Nicole Ardoin is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Education and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Professor Ardoin´s research focuses on environmental behavior as influenced by environmental learning and motivated by place-based connections. In particular, she is interested in considerations of geographic scale, which is an understudied yet crucial aspect of people-place relationships in a rapidly globalizing, urbanizing world. Professor Ardoin has current studies on the use of education, communications, and other social strategies in informal and community-based settings, including nature-based tourism programs, to engage individuals and communities in deliberate dialogue, environmental decision-making, and informed conservation behavior.

Professor Ardoin also researches the effectiveness of a range of environmental education and social science endeavors in achieving measurable and meaningful conservation results. To this end, she conducts evaluations with informal organizations including museums, zoos/aquariums, parks, and residential environmental education programs, with an emphasis on using innovative, non-traditional metrics and adaptive management approaches. She is also interested in philanthropic support of environmental education and emergent trends in the field of environmental education research.

Administrative Appointments

  • Interpretive Ranger, Student Conservation Association & Grand Canyon National Park (AZ) (1994 - Present)
  • Museum Educator, Discovery Creek Children's Museum of Washington (DC) (1995 - 1996)
  • Environmental Education Specialist, Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education (WI) (1996 - 1998)
  • Exhibition Coordinator and Education Specialist, World Wildlife Fund (DC) (1998 - 2001)

Professional Education

  • B.B.A., International Business & French, James Madison University
  • M.S., Natural Resource Management (Environmental Education & Interpretation), University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
  • M.Phil., Forestry & Environmental Studies (Social Ecology), Yale University
  • Ph. D., Forestry & Environmental Studies (Social Ecology), Yale University

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Nicole Ardoin holds a joint appointment with the Graduate School of Education and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. A unifying theme across Professor Ardoin’s work is an interest in education as an opportunity to engage communities in productive, critical dialogue about sustainability to build resiliency and adaptability in light of changing environmental conditions. To this end, Dr. Ardoin’s current research includes studies on motivations for and barriers to environmental and stewardship behavior among a range of audiences and in varying settings; program evaluation and adaptive management in informal settings such as parks and museums; the use of social strategies by non-governmental organizations to engage individuals and communities in decision-making related to natural resource management; leadership and training programs in natural resources and conservation; and the impact of “green” buildings and the built environment on environmental attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors.


Environmental Learning in the San Francisco Bay Area: Networks, Place Connections, Stewardship, and Educational Outcomes (2012–2015; funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation)

Evaluation of Environmental Literacy and Stewardship Outcomes in Field-Based Science Learning Programs: Tool and Instrument Development (2012–2013; funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation)

Improving the Next Generation of Grantmaking through Building the Capacity of Foundation Program Officers in Evaluation and Adaptive Management (2012–2013; in collaboration with C.R. Hibbs and the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society; funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

The Value of Nature Centers to Communities, Stakeholders, and Conservation (2010–2015; In collaboration with Joe Heimlich, The Ohio State University; Marc Stern, Virginia Tech; the National Audubon Society; funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences)

Designing Research to Strengthen Environmental Education in the Bay Area and Beyond (2011; funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation)

Facilitating Environmental Behavior: Leveraging Nature-Based Tourism Experiences into Everyday Stewardship (2011–2013; in collaboration with William Durham, Anthropology; funded by the Woods Environmental Ventures Project Fund)

Translating Environmental Education Research into Practice (2011–2013; funded by NatureBridge)

TogetherGreen Research and Evaluation, National Audubon Society (2009–2013; in collaboration with Marc Stern, Virginia Tech; and Bob Powell, Clemson University; funded by Toyota North America)

Community-based Interventions for Enhancing Residential Energy Efficiency (2010–2012; in collaboration with Tom Robinson, Stanford University School of Medicine, the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center and H-STAR, funded by the ARPA-E program of the U.S. Dept. of Energy)


Community Involvement
Community/Youth Development and Organizations
Environmental Education
Qualitative Research Methods

2014-15 Courses

Journal Articles