Jolina Ruckert

Jolina Ruckert

Assistant Professor with Term

My research area is broadly defined as Sustainability Psychology. My students and I examine sustainability cognition and action. We aim to address, from a developmental perspective: 1) What is the quality and prevalence of sustainability cognition (beliefs, values, attitudes, and moral concerns for protecting the environment) across the lifespan?, 2) Do outdoor experiences support the development of sustainability cognition?, 3) Do variations in sustainability cognition emerge across cultures, and with the intersectionality of race, region, religion, class, and gender?, and 4) Does sustainability cognition lead to environmental action? With this work we seek to provide evidence-based information to support environmental education, nature-based therapy, environmental conflict resolution, city planning, and conservation initiatives.


Sustainability Psychology

Academic Credentials

PhD 2014, University of Washington, M.Phil. 2006, Pepperdine University, BS 2004 University of Miami


Psy 100: Introduction to Psychology

Psy 230: Infant/Child Development

Psy 300: Research Methods

Psy 330: Adolescent/Adult Development

Psy 360: Psychology of Gender

Psy 400: Psychology of Sustainability


Research Projects at Lewis & Clark

2018 Faculty-Student Summer Collaborative Research Program

Research Title: Nature Speak: A Program for Connecting Kids to Place, Nature, and Each Other

Research Question: How can we use science to empower children to create spaces that help them connect to nature?

PROJECT ABSTRACT: Today’s children spend less time in nature than previous generations. This summer our lab sought to promote children’s access to and relationship with outdoor spaces. We asked children to participate as researchers in our lab and worked alongside them to 1) identify meaningful experiences with nature (e.g. animal encounters, tree climbing), 2) determine the landscape features that allow for these activities, and 3) utilize those landscape elements to redesign a local park, schoolyard, or nearby nature space. We used some of the fundamentals of psychological research methodology (i.e. ethics, scientific method, survey construction, data analysis) to help children realize their power as informed stakeholders in their local community. In addition, from our interactions with kids, we developed a survey assessing the quality of childhood outdoor nature experiences. This is a survey developed for kids, by kids (and LC researchers) which we will employ in future research studies to investigate the role nature experiences play in developing conservation and sustainability concerns. With this work we aim to further empower youth to realize their confidence, voice, and values when it comes to protecting the environment and their relationships with it.

2017 Faculty-Student Summer Collaborative Research Program

Research Title: Entangled Ecopsychology: Links Between Empathy and Environmental Morality

Research Question: Do empathic beliefs vary children’s concerns for protecting endangered species?

PROJECT ABSTRACT: The human-nature relationship is complex and entangled. To understand the development of conservation and sustainability concerns, we need to more fully understand the frameworks that might be working for or against our environmental moral orientations. Our Summer 2017 research team investigated the role empathy plays in structuring children’s (ages 7- and 10-years old) moral regard for endangered animals and environments. We re-analyzed 1000+ pages of transcripts of children’s moral reasoning: we developed and employed a systematic coding schema, built from our literature review and conversations with experts, applied it to the entire data set, and qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed the data. We observed developmental differences in empathetic reasoning and significant links between empathy and morality.

Public Writing and Media Commentary

Related Publications (Lewis & Clark students underlined)

Ruckert, J. H., Casson, N., & Kuh, D. (in press). Sustainable Relationships. Ecopsychology.

Ruckert, J. H., & Arnold, R. (2018). Empathy-related reasoning Is associated with children’s moral concerns for the welfare and rights of animals. Ecopsychology, 10(4), 259-269.

Ruckert, J. H. (2016). Justice for all? Children’s moral reasoning about the welfare and rights of endangered species. Anthrozoös, 29(2), 205-217.

Ruckert, J. H. (2016). Generation conservation: Children’s developing folkbiological and moral conceptions of protecting endangered species. Early Education and Development, 27(8), 1130-1144.