What is Environmental Education

Environmental Education (EE) is a learning process that increases knowledge and awareness about the environment and develops skills that enable responsible decisions and actions that impact the environment. EE encourages inquiry and investigation and enables the learner to develop critical-thinking, problem-solving and effective decision-making skills. EE enables individuals to weigh various sides of an environmental issue. It does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. (Source: EPA Environmental Education Advances Quality Education, 1999)

EE is taught in traditional classrooms, in communities, and in settings like nature centers, museums, parks, and zoos. Learning about the environment involves many subjects-earth science, biology, chemistry, social studies, even math and language arts-because understanding how the environment works, and keeping it healthy, involves knowledge and skills from many disciplines. EE works best when it is taught in an organized sequence. In schools, EE often reflects state and national learning standards. “Done right,” EE not only creates environmentally literate people, but also helps increase student academic achievement. (Source: Environmental Education and Training Partnership website)

What Are the Components of Environmental Education?

  • Awareness and sensitivity to the environment and environmental challenges
  • Knowledge and understanding of the environment and environmental challenges
  • Attitudes of concern for the environment and motivation to improve or maintain environmental quality
  • Skills to identify and help resolve environmental challenges
  • Participation in activities that lead to the resolution of environmental challenges
    (UNESCO, 1978)

Find out more from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).