Cultivating Compassion and Youth Action Around the Globe: A Preliminary Report on Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Program


  • Laura R. Johnson University of Mississippi
  • Julie S. Johnson-Pynn Berry College



This paper describes a unique service-learning based environmental and humanitarian program for youth, The Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots program (R&S). R&S aims to foster learning, personal growth and civic engagement among youth members through service activities and environmental education. Despite its promise as a youth development program and its rapid expansion into 100 countries, little is known about R&S’s impact on youth development. In this study, we explore R&S programs in China and Tanzania, two countries that are maximally different from the U.S. in important cultural and contextual factors. Through qualitative and quantitative methods we describe the programs, their practices, and perceptions of their impact on youths’ personal and social development (cognitive and social competence, leadership, self-efficacy, citizenship and social responsibility). Additionally, we highlight the importance of sociocultural and ecological factors when developing and evaluating youth programs.






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