Environmental education might bring to mind thoughts of younger children exploring nature, but college students are also engaged with the environment in many different ways. They take coursework in environmental studies, go on field investigations, organize campus sustainability programs and environmental clubs, prepare for future careers, participate in outdoor recreation, and share concerns about the health of the planet they've inherited. EEA advocates for all college and technical school students to have a chance to explore environmental careers; for all future educators to be prepared to teach any subject through an environmental lens; and for all people to continue connecting with nature and learning about the environment throughout their lives.
Preparation of Future Environmental Educators
66 Georgia colleges offer teaching degrees. With almost 1000 education majors at Kennesaw State University alone, where the Bagwell College of Education is the largest such program in the state; and more than 7,200 education majors statewide, EEA's hope is that these future teachers appreciate the role they can play in teaching any subject through an environmental lens. In addition, many graduates in science content areas and non-formal educators (e.g. naturalists, park rangers, interpreters, etc.) may eventually practice environmental education. Their capacity to engage future students in real-world science investigations and problem-solving will go a long way toward convincing the next generation that they can make a difference.
Environmental Education Alliance encourages and supports pre-service educators with a certification program, conference, symposia, workshops, webinars, educational materials, and a special low-cost student "Nymph" membership, which provides access to additional resources. For more information on colleges in Georgia with "environmental education" majors or minors , check out this database.
Sustainability on Campus / Environmental Justice in Communities
College students are organizing campus sustainability initiatives, recycling or environmental clubs, STEM festivals, and innovation incubators for environmental problem-solving. Meanwhile other young adults are serving communities through AmeriCorps, Vista and Greening Youth Foundation: working toward conservation careers, increasing food security, creating healthy communities, and introducing children to environmental education. EEA recognizes the efforts of these twenty-somethings who are making a significant impact in Georgia communities.
Environmental Literacy Requirements for Graduation
University of Georgia is one of the few colleges in the country that requires an environmental literacy course for all undergrad students to graduate. A recent assessment revealed widespread acceptance of this requirement but confusion and debate over which courses should be allowed to satisfy it. In the twenty-seven years since UGA's environmental literacy requirement was put in place, there have been changes in leadership and in the policy's perceived value. However, it remains an innovative model for other universities in Georgia and across the country.
To learn more about the ELR, check out this following abstract of an article published in the The Journal of Environmental Education, and this list of courses that satisfy the environmental literacy requirement.
Abstract: The University of Georgia (UGA) is one of the first universities in the United States to require that every undergraduate student complete an environmental literacy requirement (ELR). The ELR has been in place since 1993. Three students examined the ELR through formal and informal studies and surveys. Their results showed that students were enthusiastic about the ELR and that they welcomed increased knowledge about the environment. Faculty thought that the ELR was useful but were dissatisfied with the criteria defining environmental literacy. The studies showed that there was wide interest and acceptance of an ELR but that lack of coordination and leadership has resulted in debate about its role in the institution. Although debate threatens the survival of this special requirement, modest changes in the ELR will likely save it. The experiences of UGA will be of value to other academic institutions contemplating a broad environmental requirement.
Citation: Moody, Gwyneth & Alkaff, Huda & Garrison, Dawn & Golley, Frank. (2005). Assessing the Environmental Literacy Requirement at the University of Georgia. The Journal of Environmental Education. 36. 3-9. 10.3200/JOEE.36.4.3-9.