Proposed syllabus for a course in Environmental Education

Course Objectives: This course is designed specifically for upper level undergraduate students enrolled in either the environmental studies program or the Rossier School of Education.  However, students from other programs may benefit from the course because the content is interdisciplinary by nature. The course aims to familiarize future educators, administrators, planners and researchers with concepts in environmental education.  The course reviews various types of environmental education, learning theories that relate to environmental education, methodological approaches to environmental education and research that that has been done on environmental education.  In addition, the course will be structured with a secondary objective to help students develop critical thinking skills that will prepare them for graduate level courses or jobs in the field of environmental education.


Course Readings:

1) Palmer, Joy A. (1998). Environmental Education in the 21st Century. New York:


2) Park, Patricia D., Blackman, Deborah A. and Chong, Gin. (Eds,1998). Environmental  

     Education and Training. Aldersho, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

3) Course reader.

4) Suggested readings and videos will be placed on reserve in Leavey Library.



Week 1-Introduction

·        Course overview

·        Defining environmental education- In class  writing assignment:  Students spend 10-15 minutes writing a definition of environmental education.  This is followed by 10 minutes of group work in which students discuss what they wrote.

·        Lecture: History and development of environmental education (Chapter 1, Palmer). Key events timeline; milestones of the 70s; Tbilisi recommendations, Consolidation in the 1980s; Rio and beyond; Prospects for the 21st century.

Assignments:  1) Journal #1-Write a one page explanation of your personal goals for the course. 2) Read Part 1 in Palmer (pp.3-34) 3) Read excerpts from Milbrath, Bowers, Lovelock and Orr in course reader.

Suggested readings(on reserve): The Tbilisi Report; Beyond Rio readings


Week 2- Philosophies related to environmental education

·        Lovelock and Gaia

·        Bower-principles of environmental education

·        Milbrath- a new social paradigm

·        Orr-“All education is environmental education.”

·        Possible group problem- “daisey world” or Easter Island problem.

Assignments: 1) Journal # 2-reaction to Orr’s quote, 2) Read Palmer, Part II, pp. 35-82.  




Week 3- The Global Agenda

·        Issues

·        Development and the environment

·        Impacts and causes

·        The role of education

·        Group work- Local vs. global perspectives


Assignments:  1)Journal #3-How does law relate to environmental education? 2) Read Part I Park, Blackman & Chong  (pp. 1-40).


Week 4- The Local Agenda

·        Environmental issues in Southern California

·        Local environmental Campaigns (Heal the Bay,


Week 5 – Environmental laws and legislation

·        Environmental legal education

·        Legal controls vs. consciousness raising campaigns

·        Group work “hypothetical case” discussions

Assignments:  1) Journal #4- Explain how a particular learning theory is appropriate to describe any type of environmental education. 2) Read excerpts on learning theories in course reader. 3) Visit learning theory websites.

*Paper topic and outline due. Students are encouraged to schedule a conference to discuss their topics with the instructor.


Week 6-Learning theories

·        Group work-students share their journal assignments on learning theories in small groups

·        Behaviorism

·        Social cognitive learning

·        Experiential learning

·        Acquisition vs. learning

·        Organizational learning

Assignments: 1) Journal # 5 – students write about what sustainable development means in their lives. 2) Read Palmer, Part III, pp. 83-132. 3) Read selected readings on research in course reader.


Week 7-Theory and research in environmental education

·        Sustainable development and politics

·        Environmental improvement

·        Educational practice

·        Trends in environmental education

Assignments: 1)Read Palmer, Parts IV and V (pp. 131-232), 2) Continue working on papers/projects.


Week 8- Environmental education: Structure and practice.

·        Nine components of education for the environment

·        Integrated model for structuring environmental education

·        Intetgrated model vs. distinct visions

Assignments: 1)Journal #6 - Compare and contrast two environmental education programs. 2) Readings in course reader on nonformal education and education in protected areas. 3) Read Park et al., pp. 65-73; 82-91; 101-121.


 Week 9 --Environmental Education in Schools

·        Examples worldwide

·        EE in California schools


Week 10- Nonformal environmental education

·        Community-based education

·        Protected areas and reserves

·        Environmental organizations and learning

·        Environmental education in the workplace

·        Group work- students share their responses to journals #6.


*Progress report on the final paper due.  Students are encouraged to schedule a second conference with the instructor to discuss challenges and progress of the term paper/ project.


Week 11

The role of distance education in environmental education

·        Instructional technology

·        Computers and the internet in EE

·        Limitations of technology



Week 12

Government campaigns

·        Whose responsible for EE?

·        How do we know we are getting the truth?


Week 13- Media Campaigns-Truth or lies


Week 14 April 20

Student presentations


Week 15 April 27

Student presentations

*Final drafts of final papers due.  No exceptions.


Course Format: Most weeks will consist of a “mini” lecture followed by student discussion and/or group work.  There will be a fair amount of group work that involves generating ideas and problem solving.  Some weeks, individual students will give informal presentations on the assigned readings. Homework assignments and journal topics will be discussed.  There will be some email communication to promote sharing of interesting websites, articles and general information.


Course requirements and assesment:

·        Attendance and class participation- 15%

(This includes at least one informal presentation of the readings.)

·        Journals- 15% 

·        Envi portfolio   

·        Literature review paper 50%

·        Final presentation 20%


Useful websites

American Society for Environmental History

Environmental news Network

North American Association for Environmental education

The Electronic Green Journal

Environmental Ethics search engine

Los Angeles--A City in Stress

A forum for new ideas in environmental research