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21 EPA J. 28 (1995)
Environmental Literacy and the College Curriculum - Colleges and Universities Have a Challenge to Meet

handle is hein.journals/epajrnl21 and id is 82 raw text is: Environmental Literacy and the

College Curriculum

by Richard Wilke

Colleges and universities have a challenge to meet

s the Associate Dean of the
College of Natural Resources at
the University of Wisconsin-
Stevens Point, I share responsibility for
the largest undergraduate natural
resources program in the country The
1,750 majors in our college can choose
among 30 different academic programs
and nearly 200 environmentally related
courses. These students are receiving
intensive environmental literacy instruc-
tion. However, they are a minority
While many institutions offer environ-
mentally related minors or majors, they
do not require even basic instruction in
environmental literacy Thus, the vast
majority of students are not enrolled in
programs focused on the environment;
most never even enroll in a general
environmental studies course. This
article focuses on reaching these students
with environmental literacy instruction.
Call to Action
Colleges and universities have been
challenged to increase their role in
developing an environmentally literate
citizenry Agenda 21, the blueprint for
action adopted by the world's leaders at
the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit,
calls for aggressive measures to
strengthen the environmental education
received by the world's citizens. (See box
on page 37.) Universities are specifically
asked to play a prominent role in
preparing citizens to analyze and resolve
environmental issues.
In a similar vein, the Council of State
Governments' 1994 book of Suggested
State Legislation includes model environ-
mental education legislation that is
recommended for adoption by state
legislatures. The model legislation states:
'Universities, colleges and vocational
(Dr. Wilke is Associate Dean of the College of
Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-
Stevens Point.)

As part of
environmental
literacy
requirements, UW-  '
Stevens Point
students gain
experience with
computer
applications.
institutions are required to implement
programs that encourage environmental
literacy and provide opportunities for
environmental stewardship among the
student population. To accomplish this,
universities are directed to implement
''an environmental studies course
requirement for all graduates, or the
development of an integrated general
education program that accomplishes
environmental literacy through its
integration in a variety of courses.
What Should Be Taught
Much has been written over the last 25
years about environmental literacy and
strategies for achieving it. In the early
1980s, Harold Hungerford from South-
ern Illinois University, Ben Peyton from
Michigan State University, and I worked
together to develop a set of environmen-
tal education instructional goals. Our
goals have been used around the world
for curriculum development and re-
search. We believe that instruction aimed
at enhancing environmental literacy
must aid citizens in becoming environ-
mentally knowledgeable and, above all,

Univesity of Wisconsin-Stevens Point photo by Doug Moore. Copfli9'ted.
skilled and dedicated to working
individually and collectively toward
achieving a dynamic equilibrium
between quality of life and quality of the
environment In other words, environ-
mental literacy needs to focus on devel-
oping responsible environmental
behavior.
Harold Hungerford and Trudi Volk
from Southern Illinois University
reviewed the pertinent literature and
concluded that we can maximize college-
level opportunities to develop respon-
sible environmental behavior if we
proceed along the following lines:
* Teach environmentally significant
ecological concepts and the environmen-
tal interrelationships implied by these
concepts.
* Provide carefully designed and in-
depth opportunities for learners to
achieve some level of environmental
sensitivity that will promote a desire to
behave in appropriate ways.
* Provide a curriculum that will result in
an in-depth knowledge of issues; that
will teach issue analysis and investiga-

EPA JOURNAL

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