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  Principles of Environmental Education

Environmental Education practice in the United States is defined by these characteristics (excerpted from Defining Environmental Education, a unit in the EE Toolbox):

  • EE incorporates a human component in exploring environmental problems and their solutions.

Environmental solutions are not only scientific--they include historical, political, economic and cultural perspectives. This also implies that the environment includes buildings, highways and ocean tankers as well as pine trees and coyotes.

  • EE rests on a foundation of knowledge about social and ecological systems.
  • Knowledge lays the groundwork for analyzing environmental problems, resolving conflicts, and preventing new problems from arising.
  • EE includes the affective domain: the attitudes, values, and commitments necessary to build a sustainable society.

The role for educators in addressing the affective domain is not always easy. Educators should make it clear that differing personal values exist, that these values can color the facts, and that controversy is often motivated by differing value systems.

EE includes opportunities to build skills that enhance learners’ problem-solving abilities, such as:

  • Communication: listening, public speaking, persuasive writing, graphic design;
  • Investigation: survey design, library research, interviewing, data analysis;
  • Group process: leadership, decision making, cooperation

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