In in a crowded conference room in Washington, D. The purpose of the meeting was to begin the exciting process of developing a strategy for incorporating environmental education into all Peace Corps training. Since then, environmental education has surfaced as a major initiative for all Peace Corps programming in the '90s.
Why the focus on environmental education? At present, more than 5. In every corner of the world people are cutting forests, extracting minerals and energy supplies, eroding topsoil, polluting the air and water, creating hazardous waste, and disrupting natural areas at a rate unprecedented in the history of life on earth.
As the pressures from overpopulation and development increase, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to provide for their needs and wants. It is also becoming impossible to escape the consequence of severe environmental degradation: species extinction, spreading deserts, pesticide contamination, increasing public health problems, starvation, poverty, and loss of human life.
Many experts fear that if the current rate of destruction continues, we will see the gradual breakdown of the very systems that support life on earth. Sustainable development allows natural resources to regenerate. For example, many indigenous people have practiced the sustainable slash-and-burn agriculture in tropical forests for thousands of years. Environmental education is a process aimed at improving the quality of life by empowering people with the tools they need to solve and prevent environmental problems. Environmental education can help people gain the knowledge, skills, motivation, values, and without destroying the commitment they'll need to manage the earth's resources sustainable and to take responsibility for maintaining environmental quality.
The Peace Corps, in recognizing the importance of environmental education and the necessity of providing comprehensive training and support, has taken the initiative to sponsor sound and effective environmental education programming around the world. Through workshops, materials development, and collaborative efforts with other agencies and organizations in the U.
Our goal in writing this manual is to help Peace Corps Volunteers PCVs and their counterparts working in schools develop strategies for creating effective environmental education programs.
Whether you work with preschoolers or secondary students, rural or urban audiences, community-based education, or teacher training institutes, you can incorporate environmental education into your primary and secondary activities. And contrary to what many people think, environmental education is not tied solely to the science curriculum.
It cuts across all subject areas, including business, economics, language arts, history, social studies, and the humanities. Although this manual focuses mainly on school-based environmental education, much of the information also applies to nonformal and community-based education programs. Children are an important audience for environmental education because they are tomorrow's leaders and resource users. And in some cases children can influence parents and other community members.
Volunteers and educators who work in or with schools and other educational institutions can have a tremendous impact, from increasing awareness and knowledge to helping form attitudes and facilitate action projects on behalf of the environment. It is also very important to recognize that women worldwide are the primary users of environmental resources, and that an effective environmental education program must be appropriate for female students and must have the support and buy-in from women in the community.
And it's important to realize that there's no one right way to "do" environmental education. As you can see from the table of contents, this manual focuses on a variety of topics relating to successful environmental education efforts, including teaching strategies, funding, evaluation, and activity development. But we don't tell you what to teach in this manual. Instead, we hope to provide you with information and ideas to help you develop the programs that are most appropriate to your community and to your own situation, abilities, and interests.
We encourage you to use this book as a starting point to help you structure a program that works best for you, and to adapt the activities and strategies suggested Peace and survival of life on here to fit your needs. We'd also appreciate feedback from you. Please let us know how we can improve this manual and what successes or setbacks you've had in implementing environmental education programs.
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The latter is a creative and practical look at many aspects of nonformal education, including a guide to planning, evaluation, materials development, and adult learning. Finally, we think it's important to mention the biases that we bring to this manual. We feel environmental problems are urgent and need to be addressed by the global community and that education needs to be an integral part of the solution.
Conflicting opinions about the state of the environment, the consequences of environmental degradation, and the role of education make good subjects for discussion and debate. But we also feel that environmental education should not "brainwash" people into thinking a certain way: our hope is that it can help people learn how to think - including how to solve problems, make decisions, weigh options, and align values with personal actions.
As an educator, you possess the power to change lives and serve as role models for your colleagues and future Volunteers We wish you much success and look forward to hearing from you. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and a lack of respect for the Earth's living things It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past, which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations..
Clearly this is a pivotal generation Our marvels of science and technology are matched if not outweighed by many current tragedies, including human starvation in some parts of the world, and extinction of other life forms We have the capability and responsibility.
