Environmental education at local, national and global levels (Opinion)

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No question demonstrates the importance of global competence more than that of the environment; our survival depends on how the world works together to tackle issues of global warming, food security and water security. As we celebrate National Environmental Education Week, Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Director of Education, Global Oneness Project, sharing resources for environmental education at local, national and global levels.

And join Cleary and the Global Oneness Project on Twitter to discuss this important topic for #GlobalEdChat at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time this Thursday, April 21.

by guest blogger Cleary Vaughan-Lee

In his book The principle of nature: Human restoration and end of natural deficit disorderRichard Louv writes: “What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they were in technology? Studies have shown that spending time in nature affects many aspects of a child’s mental and physical well-being. But let’s not forget to ask: How would such an immersion affect the environment?

Our planet is changing rapidly and environmental awareness – or lack thereof – will play an important role in the future of our planet. Just as children need nature, nature needs children. This two-way relationship is at the heart of environmental education programs, which can be integrated into any classroom – language arts, science, math, history, and social studies – helping students connect more deeply on a global scale. , local and personal to the natural world.

How can students strengthen their own connection and responsibility for the environment? The following people, organizations, and resources provide ways for educators to integrate an interdisciplinary approach to environmental awareness from the global to the local level. At its core, the goal is to help students find their own voice as citizens of the world and stewards of this planet’s environment.

Global
Julene Reed, an international international educator, has worked with scientists, experts and organizations around the world, including Polar Bears International (PBI) and Roots and Shoots by Dr Jane Goodall. In a recent conversation, Reed articulated a basic attitude of environmental educators. She said: “It is important that educators lead our students to be globally aware of our interconnected world and to understand that what happens in one part of our planet impacts other parts of our planet. “

PBI is a conservation organization whose mission is “to inspire people to care about the Arctic, the threats to its future, and the connection between this remote region and our global climate.” Lessons, mini-courses, and student reports are available on their website, and a detailed schedule is available through the iTunes University channel..

Roots and Shoots, a global youth-led community action program, has members in more than 130 countries. The organization supports students as they initiate, lead and implement their own environmental campaigns. For example, a group of 17-18 year olds concerned about their local river in Los Angeles, coordinated a large-scale cleanup with a local organization. Take a look at their five minute video, Rivers of Peril, documenting their efforts.

Students’ curiosity about global ecosystems ultimately supports their development to become stewards of the environment, and teachers can encourage this curiosity. If students are interested in oceans, for example, teachers can use resources from Montana Digital Academy., which offers an oceanography course that teaches the “biological, physical and chemical properties of marine ecosystems” from around the world through laboratories, research projects and video field trips.

And the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a great resource that brings together free, authoritative information about all of life on Earth across over 1.9 million species pages that provide descriptions, images, sounds, videos, maps and other content licensed under Creative Commons licenses. For students and teachers, EOL also has an educational site which provides lesson plans, games and interactive tools in the context of important habitats.

national
The green school movement is gaining momentum. The movement works to reduce the environmental impact of schools, improve student health and the environmental quality of school buildings and grounds, and provide environmental education to students. In 2011, the Green Ribbon Schools rewards program was started by the US Department of Education to support green schools.

In 2014, the Green Schools Center (the Center) at the US Green Building Council (USGBC) coordinated the creation of a national action plan for sustainability education, which presents recommendations from leaders in the field for scaling up education for sustainability. Jenny Wiedower, the Kindergarten to Grade 12 manager at the Center, explained that the plan has a quick timeline for all 50 states to adopt comprehensive green school policies that include a requirement for a sustainable education degree. by 2040. This will require increased public awareness, education and action, and changes in school culture.

To support this goal, the Center created Learning Lab, a global web-based subscriber platform that provides resources on sustainable development for K-12 teachers and principals. Resources include “a comprehensive, project-based and STEM-based curriculum that fosters student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action.” A tip for teachers: Learning Lab was launched last March and offers its resources free until August 2016.

The following organizations are also dedicated to high quality environmental education and educational resources:

Local actions
Students are particularly motivated to learn and to act when they can become agents of change in their own environment. For the past four years I have attended Redwood High School sustainability festival near my home in Northern California. Created by science teacher Joe Stewart, the festival is celebrating its 10e year, pursuing its objective “to raise students’ awareness of sustainable development issues”. Students participate in a variety of activities each year, including environmental restoration, cycling to school, and local catering. Local organizations participate by offering 40 workshops over two days. Topics are relevant to multiple disciplines and include volunteering, environmental media production, cross-cultural environmental opportunities, waste issues, etc.

At last year’s festival, I screened the short film “Island of Jean Charles», Which is part of a collection on climate change of my organization, the Global Oneness Project. The film depicts a small island community in southern Louisiana that sinks due to rising sea levels. The residents are among the first official climate refugees from the United States. During a class discussion, the students discussed the pros and cons of living near the coast.

Are you looking for student-led environmental action projects? Journalist and author Suzie Boss has compiled an excellent list on Edutopia.

For English teachers who want to bring nature into the classroom, Commonlit is a great resource. It is a free, research-based digital collection of fictional and non-fiction literature for grades 5-12 students created by teachers for teachers. Two environmental themes explored on the site, man vs nature and technology, progress & industry, contain short written pieces, including “To Build A Fire” by Jack London and an excerpt from FDR’s 1936 Dust Bowl speech that led to a farm crisis. The accompanying teaching materials include writing and discussion messages based on the text.

Whether students learn about global weather conditions, ecosystems, clean up a local waterway, or read and write nature-based stories, environmental education brings staff and the global together, and helps young learners find their place. in the world. It is only by witnessing and experiencing its connection to the natural world that students can become responsible stewards of our evolving planet.

Connect with Clearly, Global unity project, heater, and Asian Society on Twitter.

Photo credit: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Film used with permission of the author.



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