springer International Publishing, pp. 365–84, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-46820-0_20.

    Lee, E.., N. Walshe, R. Sapsed and J. (2018) Artists as Emplaced Pedagogues: How Does Thinking About Children’s Nature Relations Influence Pedagogy?. In: Cutter-Mackenzie A., Malone K., Barratt Hacking E. (eds) Research Handbook on Childhoodnature. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Cham

    Walshe, Nicola, Elsa Lee, Danielle Lloyd, et al. (2019) “STEM to STEAM as an Approach to Human Development: The Potential of Arts Practices for Supporting Wellbeing.” Why Science and Art Creativities Matter, edited by Pamela Burnard and Laura Colucci-Gray, Brill | Sense, 2019, pp. 337–57, doi:10.1163/9789004421585_019.

    Articles & Reports

    Walshe, N., Lee, E., & Smith, M. (2020). Supporting Children's Wellbeing with Art in Nature: Artist Pedagogue Perceptions. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 13(1).

    Irvine, R, E Lee (2018) Over and under: children navigating terrain in the East Anglian fenlands Safe Spaces special issue: Children’s Geographies

    Irvine, R, B Bodenhorn, E Lee, D Amarbayasgalan (2019) Learning to see climate change: children’s perceptions of environmental transformation in Mongolia, Mexico, Arctic Alaska, and the UK; Current Anthropology

    Lee, E.U. (2017) The Eco-club: a Place for the Becoming Active Citizen. Environmental Education Research DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1149552

    Lee, E, R Irvine, B Bodenhorn, D Amarbayasgalan (2016) Changing climates, different cultures: school curricula and children’s perceptions, Environmental Education Vol 112 (Summer): pp23-25

    Irvine, R, E Lee, M Strubel, B Bodenhorn (2016) Exclusion and reappropriation: experiences of contemporary enclosure among children in three East Anglian schools, Environment and Planning D Environment and Planning D 34(5):935-954

    Barratt Hacking, E., Scott, W. and Lee, E., (2010) Evidence of Impact of Sustainable Schools. Other. Department for Children, Schools and Families  (DCSF).