Questions and Answers

1. What does environmental education mean to you, i.e. definition?
I view environmental education as primarily needing to provide students/ citizens with an emotional and ethical relationship or responsibility to all living organisms and the planet Earth. Education on environmental processes and the interaction of humans and the environment is important but in my view secondary. Without appropriate values, education becomes school activities unconnected to each individual's real life and personal responsibilities. My hope is that environmental education helps develop caring and responsible citizens that seek to live in harmony with the Earth and in doing such understand the need to be scientifically literate and in constant pursuit of better understanding of the interrelated nature of life on Earth and Earth itself.
2. Who should deliver environmental education?
Environmental education is essential to the continual survival of the human species. All citizens must accept a role of responsible environmental stewardship of the planet. Without a significant number of citizens taking this responsibility, in a manner similar to the responsibility most people take for their personal health, no single organization can provide a delivery system of environmental education that will be successful. Groups of educators, politicians, business people, and many other groups must be involved in educating all of us in this important endeavor.
3. Who should be the audience for environmental education?
Absolutely everybody.
4. What are the barriers to delivering environmental education?
Believing that one person doesn't and can't make a difference.
Understanding the difference one person can or can't make a difference.
Lack of a citizenry that is mathematically and scientifically literacy.
Misconceptions of large and small.
Not understanding number value how insignificant small amounts for a population of millions results in a significantly large number.
How small amounts of some things are insignificant, and small amounts of other things aren't.
Gullible or ignorant citizenry that believe politicians, media, businesses, and other groups that distort or lie about environmental issues because of greed and lack of ethical responsibility or in good faith to protect the planet Earth.
5. What resources are needed to do environmental education?
Monetary, intellectual, cultural, social, and ethical: Environmental education must permeate all threads of our culture. We must study everything we do on Earth from a multidisciplinary and ethically responsible perspective. We must understand the consequences of what we choose to do or not do and learn to err on the side of caution instead of waiting for significant proof that certain actions cause catastrophes. Until we have a significant plurality of citizens that understand and actively recycle, conserve, monitor environments, continually seek to understand interrelationships in our world and how changes impact all, demand that governments accept more responsibility in the care of our world and accepting responsibility for the affects their decisions can have on the Earth, more civic engagement, are better educated, and accept the need for life-long learning, we will not have environmental education that will make any bigger difference than what we have today. Some activities require little more than money to purchase books or to travel. Mostly environmental education requires people with enough resources to develop self-efficacy and a desire to learn how best to care for other people, living organisms, and the environment they depend on for a quality life.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©