I am teaching a course on EE curriculum for the first time. It is an online course so I am struggling to think of activities to engage students about EE and curriculum while online. There are just a few students, which also makes interaction harder. I would love to hear others ideas about what they teach and sources they use to teach EE curricula.
Environmental Education Curriculum Course ideas
One of my favorite introductory activities is to ask students to spend an hour outside, by themselves, not doing anything, and then to reflect on the experience. What did they notice? We are so accustomed to doing things that it can be really valuable to slow down and see what's around us before we prepare to share it with students. I would also read David Sobel's book, Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. From that, they can design lessons, activities, units, etc. based on the different design principles. I hope that helps and feel free to reach out if you have more questions.
I just taught an online course for UW-Stevens Point this summer that was called Developing Curriculum for Nonformal Environmental Educators.
Some items of note:
1) Students appreciated being exposed to materials that provided during for curricular development--e.g. the EE Materials: Guidelines for Excellence document. They selected a resource and critiqued it using the guidelines. They also compared and contrasted the guidelines to other documents that lay out goals of EE.
2) Students also seemed to get a lot out of talking to formal educators about standards. After discussing them in class and reviewing related documents, students talked to a local educator about how they use standards in their classroom.
3) In general, I think it is important in online classrooms to create a sense of community, just like you do in person.
I'm happy to share additional materials or talk further.
I'm teaching a new course here at Hampshire College called "Curriculum Design in Environmental and Sustainability Education." I'm working on the syllabus but I'll share it when I'm done. It will be in-person so it might be a bit different. Students will visit different places where non-formal EE is taught nearby, partner with one of those places, and design/pilot some EE or Sustainability curriculum. I'm blending design-based research from the Learning Sciences with EE so they get some curriculum design theory as well.
I also teach an "intro" type class in EE. During that course, students view and critique existing curricular materials and observe EE as it is being taught by seasoned EE educators. They learn a lot from these two experiences.
I know we can post items to the eePro Resources section but I wonder if we could start to amass college course syllabi. I certainly don't want to homogenize courses across institutions but seeing what other professors are teaching is a great place to start. Perhaps we can start with yours, mine and Becca's.
Good luck with your course!
Hi Tim, I would be interested in seeing your syllabus, too, if you would share. I will be developing an EE course here at CSUMB for the fall semester. I am approaching it similarly, so would love to see what you develop, and of course happy to share back when I have mine, too. Regards, Tori
I agree with you and see value in gathering and sharing our syllabi. We have a space to be able to do that within our eePRO group--you can see it to the right on the main page. It might be easiest if folks send the documents to me--that way, I can name them and organize them in a way that would make sense. Anyone who wants to share...please email me your course information (syllabus, schedule, whatever else you want to share) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori - Will do; I'm happy to share.
Becca - I'll send my syllabi your way; thanks for offering to post them.
Great! Thank you to you both, Tim and Becca! This is wonderful. I will share back when I have my syllabus done too!
I have created my syllabus, but I also wanted to share how I organized the class. I decided that students would learn a lot by reading and understanding not only the NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence, but also peer reviewed articles. I created modules on that cover several aspects important in Environmental Education. The students will learn about the importance of action in EE, environmental literacy, EE identity, significant life experiences, transformative EE, place-based EE and EE values. I felt like these topics covered the depth and breadth of much of EE and will provide students with a solid understanding of the underpinnings of EE.
WKU also offers an Intro to EE class. I am trying to differentiate what should be done in each class so that they don't overlap and students learn as much EE as possible. Students in the intro course critique EE material and look at the K-12 Guidelines for Excellence as well.
Those are all important topics students must consider when designing curriculum materials for EE. The challenge I run into is the breadth vs. depth conundrum. I teach separate, but obviously interconnected, courses on EE. My "intro" class covers the kinds of topics you list, plus, and I'd argue most importantly, aspects of critical race, gender, economic, etc. theory. I cover place-based/experiential ed through historical and critical lenses in my Critical Ped. of Place (stole the title from David Gruenewald/Greenwood) course. My curriculum design class is intended to follow the "intro" course but since that doesn't always happen, I briefly revisit those ideas. In the design class, students read primary research from both EE and learning science research, the NAAEE guidelines, and curriculum design literature (e.g., Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). My students also "design curriculum," broadly speaking, and try it with real learners. They also observe learners and EE professionals in action. Sorry for the long response. I look forward to seeing your syllabus once you're ready to post it. - Tim
Hello Group, I teach a graduate-level environmental education course at the University of Colorado Denver. Similar to Jeanine and Tim, I have incorporated some fundamentals as well as critical perspectives of environmental education and environmental identity. The course content is built around these themes: Environmental Education, Environmental Literacy and Identity, Discourses in Environmental Education, 21st Century Environmental Education, Learners and Environmental Learning, Developing and Implementing Environmental Education, and Communicating and Reflecting on Practice. The course is 100% online, with an experiential small project at the end. I am happy to share my syllabus and small project guidelines in a syllabus repository. Thanks. I hope you are having a good semester!
