Environmental education is supported by several national professional educational organizations as an important part of children's school experiences:
US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, commits to supporting environmental education in our nation's schools as a part of the the "Blueprint for Success."
"I promise you that we will be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society...Right now, in the second decade of the 21st century, preparing our students to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do. It is for our children, and our children's children, and generations yet to come."
Because people in developing nations are rapidly consuming Earth's natural resources and because the world population is increasing rapidly, human beings must take individual and social responsibility for the environment. Schools should provide environmental education.
NSTA strongly supports environmental education as a way to instill environmental literacy in our nation's pre-K-16 students. It should be a part of the school curriculum because student knowledge of environmental concepts establishes a foundation for their future understandings and actions as citizens. Central to environmental literacy is the ability of students to master critical-thinking skills that will prepare them to evaluate issues and make informed decisions regarding stewardship of the planet. The environment also offers a relevant context for the learning and integration of core content knowledge, making it an essential component of a comprehensive science education program.
Environmental education programs should foster observation, investigation, experimentation, and innovation. Programs should be developed with grade-appropriate materials and should use a range of hands-on, minds-on instructional strategies that encourage active learning.
Environmental education programs and curricula should address student outcomes as specified in the National Science Education Standards, be grounded in sound research, and reflect the most current information and understandings in the field.
All learners are expected to achieve environmental literacy and an appreciation for and knowledge of a range of environmental issues, perspectives, and positions.
All learners should be taught how to think through an issue using critical-thinking skills, while avoiding instructor or media bias regarding what to think about the issue.
Environmental education should provide interdisciplinary, multicultural, and multi-perspective viewpoints to promote awareness and understanding of global environmental issues, potential solutions, and ways to prevent emerging environmental crises.
Developers of environmental education programs should strive to present a balance of environmental, economic, and social perspectives.
Appropriate technologies should be used to enhance environmental education learning experiences and investigations.
Environmental education programs and activities should be fostered through both formal and informal learning experiences.
Collaborations among schools, museums, zoos, aquaria, nature centers, government agencies, associations, foundations, and private industry should be encouraged to broaden the availability of educational resources, engage the community, provide diverse points of view about the management of natural resources, and offer a variety of learning experiences and career education opportunities.
--Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors February 2003
AAAS. (2001). Atlas of Science Literacy. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Education for Sustainability: An Agenda for Action. (1996). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
NAAEE. (2000). Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence. 2nd edition. Rock Spring, GA: North American Association for Environmental Education.
NAAEE. (2000). Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning (K-12). 2nd edition. Rock Spring, GA: North American Association for Environmental Education.
NAAEE. (2000). Guidelines for the Initial Preparation of Environmental Educators. 2nd edition. Rock Spring, GA: North American Association for Environmental Education.
NAAEE, EETAP. (1999). EEducator. Rock Spring, GA: North American Association for Environmental Education.
National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
UNESCO, UNE. (1976). The Belgrade Charter. New York: United Nations.
National Council for the Social Studies believes that an effective social studies program must include global and international education. Global and international education are important because the day-to-day lives of average citizens around the world are influenced by burgeoning international connections. The human experience is an increasingly globalized phenomenon in which people are constantly being influenced by transnational, cross-cultural, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic interactions. The goods we buy, the work we do, the cross-cultural links we have in our own communities and outside them, and increased worldwide communication capabilities all contribute to an imperative that responsible citizens understand global and international issues. The increasing globalization in the human condition has created additional opportunities and responsibilities for individuals and groups to take personal, social, and political action in the international arena.
Global education and international education are complementary approaches with different emphases. The integration of both perspectives is imperative for students to develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for responsible participation in a democratic society and in a global community in the twenty-first century. International studies focuses on the in-depth study of a specific area or region of the world to develop knowledge and understanding of another culture. A global perspective is attentive to the interconnectedness of the human and natural environment and the interrelated nature of events, problems or ideas. An important characteristic of global studies is the analysis or problems, issues, or ideas from a perspective that deals with the nature of change and interdependence.
Approved by the NCSS board of directors, May 2001