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Environmental education (EE) refers to organized efforts to teach how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably. It is a multi-disciplinary field integrating disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography. The term often implies education within the school system, from primary to post-secondary. However, it sometimes includes all efforts to educate the public and other audiences, including print materials, websites, media campaigns, etc..
Environmental Education (EE) is the teaching of individuals, and communities, in transitioning to a society that is knowledgeable of the environment and its associated problems, aware of the solutions to these problems, and motivated to solve them . The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that EE is vital in imparting an inherent respect for nature amongst society and in enhancing public environmental awareness. UNESCO emphasises the role of EE in safeguarding future global developments of societal quality of life (QOL), through the protection of the environment, eradication of poverty, minimization of inequalities and insurance of sustainable development (UNESCO, 2014a).
Environmental education focuses on:
1. Engaging with citizens of all demographics to;
2. Think critically, ethically, and creatively when evaluating environmental issues;
3. Make educated judgments about those environmental issues;
4. Develop skills and a commitment to act independently and collectively to sustain and enhance the environment; and,
5. To enhance their appreciation of the environment; resulting in positive environmental behavioural change (Bamberg & Moeser, 2007; Wals et al., 2014).
Environmental education has crossover with multiple other disciplines. These fields of education complement environmental education yet have unique philosophies.
While each of these educational fields has their own objectives, there are points where they overlap with the intentions and philosophy of environmental education.
The roots of environmental education can be traced back as early as the 18th century when Jean-Jacques Rousseau stressed the importance of an education that focuses on the environment in Emile: or, On Education. Several decades later, Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born naturalist, echoed Rousseau’s philosophy as he encouraged students to “Study nature, not books.” These two influential scholars helped lay the foundation for a concrete environmental education program, known as nature study, which took place in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
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