I love these approaches - it is what I am working on, so great to see what others are doing. I like your title better, Tim, than mine, which is just Critical EE. Hilary, I'd love to see your syllabi, too, I will be rolling out my capstone / critical EE courses in the spring/fall semesters respectively. Thank you!
Hi everyone! Such inspiring EE happening everywhere, I really appreciate the syllabi shared.
At Prescott College I teach Fundamentals of EE as well as the Env. Educator Certification course which is a collaboration with our state Affiliate. In addition, for over 30yrs our EE Methods class has done a semester practicum with 5th graders designing & facilitating place-based watershed education for the public schools. At PC we try to place social & environmental justice at the heart of our courses, so critical theory frames most topics covered.
Here's a rough outline of Fundamentals of EE:
- Autoethnographical study of our cultural & ecological identity
- Internal/external examinations of values & ethics in EE (& implicit bias)
- Philosophical roots (indigenous pedagogy as well as the euro/amerocentric narratives)
- U.S. & international historical outline (role of the UN, NGOs, state & federal gov., etc.)
- "The Backlash" from 80's & Wise Use rhetoric to the past & current EE criticisms here in Arizona
- "New Nature Movement" with Sobel & Louv's work with place-based & nature-based methodologies
- NAAEE Guidelines & Developmentally Appropriate Practice - we evaluate curriculum & materials
- The deep importance & methods of Environmental Justice, ESD, Urban EE, Multicultural EE
- School garden, green schools, & access to green space
- We create lesson plans & program proposals & practice aligning standards while emphasizing critical place-based & inclusive design
- We also are mentor scientists for Project WET, volunteer with Service to All Our Relations (STAR) School, help out with a local school garden program, connect with the Urban Restoration Ecology program at Changemaker High School and Manzo Elementary's project-based ecology program in Tuscon.
I will also see if I can share the syllabi for these 3 courses. Thanks again everyone!
I don't know if there is already a plan for folks interested in this topic to gather at NAAEE-RS, but chime in if you'll be there so we can try to purposefully gather or so we can find each other randomly to talk about these ideas.
I will be there. I arrive on around 1pm on Oct 8 and leave Oct 11 around noon.
Good idea, Tim! I'd love to get together and talk about this. There's already a lot of brown bag lunch & dinner/evening meetings scheduled almost the entire week. I think a coffee/breakfast gathering would be ideal if someone wants to work on coordinating?
I am sorry that I won't be there this year. . . Happy gathering!
Yes, let's get together. I hope you can make it to one or both of the following:
1) Higher Education group eePRO brown bag-- 1-2pm, Friday, October 12, in 402A of the Spokane Convention Center. Let's talk about how to make this group be the best that it can be!
2) Coffee/breakfast to continue the discussion in this thread -- 7-8:30am (sessions start at 8:30--stop in when you can), Thursday, October 11, at the restaurant in the Doubletree by Hilton that is attached to the Convention Center.
Additionally, I'm working on a listing of sessions related to higher education--I'll post once it is finished!
I am looking forward to meeting those of you who are attending the conference. I will definitely plan on joining any Higher Education gatherings and sessions. Thank you and safe travels!
Hello everyone - For those going to the conference, I'll be hosting an Author's Table at the Opening Reception on Wednesday night from 5-6:30 in Exhibit Hall A.
Please stop by to say 'hi!' and I can share more about my novel Tree Dreams and the ancillary global tree tagging campaign that has been adapted for the classroom.
I have provided links with more information below, but Tree Dreams: A Novel is suited for high school and college EE, science, English, of interdisciplinary classes. The tree tagging campaign is used in K-college classrooms and a recent grant has allowed me to create free, standards-aligned lesson plans available at treedreams.net.
Thank you for sharing your important EE work. I look forward to meeting you all!
Best, Kristin Kaye