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Environmental Research and Education in US Geography

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This article evaluates geography as an appropriate home for environmental education. First, it argues that many geographers have defined geography as a discipline with a major, if not primary, interest in human–environment interactions. Next, it reviews the recent statements by non-geographer, environmental scholars that, directly or indirectly, argue for strong participation by geographers in environmental science and sustainability studies. After a brief review of the status and the nature of environmental research programs and environmental curricula, the article offers reasons why more environmental education does not take place in geography. The lack of environmental education in the discipline and the conservative nature of the courses taught are attributed to geography's small size and low status and to the controversial nature of environmental issues in the United States. A broad definition of environmental education is used when searching for evidence of its existence or importance, but special attention is focused on courses or programs that incorporate sustainability or other topics that include a human dimension, in contrast with those that are confined to a narrow, natural-science or management conception.

Keywords: Environmental education; Geography Education Standards; human–environment relations; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Texas A&M University, Department of Geography, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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