This paper proposes how the theoretical framework of ecological dynamics can provide an influential model of the learner and the learning process to pre-empt effective behaviour changes. Here we argue that ecological dynamics supports a well-established model of the learner ideally suited to the environmental education context because of its emphasis on the learner–environment relationship. The model stems from perspectives on behaviour change in ecological psychology and dynamical systems theory. The salient points of the model are highlighted for educators interested in manipulating environmental constraints in the learning process, with the aim of designing effective learning programmes in environmental education. We conclude by providing generic principles of application which might define the learning process in environmental education programmes.