Why the links with environmental education and citizenship

It is generally accepted by government and society that education about, for and through the environment is an essential requirement for the survival of humanity. We don't have to look far to hear the call for a more environmentally literate workforce and a more environmentally aware public. Yet over the past two decades environmental education has been progressively marginalised from the school curriculum - perhaps even more so during the evolution of the National Curriculum. With the advent of personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship within the National Curriculum, environmental education seems to have found its niche under the term 'Sustainable futures and the global dimension'. This emphasises the important relationship between environmental concerns and global issues. The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority (QCDA) recognises sustainability as a whole-school curriculum and management approach, not a new subject, and recognises that its roots are in environmental and (world) development education. However, being able to translate the rhetoric of 'sustainable futures' into practice with a view to altering attitudes and behaviour requires more than exposure: it requires relevance and understanding. To achieve this it is necessary for pupils to look at the underlying principles, which are often rooted in science (see Box 3.1).

Box 3.1 Misconceptions about climate change

Climate change and global warming are key environmental topics that contain their own collection of misconceptions. Try answering these questions:

■ Is the greenhouse effect a natural or human-induced phenomenon (or both)?

■ What is the difference between carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and those from burning biomass?

■ Does the hole in the ozone layer let heat in to cause global warming?

(See Box 3.3 at the end of the chapter (p. 28) for comments on these questions.)

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