Environmental literacy is a collective product of all the disciplinary literacy pieces we discuss in education. Watershed literacy is an expression of environmental literacy framed within the context of watershed boundaries, making exploration place based and relatable to both teachers and students.
Achieving environmental literacy combines awareness of issues and phenomena, related content knowledge, problem solving and analysis skills from all disciplines from the arts and the humanities, to social studies, and onto the sciences that help us explore all of the earth’s systems.
Environmental Literacy and Environmental Education Defined
“An environmentally literate person1 is someone who, both individually and together with others, makes informed decisions concerning the environment; is willing to act on these decisions to improve the well-being of other individuals, societies, and the global environment; and participates in civic life. Those who are environmentally literate possess, to varying degrees, the knowledge and understanding of a wide range of environmental concepts, problems, and issues; a set of cognitive and affective dispositions; a set of cognitive skills and abilities; and the appropriate behavioral strategies to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make sound and effective decisions in a range of environmental concepts.”
“Environmental Education2 is a process that helps individuals, communities, and organizations learn more about the environment, develop skills to investigate their environment and to make intelligent, informed decisions about how they can help take care of it.”
To learn more about the Benefits of Environmental Education for K-12 Students and other great resources please visit the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). You can join the eePRO network for free!
Statutes and Initiatives
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Education Act of 1993
- Pennsylvania Academic Standards (see Environment and Ecology; Science and Technology)
- Chesapeake Watershed Agreement
- NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence: To ensure that your school or organization is following best practices in EE you can review NAAEE’s Guidelines for Excellence. Developed by diverse teams of professionals the guidelines series includes: Community Engagement, Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs, Nonformal Environmental Education Programs, Environmental Education Materials, K-12 Environmental Education, and Professional Development for Environmental Educators guidelines.
1Hollweg, K. S., Taylor, J. R., Bybee, R. W., Marcinkowski, T. J., McBeth, W. C., & Zoido, P. (2011). Developing a framework for assessing environmental literacy. Washington, DC: North American Association for Environmental Education.
2NAAEE (nd) About EE and Why it Matters.
Environmental Literacy Plans and Resources
- Pennsylvania Environmental Literacy Plan
- Pennsylvania Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Planning Tool For LEA/District/School/Building (TEMPLATE)
- Bay Backpack