Nicole Ardoin is an associate 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

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

Honors & Awards

  • President's Award, North American Association for Environmental Education (2014)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Board Member, George B. Storer Foundation (2016 - Present)
  • Education Advisory Council Member, Teton Science Schools (2015 - Present)
  • Education Advisory Council Chair, NatureBridge (2010 - Present)
  • Programs Committee of the Board of Directors, Monterey Bay Aquarium (2013 - Present)
  • Advisory Board, North American Association for Environmental Education (2015 - Present)
  • Advisory Board, Brainerd Foundation (2014 - Present)
  • Faculty Steering Committee, Haas Center for Public Service (2015 - 2016)

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 (2012–2016; funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation)

Nature-Based Tourism as a Motivator for Pro-Ocean Behaviors (2014–2016; funded by the Oceanic Society)

Community Conservation: Examining environmental behavior as motivated by participation in aquarium programs (2014–2016; funded by Monterey Bay Aquarium)

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

2016-17 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Conservation in a social-ecological system experiencing climate-induced tree mortality BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION Oakes, L. E., Hennon, P. E., Ardoin, N. M., D'Amore, D. V., Ferguson, A. J., Steel, E. A., Wittwer, D. T., Lambin, E. F. 2015; 192: 276-285
  • Nature-based tourism's impact on environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavior: a review and analysis of the literature and potential future research JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM Ardoin, N. M., Wheaton, M., Bowers, A. W., Hunt, C. A., Durham, W. H. 2015; 23 (6): 838-858
  • Collaborative and Transformational Leadership in the Environmental Realm JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY & PLANNING Ardoin, N. M., Gould, R. K., Kelsey, E., Fielding-Singh, P. 2015; 17 (3): 360-380
  • A Protocol for eliciting nonmaterial values through a cultural ecosystem services frame CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Gould, R. K., Klain, S. C., Ardoin, N. M., Satterfield, T., Woodside, U., Hannahs, N., Daily, G. C., Chan, K. M. 2015; 29 (2): 575-586


    Stakeholders' nonmaterial desires, needs, and values often critically influence the success of conservation projects. These considerations are challenging to articulate and characterize, resulting in their limited uptake in management and policy. We devised an interview protocol designed to enhance understanding of cultural ecosystem services (CES). The protocol begins with discussion of ecosystem-related activities (e.g., recreation, hunting) and management and then addresses CES, prompting for values encompassing concepts identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) and explored in other CES research. We piloted the protocol in Hawaii and British Columbia. In each location, we interviewed 30 individuals from diverse backgrounds. We analyzed results from the 2 locations to determine the effectiveness of the interview protocol in elucidating nonmaterial values. The qualitative and spatial components of the protocol helped characterize cultural, social, and ethical values associated with ecosystems in multiple ways. Maps and situational, or vignette-like, questions helped respondents articulate difficult-to-discuss values. Open-ended prompts allowed respondents to express a diversity of ecosystem-related values and proved sufficiently flexible for interviewees to communicate values for which the protocol did not explicitly probe. Finally, the results suggest that certain values, those mentioned frequently throughout the interview, are particularly salient for particular populations. The protocol can provide efficient, contextual, and place-based data on the importance of particular ecosystem attributes for human well-being. Qualitative data are complementary to quantitative and spatial assessments in the comprehensive representation of people's values pertaining to ecosystems, and this protocol may assist in incorporating values frequently overlooked in decision making processes.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cobi.12407

    View details for Web of Science ID 000351353400028

    View details for PubMedID 25354730

  • Energy behaviours of northern California Girl Scouts and their families ENERGY POLICY Boudet, H., Ardoin, N. M., Flora, J., Armel, K. C., Desai, M., Robinson, T. N. 2014; 73: 439-449
  • Exploring Sense of Place and Environmental Behavior at an Ecoregional Scale in Three Sites HUMAN ECOLOGY Ardoin, N. M. 2014; 42 (3): 425-441
  • Using digital photography and journaling in evaluation of field-based environmental education programs STUDIES IN EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION Ardoin, N. M., DiGiano, M., Bundy, J., Chang, S., Holthuis, N., O'Connor, K. 2014; 41: 68-76
  • The implications of differing tourist/resident perceptions for community-based resource management: a Hawaiian coastal resource area study JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM Vaughan, M. B., Ardoin, N. M. 2014; 22 (1): 50-68
  • Youth-community-university partnerships and sense of place: two case studies of youth participatory action research CHILDRENS GEOGRAPHIES Ardoin, N. M., Castrechini, S., Hofstedt, M. K. 2014; 12 (4): 479-496
  • The forest has a story: cultural ecosystem services in Kona, Hawai'i ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY Gould, R. K., Ardoin, N. M., Woodside, U., Satterfield, T., Hannahs, N., Daily, G. C. 2014; 19 (3)
  • The Relationship of Place Re-Making and Watershed Group Participation in Appalachia SOCIETY & NATURAL RESOURCES Lukacs, H. A., Ardoin, N. M. 2014; 27 (1): 55-69
  • An exploration of future trends in environmental education research ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION RESEARCH Ardoin, N. M., Clark, C., Kelsey, E. 2013; 19 (4): 499-520
  • Views From the Field: Conservation Educators' and Practitioners' Perceptions of Education as a Strategy for Achieving Conservation Outcomes JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Ardoin, N. M., Heimlich, J. E. 2013; 44 (2): 97-115
  • Exploring the dimensions of place: a confirmatory factor analysis of data from three ecoregional sites ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION RESEARCH Ardoin, N. M., Schuh, J. S., Gould, R. K. 2012; 18 (5): 583-607
  • Trends in Philanthropic Support: Foundation Giving in Environmental Education JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W. 2012; 43 (4): 259-273
  • Evaluating a Constructivist and Culturally Responsive Approach to Environmental Education for Diverse Audiences JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Stern, M. J., Powell, R. B., Ardoin, N. M. 2011; 42 (2): 109-122
  • Development and validation of scales to measure environmental responsibility, character development, and attitudes toward school ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION RESEARCH Powell, R. B., Stern, M. J., Krohn, B. D., Ardoin, N. 2011; 17 (1): 91-111
  • What Difference Does It Make? Assessing Outcomes From Participation in a Residential Environmental Education Program JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Stern, M. J., Powell, R. B., Ardoin, N. M. 2008; 39 (4): 31-43
  • Understanding behavior to understand behavior change: a literature review ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION RESEARCH Heimlich, J. E., Ardoin, N. M. 2008; 14 (3): 215-237