Bowdoin’s Dorn Discusses Environmental Education on Podcast

By Tom Porter

Education scholar Charles Dorn took to the “podosphere” recently to talk about a subject he’s done a lot of work on in recent years: the role of popular culture in environmental education.

chuck dorn portrait

The Barry N. Wish Professor of Social Studies was the featured guest on a podcast published by History of Education Quarterly. The podcast itself was inspired by a 2022 article by Dorn called “‘I Never Saw as Good a Nature Show Before’: Walt Disney, Environmental Education, and the True-Life Adventures.”

Dorn, who is also working on a book project exploring the issue of environmental education, says for him it all began with a series of thirteen Disney television documentaries that he first watched as a child in the 1970s.

The True-Life Adventures films were made between 1948 and 1960 and collectively won a record eight Academy Awards, says Dorn. The films, he explains, “are extremely important because they established, essentially, the genre for nature documentary and wildlife films that you I are familiar with today, where animals are the protagonists.”

As well as being cinematically important, Dorn adds, the films are also  significant in educational history for the way they popularized wildlife documentaries and made them accessible. Listen to the podcast.