Perspectives - Overview
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This section of EE-Link was developed to assist educators, associations, researchers, and others in understanding the evolution of environmental education (EE), the diversity of perspectives that encompass and impact the field, and the context in which recent issues concerning EE have emerged.
While environmental education (EE) has its roots in nature study, conservation education, and outdoor education, it is distinctly different from these earlier movements. Whereas these areas focus on nature, wise use of natural resources, and the use of the outdoors to teach, EE is fundamentally concerned with the interconnection between humans and the environments that surround them (Disinger & Monroe, 1994). In 1969 Dr. William Stapp at the University of Michigan published the first definition of EE:
Environmental education is aimed at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and motivated to work toward their solution (Stapp, W.B, et al. 1969. The Concept of Environmental Education. The Journal of Environmental Education. 1(1):30-31.).
The Stapp definition has evolved with the research findings of environmental education scholars and their understanding of environmental literacy, behavior and the complexity of environmental issues. For the most part this definitional evolution has been a refinement and clarification of the original, while the overall objectives of EE - awareness, knowledge, attitudes, participation and skills and ultimately the creation of an environmentally literate citizenry, laid out in the Tbilisi Declaration of 1977 - have remained central to the mission of environmental education (see the "Foundations of EE" page for a more detailed examination of this evolution).
The field of EE maintains a solid foundation based on the definitions and guiding principles mentioned above. Nonetheless, the field has been influenced over the past 30 years by various forces, including the education reform movement, the emergence of sustainable development, as well as changing national demographics. As with any effective educational program or field, EE is undergoing continuous improvement. Some issues, such as scientific and educational content, action and citizenship participation, and the inclusion of economic and culturally diverse perspectives in EE have emerged in both positive and negative contexts. The field has responded in various ways such as by forming innovative partnerships, developing new programs, and publishing national guidelines for materials, learners, and educators. This section of EE-Link begins to explore some of these issues.
As this is a work in progress, please suggest resources that you think might add to this discussion by using our Add A Link form.