WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION?
Environmental education (EE) may best be defined as a process directed at creating awareness and understanding about environmental issues that leads to responsible individual and group actions.
Successful environmental education focuses on processes that promote critical thinking, problem solving, and effective decision-making skills. Environmental education utilizes processes that involve students in observing, measuring, classifying, experimenting, and other data gathering techniques. These processes assist students in discussing, inferring, predicting, and interpreting data about environmental issues.
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL LITERACY?
An environmentally literate person as someone who, both individually and together with others, makes informed decisions concerning the environment; is willing to act on these decisions to improve the well being of other individuals, societies, and the global environment; and participates in civic life. Those who are environmentally literate possess, to varying degrees:
The knowledge and understanding of a wide range of environmental concepts, problems, and issues;
A set of cognitive and affective dispositions;
A set of cognitive skills and abilities; and
The appropriate behavioral strategies to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make sound and effective decisions in a range of environmental contexts.
Environmental information is providing facts about specific environmental issues or problems. This may be accomplished through news releases, informational brochures, bulletins, videos, or other media techniques. It is often geared toward the general public instead of targeting a specific group or audience. Information can be very useful to the highly motivated individual who is concerned about a specific topic or issue and can be a critical element of environmental education.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IS NOT ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IS NOT ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY
Quality environmental education concentrates on the educational process. It is unbiased and science-based. Environmental educators may consider themselves environmental advocates in their personal lives. However, in their role as environmental educator they must remain neutral; there is no room for personal beliefs to take center stage. It is important for environmental educators to remember which role they are in when working with an audience.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ARE COMPLEX
Environmental problems and issues are usually complex and there are not always simple answers. Often there are many possible solutions or no obvious solution at all. It is through the processes of quality environmental education that students can sort through the frequently biased, emotional, and propagandized elements of environmental issues, weighing various sides of an issue in order to make informed, balanced, and responsible decisions.