Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke


Teaching Writing with Play: A Study of Community-Based Science Education in a National Park is a rhetorical ethnography designed to bring the lessons of community-based science education and science communication practices to bear on the university writing classroom. I examined how park rangers use engaged, playful methods to educate people about scientific and technical issues that affect coastal communities. Through three years of ethnographic field research and collaborative writing with the National Park Service, I investigated evolving public outreach programs at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) in New York during a time when heightened public contention about science-based decision-making created an exigence for park staff to re-evaluate their science communication and training methods. I conducted interviews and observations of park interpretive programs and trainings, collected relevant digital and print texts, and analyzed data with theoretical lenses from writing pedagogy, rhetoric of science, community writing studies, and environmental communication. This inquiry revealed public interpretive programs favoring dialogic and embodied interaction over technocratic forms of science communication. I argue that, in the wake of catastrophic storms and other environmental disturbances, as policymakers, land managers, and citizens come to terms with the possibilities for and constraints on recovery and mitigation, efforts toward more engaged, context-driven forms of public science communication can contribute to and strengthen ecological and community resilience. This study has relevance for science and technical writing, community writing studies, public participation in science-based decision-making, and writing pedagogy.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.