Patty Born Selly, Associate Professor of Education; Co-Program Director Environmental Studies

Patty Born

Associate Professor - Education; Co-Program Director - Environmental Studies
Work space: St. Paul Main Campus > West Hall > West Hall WEST OFFICE

Patty Born received her EdD from Hamline University in 2019 and her master's in 2005. She is the author of three books about environmental and science education for teachers who work with young children, and has published widely on human-animal relations and education for sustainability. She is the former executive director of the National Center for STEM elementary education at Saint Catherine University. In that capacity, Patty helped teachers create strong connections between the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For ten years, Patty operated a science and nature education consulting business, Small Wonders, serving schools through environmental and science curriculum development, grant writing assistance, and professional development for teachers. Her clients have included public and private schools, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Throughout her career, Patty has taught in early childhood and elementary settings, and has also served as a science specialist. Early in her career, Patty worked in nonformal education settings, such as parks and nature centers, zoos, and arboreta, where she wrote curriculum and taught children and adults of all ages. She also worked as a wildlife research assistant, prairie burn technician, bird and reptile rehabilitator, and water quality educator. She was an instructor and outreach specialist for the Science Museum of Minnesota. Patty has presented at numerous local, national, and international conferences on STEM and children's development, human-animal relations, and environmental education.

Patty’s scholarly interests include critical animal studies, ecofeminism, critical posthumanism, environmental justice, and sustainability education. She is currently conducting research on climate literacy in teacher preparation programs. Her international research includes an ongoing study on the impact of field-based courses in science pedagogy as well as the value of human-animal connections. She recently received a $500,000 grant from the Legislative Citizens’ Commission on Minnesota’s Resources to create a “Teacher Field School” dedicated to helping K-12 educators learn to teach using nature-based pedagogy across the curriculum. Patty is committed to helping students “teach locally, think globally” and in addition to leading field study courses in Mexico to study sustainable ecotourism, gray whales, and marine plastics, she also travels to the United Nations Conference of the Parties each year for the annual climate change conference and negotiations. Patty is also engaged in Hamline's partnership with Hamline Elementary where she serves on the Design Leadership Team for STEAM education and support science and environmental learning at the school.

Her teaching style is flexible and student-centered, grounded in care for learners and for the natural world. She believes that each student brings their own strengths and expertise to the classroom setting, and her job is to help nurture those qualities while supporting every student's personal and professional growth. Through inquiry, hands-on experience, and community-building, Patty aims to help students experience the joy and wonder of science and environmental education while also promoting deep intellectual curiosity and rigor.

Born, P. (in press) Ed. Multispecies Thinking for a Sustainable Future. Lexington.
Born, P. (2022) Life on Land. in Scoffham, S., & Rawlinson, S. (Eds.) Sustainability Education: A Classroom Guide. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Born, P. (2019) A future that is big enough for all of us: Animals in sustainability education. Armon, J., Scoffham, S., & Armon, C. (Eds.)Prioritizing sustainability education: A comprehensive approach. Routledge>
Born, P. (2018). Regarding Animals: A Perspective on the Importance of Animals in Early Childhood Environmental Education. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 5(2), 46-57.
Selly, P. B. (2017). Teaching STEM Outdoors: Activities for Young Children. Redleaf Press. 10 Yorkton Court, St. Paul, MN 55117-1065.

“Prioritizing love, care, and joy is the most important thing we can do as educators. Especially now, when the climate crisis is upon us, we must recognize and elevate the importance of connection-to one another, to other-than-human beings, and to the natural world as a whole.” 

—Patty Born  

Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth
Connecting Animals and Young Children