Necessity of Environmental Edu

Sara Burke ’21, Guest Writer

Not long ago, environmental science was an overlooked field of study in high schools and college institutions. According to Middlebury College, it wasn’t until 1965 when the first college offered an environmental studies program in the United States. As the harmful effects of practices such as coal burning and chemical usage became known; the necessity to study the environment grew. Scholars, students, and professionals realized that the environment was a field of science that needed to be studied in order to preserve the Earth. Today, environmental science encompasses a wide range of subjects from economics to biology and is a popular major offered at all institutions throughout the world.

Though environmental science may be a common area of study within a college curriculum, many elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the country offer few opportunities to engage this growing field. I believe that the need for incorporating environmental into the primary and secondary education systems is essential for new generations. It is crucial for educators to implement environmental science into the curriculum for children. We need to instruct new generations on environmental problems so children can become aware of how their actions influence and impact the environment while developing their interest in the field of environmental science. 

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in introducing such a curriculum is funding. If schools cannot afford to pay teachers a proper salary and buy textbooks for students, how can an entire new program be dedicated to environmental science? I believe that the answer lies in innovative ways to recreate the basic curriculum to incorporate ideas of environmental science and sustainability in all areas of studies. While some people might want to keep environmental science out of a core curriculum because they view the subject as unimportant and a hassle to incorporate it into the curriculum, I believe that it is crucial for our future to incorporate this subject to all school curriculums. 

When I attended elementary, middle school, and high school I took no environmental science classes. No classes specializing in this field were offered. I did not know what the field of environmental science was or how it could be applied to my everyday life and the jobs that the field offered. As someone who grew up in an educational system with no practical environmental science within the curriculum, I did not realize how vast the area of study was until I enrolled at Dickinson College in Carlisle Pennsylvania. As an institution that focuses on suitability in all aspects of student life, I quickly learned that ideas of environmental science and sustainability can be applied to virtually any aspect of studies. I believe that educational professionals can implement ideas of sustainability and environmental science into various subjects throughout their curriculum. While these teachers may not be qualified to teach environmental studies, they can incorporate ideas about sustainability and environmental science into their area of expertise. Language teachers and professors can teach their students how countries that speak their respective languages have introduced ideas which support sustainability and movements such as the Slow Food Movement in many European countries. Biology teachers can integrate species and land conservation into their curriculum and chemistry teachers can teach students about various forms of energy conservation. 

By including different forms of sustainability and environmental science into preexisting curriculums in the elementary through high school levels children can learn about the growing field of environmental studies. By teaching various ages the importance of sustainability and introducing the field of environmental science children can learn about the importance of seeking solutions to the many environmental problems that affect the world today.  

Children must understand that in order for society to flourish scientists, economists, educators, and professionals of other areas of expertise must unite and develop ways for humanity to utilize our resources and environment in ways that benefit both humanity and the Earth itself. By implementing ideas of environmental science and suitability in subjects that are already taught at the primary and secondary education level schools would not have to expend additional money and resources to incorporate a whole new subject into the school curriculum. 

While many people may argue that it is necessary to teach children basic subjects that are the foundation for other areas of studies, I believe that learning environmental science at a young age is essential for the future. In a world that is plagued with issues that stem from poor environmental practices, children must become acquainted with fields that prepare them with the knowledge to solve these problems in order to benefit our society.