What are the Key Ideas to Integrate into the Curricula

These ideas were informed by the Project for Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning PreK-12, created by the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Schools and districts should infuse environmental education into the curriculum and engage students in environmental education experiences, to ensure that upon graduation from 12th grade; environmentally literate students in Colorado are able to:


Connect content across disciplines related to natural and human systems

An important component of environmental literacy is understanding the processes and systems that comprise our Colorado and global environment, including human social systems and influences. That understanding is based on knowledge synthesized from across multiple traditional disciplines. It is critical that learners understand: (a) the earth as both a living environment and physical system, (b) humans and their societies, and (c) the environment and society. Students who understand the earth as a physical system explore processes that shape the earth, changes in matter, and energy. Understanding organisms, populations, and communities, heredity and evolution, systems and connections, and the flow of matter and energy build knowledge of the living environment. By studying humans and their societies, students build their knowledge of culture, political and economic systems, global connections, and change and conflict. Finally, understanding human and environment interactions and connections, places, resources, technology and environmental issues builds knowledge in the environment and society.


Understand the connections between people and places and the interrelationships between humans and the environment

Environmental literacy depends upon students understanding the relationship between their local environment and community heritage and how each shapes their lives. Developing these understandings immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences. Students need to demonstrate knowledge and history of local environment and how their community relies on its environment to meet its needs as well as understanding how community heritage (environmental, economic, social, political and technological) shapes their lives and impacts the future of the community and environment.


Demonstrate processes and skills including critical thinking, inquiry and issue investigation

Environmental literacy depends on learners’ ability to ask questions, speculate and hypothesize about the world around them, connect to the places where they live, and seek information and develop answers to their questions. Learners must be familiar with inquiry, master fundamental skills for gathering and organizing information, and interpret and synthesize information to develop and communicate explanations.


These skills are refined and applied in the context of environmental issues. Environmental issues are real-life situations where differing viewpoints about environmental problems and their potential solutions are played out. Environmental literacy includes the abilities to define, learn about, evaluate, and act on environmental issues both locally and globally.


Participate in proactive decision-making in their community and school

Environmentally literate citizens are willing and able to act on their own conclusions about what should be done to ensure environmental quality. As learners develop and apply concept-based learning and skills for inquiry, analysis and action, they also understand that what they do individually and in groups can make a difference.

CAEE works to ensure everyone in Colorado has an opportunity to learn about the environment where they live. We value inclusiveness and welcome everyone to the field of environmental education.

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