Building Bridges, Not Walls: Exploring the Environmental Education Ecosystem


Building Bridges, Not Walls: Exploring the Environmental Education Ecosystem

Small seeding growing between two twisting branches over a ravine.

If you are reading this, there is a strong chance you care about making the world a better place. As academics in higher education, nonprofit professionals, and global citizens, we, too, care about the urgent, interconnected issues facing people and the planet. Strengthening the environmental education profession through enhancing its efficacy, relevance, and ability to make change in the world requires augmenting connections with related professions and disciplines, for the benefit of all.

In this article by Judy A. Braus, Joe E. Heimlich, Nicole M. Ardoin, and Charlotte R. Clark, the authors explore in depth the following concepts:

  • Defining environmental education, citing the Tbilisi Declaration which describes EE as a ‘process aimed at developing a world population that is aware of and concerned about the total environment and its associated problems.' This includes the attitudes, motivations, knowledge, commitment, and skills to work toward solutions to current problems and the prevention of new ones, both individually and collectively.
  • Identifying the foundational aspects of environmental education as well as the core outcomes to accompany this work.
  • Considering environmental education as a tapestry—Many EE approaches and programs intersect with those from other domains – such as public health, K–12 education, urban planning, social justice, and more—and, therefore, collaborate when developing avenues for social and environmental change, while still recognizing that there may be aspects of expertise and emphasis distinct to each field. This rich educational tapestry forms an ecosystem in which various fields, approaches, and adjacent disciplines share outcomes of interest.
  • Approaches for strengthening our collaborative work, such as joining professional associations at the local, regional, national, and global scales, resulting in an ongoing community of practice that includes environmental and civic educators who co-develop efforts to bridge EE and civics in ways that lift both fields.
  • Looking to the future: How might we build ‘better’ bridges? Considering environmental education as an ecosystem nurtures the opportunity and likelihood that we will take steps to create a more sustainable, equitable future for all.

Download the full article or read the online publication here.