We must act before it is too late. In the late s, Peace Corps Volunteers working as science teachers planted the "seeds of conservation" by teaching environmental education to teachers and conservation professionals at the National University and the National School of Forestry. Many of their former students now form the professional backbone of Honduras's environmental movement, both in the government and the private sector.
Today, Peace Corps Volunteers are continuing their environmental education activities by taking part in a variety of Ministry and NGO initiatives designed to improve environmental quality and manage resources sustainably. For example, Education and Environment Volunteers are working to institutionalize environmental education programs in 12 primary school Teacher Training Institutions.
More than students graduate from these schools each year. In addition, Volunteers are helping to revise the natural science, social studies, and community development curricula and are helping to design a new environmental education curriculum. Volunteers, working side-by-side with host country counterparts, have also helped organize a variety of training workshops and seminars at the national, regional, and local levels for host country officials, leaders, teachers, and NGO staff They've also helped produce and distribute environmental education materials and visual aids, including the Manual de Education Ambiental produced by the Environmental Education Teachers' Group and the Manual on Coral Reef Conservation produced by the Bay Islands Conservation Association.
In addition, Volunteers are using environmental education to educate children, teens and community members living in buffer zones of 20 priority protected areas. What is environmental education?
One generation plants trees Volunteers in Fiji organize an adopt-a-beach program to help clean up litter. In Hungary, Volunteers teaching English prepare lesson plans focusing on air pollution. Students in Tanzania organize a tree-planting program to help reclaim the land. And in Ecuador, Volunteers work with counterparts to help students learn how to protect crops without using pesticides. All of these are examples of environmental education at work.
The goals of environmental education efforts around the world are similar--to maintain and improve environmental quality and to prevent future environmental problems. In part, environmental education is information education, increasing student knowledge about the environment. Students learn about global warming, solid waste, and other environmental problems; they learn about ecology and how the world "works"; they learn about the consequences of environmental degradation; and they learn about their role in creating and preventing environmental problems.
Environmental education also increases awareness about issues and an understanding of personal values by digging into attitudes and beliefs and helping students evaluate and clarify their feelings about the environment and how they contribute to environmental problems.
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It helps individuals understand that there are conflicting values among people and that these conflicts must be addressed to ultimately prevent and solve environmental problems. Environmental education is also practical education: how to plant a tree, how to apply pesticides carefully, and how to plant crops to lessen environmental damage.
And finally, environmental education stresses citizen action skills--from writing an effective letter to lobbying village councils, local and state governments, and national and international organizations. Environmental education has been evolving for many years. It got a big push in , when representatives at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden recommended that the UN establish an international environmental education program. In , representatives from member nations met in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, to outline the basic definition and goals of environmental education.
Then in , representatives from more than 60 nations gathered in Tbilisi in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia for a follow-up to Belgrade. Delegates to these two international conferences ratified the following definition of environmental education, as well as a set of objectives see below.
Environmental education is "a process aimed at developing a world population that is aware of and concerned about, the total environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, attitudes, skills, motivation, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones. AWARENESS: Help students acquire an awareness and sensitivity to the total environment and its problems; develop the ability to perceive and discriminate among stimuli; process, refine, and extend these perceptions; and use this new ability in a variety of contexts.
KNOWLEDGE: Help students acquire a basic understanding of how the environment functions, how people interact with the environment, and how issues and problems dealing with the environment arise and how they can be resolved.
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ATTITUDES: Help students acquire a set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation and commitment to participate in environmental maintenance and improvement. SKILLS: Help students acquire the skills needed to identify and investigate environmental problems and to contribute to the resolution of these problems. Participation: Help students acquire experience in using their acquired knowledge and skills in taking thoughtful, positive actions toward the resolution of environmental issues and problems. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development.
The Tbilisi Declaration is a good starting point for thinking about what an ideal environmental education program should include. Since Tbilisi, environmental educators have been trying to take the recommendations one step farther by specifying what it is that makes a person environmentally literate.
As in other disciplines, developing literacy criteria for environmental education has been a struggle. For example, what makes a person scientifically literate? How about culturally literate?
And now, environmentally literate? Environmental educators have been grappling with this last question for more than a decade.