This study reports the effects of a field trip environmental education program with a social-ecological perspective on the experience and learning of university students from China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. The students visited Jeju Island, the Saemangeum Sea Dike, the Demilitarized Zone and Seoul, South Korea. Their experiences and learning about social-ecological interactions were analyzed using the new environmental paradigm test, an evaluation questionnaire, group presentations and individual reports. Across demographic characteristics, the participants believed the program fairly presented the concept of social-ecological systems. Some developed new ideas of social-ecological systems through interpreting, transforming and contextualizing their field trip experience based on prior knowledge bases; others compared the sites to case studies. They preferred the sites where social-ecological issues were clearly presented by well-preserved landscapes, successful environmental management or environmental conflict. The results show the need for an advanced multi-dimensional methodology to evaluate students’ learning through constructive processes. The program design of this study from planning to field trip and evaluation, the field site design in which regional site resources were organized in a social-ecological context and the analysis of participants’ learning and experiences could contribute to attempts to couple the social-ecological perspective with the practice of sustainability and environmental education in field trip design.
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