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Environmental literacy, ecological literacy, ecoliteracy: What do we mean and how did we get here?


McBride, B. B.; Brewer, C. A.; Berkowitz, A. E.; Borrie, W. T. 2013. Environmental literacy, ecological literacy, ecoliteracy: What do we mean and how did we get here? Ecosphere. 4(5): Article 67.

Numerous scholars have argued that the terms environmental literacy, ecological literacy, and ecoliteracy have been used in so many different ways and/or are so all-encompassing that they have very little useful meaning. However, despite the seemingly arbitrary and, at times, indiscriminate use of these terms, tremendous efforts have in fact been made to explicitly define and delineate the essential components of environmental literacy, ecological literacy, and ecoliteracy, and to firmly anchor their characterizations in deep theoretical and philosophical foundations. A driving purpose behind these ongoing conversations has been to advance complete, pedagogy-guiding, and broadly applicable frameworks for these ideals, allowing for standards and assessments of educational achievement to be set. In this manuscript, we review a diversity of perspectives related to the often nuanced differences and similarities of these terms. A classification of the numerous proposed frameworks for environmental literacy, ecological literacy, and ecoliteracy (advanced within the fields of environmental education, ecology, and the broader humanities, respectively) is presented, and used to compare and contrast frameworks across multiple dimensions of affect, knowledge, skills, and behavior. This analysis facilitates close examination of where we have been, where we are, and where we might be headed with respect to these vital conversations. This work also offers points of reference for continued critical discourse, and illuminates a diversity of inspiration sources for developing and/or enriching programs aimed at cultivating these types of literacies.

Keywords: ecoliteracy, ecological literacy, ecology education, environmental education, environmental literacy, sustainability education


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Environmental literacy, ecological literacy, ecoliteracy: What do we mean and how did we get here?
Electronic Publish Date: October 18, 2013
Last Update:
October 18, 2013

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