What is Environmental Education?
Environmental education is an organized effort to teach about how natural ecosystems or environments function and more specifically, how human beings can manage their behavior in order to promote healthy and stable living.
Environmental education, as a term, is typically used to imply educational efforts within a school system, from primary to post-secondary, in order to teach humans about the environment and particularly, how our actions affect the ecosystem. In a broader sense, however, environmental education is sometimes used to include all efforts to educate the public and other audiences through the use of non-traditional educational mediums, such as the delivery of print materials, media campaigns and websites.
Environmental education is a teaching/learning process that aims at increasing an individual’s knowledge and awareness concerning the environment and associated challenges. Environmental education aims to develop necessary skills and expertise to address environment-related challenges, through the obtainment of attitudes and commitments to produce informed decisions and take responsible action.
The Focus of Environmental Education:
Environmental education focuses on the following subjects:
Environmental education aims to boost awareness and sensitivity concerning the environment and changes to the environment.
Environmental education aims to increase knowledge and understanding concerning the environment and its challenges
Environmental education aims to bolster our attitude concerning the environment; the teaching platform aims to maintain environmental quality
Environmental education offers skills to help mitigate environmental problems
The field of study provides participation organizations to exercise existing knowledge and environmental related programs.
Environmental Education in the United States:
In the 1980s, several non-governmental organizations that previously focused on environmental education, continued to evolve and grow; the number of teachers implementing environmental education in their respective classrooms greatly increased throughout the subsequent decades. As the field became more popular in a localized sense, environmental education gained stronger political backing.
The field bolstered its effectiveness when the United States Congress passed the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, which positioned the Office of Environmental Education in the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency and allowed the EPA to create and subsequently provide several environmental education initiatives at the federal level.
In the school system, environmental education is considered an additional or elective subject in the traditional K-12 curriculum. At the elementary school level, the field can the form of science enrichment subjects, community service projects, natural history field trips and loose participation in science schools.
Public schools have the ability to integrate the subject matter into their respective curricula through the aid of sufficient funding from environmental education policies. By utilizing this approach, a school will effectively place environmental education into the core subjects; as a non-elective, environmental education will not take time or resources away from other important subjects, such as music or art.
In a secondary setting, environmental education can take the form of a focused subject within the sciences or as a part of elective student clubs. At the undergraduate or graduate level, the subject can be considered its own specified field within education, environmental science and policy, ecology or environmental studies.