Introduction to EE


Introduction to EE

Course overview

Learn about environmental education foundations and approaches—including place-based education, nature and adventure education, climate change education, and environmental action in schools and non-formal settings—through pre-recorded lectures, readings, and case studies. Participants can form local groups to take the course together, form bilingual groups to help participants with limited English, or try out new media like Comic Life to get their educational message across. You will apply research-based knowledge to start new or enhance existing environmental education programs, strengthen your professional networks by exchanging ideas and resources with peer educators around the world, and gain professional credentials.

Participants: Beginning and aspiring environmental educators, including teachers, nonformal educators, environmental or park managers, zoo or botanic garden educators, volunteers, and university students. This course can also support ongoing professional development of more experienced environmental educators. Available to students in any country. Materials are in English with Chinese translations.

Cost: Regular fee $50. Nearly all students pay the $50 fee. Some course participants are able to pay more and sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students who are not able to take the course because of the fee use the options of  paying a smaller fee or taking the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.

Certificates: To receive Cornell certificate, participants must: (1) respond to ALL FOURweekly discussion board questions, (2) post at least two comments for other participants in each week, and (3) complete the final project — absolutely no later than by the last day of the course (December 10, 2018). After the last day of the course, assignments absolutely cannot be accepted.

Educational approach: The course is based on three principles: (1) Learning is social: we learn effectively within a social context, thus networking and exchange of ideas among participants is crucial; (2) Learning can lead to innovation: course participants can work together building on the course materials to develop new ideas for environmental education; and (3) Learning can foster practice change: we will discuss how course ideas and new ideas emerging in this course can be implemented in real environmental education programs. The course will use the edX edge learning management system and optional groups on Facebook and WeChat to facilitate idea and resource exchange.

Learning outcomes

Through this course, you will:

  • Understand theories, terminology, and history that define environmental education.
  • Compare and contrast various environmental education approaches.
  • Expand your network of environmental educators to support your future projects.
  • Produce activity plans appropriate for your current or future educational programs.

Course instructors: Marianne Krasny, Alex Kudryavtsev, and Yue Li (Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab)

Dates: November 6 – December 10, 2018 Course includes 4 weeks of content (approximately 4 hours of work per week), plus one week to complete the required final project (lesson plans or activity plans).

Course outline:

  • Foundations of Environmental Education. In Week 1, we introduce the course and environmental education, and students introduce themselves and their work or studies.
  • Formal and Nonformal Environmental Education. In Week 2, we focus on environmental education approaches as defined by where the program takes place. Formal environmental education takes place in K-12 schools while nonformalenvironmental education is provided by museums, botanical gardens, zoos, nature centers, libraries, after-school clubs, communities centers, camps, and other out-of-school settings.
  • Place-Based and Nature-Based Education. This week we review place-based education, as well as nature-based, residential and adventure programs. These programs can happen in both wild/rural and urban areas.
  • Climate Change and Environmental Action. This week we focus on climate change education, and education that fosters collective environmental action.
  • Final Project. Course participants will design lesson plans or activity plans for their own or other EE programs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Course email When you email us, please always start the subject of your email with “Intro EE” so that we can find your message.
  • What are community groups? Community groups are groups of course participants who are interested in specific EE topics, or come from specific regions, or want to discuss course materials in a language other than English. You can create a community group within this course, and recruit some course participants in it. Some course groups create their own Facebook groups or WeChat groups.
  • Why do you have different fees? Nearly all students pay the $50 fee, for which we are grateful. Some course participants are able to pay more (e.g., $100) to sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students who are absolutely unable to pay because of economic hardship can pay a smaller fee or taking the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.
  • If I pay $100 to sponsor another student, can I link with the student I sponsor? No, we keep who pays and who doesn’t pay anonymous. However, you will be able to connect with students from many different countries through the course discussion board and social media.
  • Can I sponsor more than one student? Yes, we would be grateful for your support of other students, especially in developing countries, who otherwise cannot afford paying for this course.
  • How long is the course? This is a 5-week course, and it requires about 4 hours of work per week. All required learning materials are offered asynchronously. Only optional webinars are synchronous, and they are recorded in case if you prefer to watch at another time.
  • Can I submit the final project in my native language? We strongly encourage you to submit all assignments in English so that instructors and other students can give you feedback. We also accept and give feedback on assignments submitted in Chinese and Spanish.
  • How will I receive course certificates? If you fulfilled the course requirements, you will receive your PDF course certificate within one month after the end of the course.
  • What social media are used in this course? We use an optional Facebook group and WeChat group where students and instructors share ideas and resources. Participants gain a great deal from exchanging ideas and resources and “meeting” fellow students and instructors on social media. However, participating in social media is not required to earn a certificate. Only course participants can be part of this Facebook group. Do NOT invite your friends or colleagues to this group. You can participate in both the Facebook and WeChat group (WeChat is mostly in Chinese).
  • Which languages are used in the course? Readings and lectures are in English. We include Chinese, Spanish, and English subtitles for many lectures. We have Chinese TAs who provide additional support for Chinese speakers.
  • Can I share course materials with my colleagues and friends? You are NOT allowed to share, copy, distribute, or forward any readings from this course. They are only for your own learning. All readings in this course are copyright protected, and nobody is permitted to share them outside this course. Course syllabus cannot be shared. You are welcome to share your learning experiences and course projects with your colleagues and friends.