The following text is a press release from the National Council for Science and the Environment. Press release with contact information
The task force represents a coordinated, Administration-wide approach to foster and strengthen environmental education (EE) activities in the federal government. It will help agencies to leverage EE resources, identify opportunities for collaboration and better coordinate with stakeholders.
The Task Force is chaired by the Deputy Administrator of the EPA and the Deputy Secretaries of Education and Interior and includes the Deputy leaders of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Labor, Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Small Business Administration, National Science Foundation, NASA, Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Blockstein urged the Task Force to take a broad view of environmental education that advances sustainable development and links with the issues of economy, security, energy, health, and climate change. Noting that there was a role for every agency, Blockstein declared that with appropriate education:
Every job can be a green job
Everyone can be a green consumer
Every home can be a green home
Dr. Blockstein reported on the rapid growth of Interdisciplinary Environmental and Sustainability Education at the college and university level. Climate and Energy Education is also starting to rise (as are global temperatures and sea level). However, quoting the late Ray Anderson, the average college student still graduates oblivious to the realities of a finite Earth.(speech at 2003 NCSE National Conference: Education for a Sustainable and Secure Future).
At the high school level, Environmental Sciences is fastest growing advanced placement (AP) course school, a lack of qualified teachers is a limiting factor.
Blockstein encouraged the agencies to look at environmental education in the context of:
technology providing more opportunities for self-directed learning;
increased scholarship on how people learn and best practices in teaching;
the Essential Principles of Literacy for Oceans, Earth, Climate, and Energy
the Next Generation Science Standards to be finalized in 2013.
Dr. Blockstein encouraged the federal government to take on big goals for the next decade:
Every Federal Worker understands the most important environmental issues in context of their own work;
Every Citizen and Resident understands the most important environmental issues in context of their own work and consumer behavior;
Every School is a Green School (meets standards of Green Ribbon School).
He noted that all of these actions will contribute to building a Green Economy and remarked that diversity remains a huge challenge in environmental education and in STEM education.
Dr. Blockstein presented Task Force members with the NCSE report - Environmental Research and Education Needs: An Agenda for a New Administration (2008). The report is a compilation of recommendations from thousands of educators, scientists, policymakers and other citizens from the first decade of NCSE National Conferences on Science, Policy and the Environment. He stated that the second term of the Obama Administration is an opportunity to move forward on the specific recommendations contained in this report.
Recognizing that the last time the federal government tried a coordinated effort on EE was 1993, Dr. Blockstein noted that an entire generation has been born and graduated from high school since this time. He urged that much more be done in the next generation.