Alberto Arenas is Professor of Environmental and Sustainability Education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of Arizona. He specializes in the connections between pedagogy and environmental sustainability; experiential education, with an emphasis on vocational education; and the decolonization of education with a focus on restoring culturally-rich, non-commodified knowledge and skills.
In 2019, Dr. Arenas became Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Education, a premier educational journal and the oldest journal on environmental education worldwide in continuous operation.
Dr. Arenas has a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Studies in Education from the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst teaching in the Center for International Education. From 2008-2019, Dr. Arenas was the co-director of the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI), a federally-funded grant that brought 40 Indigenous Latin American college students annually to the University of Arizona to learn about sustainability and Indigenous issues. Between 2013-2015, Professor Arenas was a member of the Scientific Committees of the World Environmental Education Congresses held in Morocco and Sweden. In 2014 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico doing research on Mexico’s environmental education programs. From 2017-2021 he was Associate Editor for Environmental and Sustainability Education of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Educational Administration.
Professor Arenas grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. After studying at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá he relocated to the United States and transferred to the University of Arizona in Tucson to finish his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Journalism. Upon his graduation in 1989, he returned to South America, first to Colombia and then Brazil. While working in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil), he became immersed in the field of literacy. He then returned to the United States to pursue his graduate education, which he did by entering the Graduate School of Education at Berkeley. Over there, he became interested in the field of environmental studies, which he combined with his interests in sociology and anthropology of education, and it is that combination of fields that drives his teaching and research up until the present. Upon receiving his Ph.D. degree in 2000, he went to teach to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he taught at the Center for International Education in the Department of Educational Policy, Research, and Administration.
In 2002, he was hired by his old alma mater, the University of Arizona, and has taught in the College of Education since then. At the University of Arizona he has taught courses related to Environmental and Sustainability Studies; History of Education; Educational Leadership; and Research Methods. His publications have appeared in leading educational journals in the world, including Phi Delta Kappan, Teachers College Record, Compare, the International Review of Education, and the Journal of Environmental Education.
Research Interests: Environmental and sustainability education, Comparative education, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Co-director of the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI)