Environmental education

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Environmental education or environmental education is an educational approach that emerged in the 1970s, which aims to convey a responsible approach to the environment and natural resources .


The environmental movements of the 1970s played a key role in the development of the approach . In the 1980s, numerous concepts with very different orientations and objectives were developed in German-speaking countries, for which various terms were introduced, such as environmental education, ecological learning and eco-pedagogy.

Environmental education actors have existed in all educational sectors since the late 1980s, from early childhood education to school, university, vocational and general (further) education to informal learning.

After Agenda 21 of the World Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, environmental education continued to develop as part of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) campaign. Without the principle of sustainable development, environmental education is now outdated. This guiding principle does not only refer to ecology, environment or nature, but integrates further dimensions, e.g. B. Social and economic, often also on politics / participation and culture. This has meanwhile been accepted by almost all actors in the former environmental education, in all areas of education and in science and politics - at the latest since the " UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development " started on January 1, 2005 .


In the Federal Republic of Germany there are around 4600 stationary environmental education institutions. These are supplemented by around 30 environmental vehicles . The diversity of institutional forms is hardly manageable, it ranges from forest kindergartens, environmental schools, environmental and ecology stations, national parks, biosphere reserves, nature parks, environmental, nature conservation and school biology centers, school country and forest youth homes, forest schools, school farms and outdoor laboratories to environmental academies . A large number of freelance environmental educators (e.g. mudflat guides, landscape guides, nature educators, wilderness educators, forest educators, etc.) also work. There is often a fruitful cooperation with independent educational institutions.

The environmental education institutions are organized in the umbrella association of environmental education institutions and environmental educators , the Working Group on Nature and Environmental Education (ANU) . For environmental vehicles there is the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Umweltmobile (AGUM), which also networks international mobile projects (Mobile Environmental Education Projects - MEEP). The ANU has been publishing the monthly information service ökopädNEWS since 1991, which reports across all associations from all education sectors with a focus on environmental education and education for sustainable development. An extensive archive on the Internet with around 5,000 articles offers a good overview and can be used free of charge. There is also a media list with around 45 newsletters and other media from German-speaking countries.

In Austria, the FORUM Umweltbildung works with 15 employees in the two offices in Vienna and Salzburg. The FORUM environmental education is an initiative of the Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Dept. II / 3 Sustainable Development) and the Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture (Dept. V / 11 Political Education and Environmental Education). There is no reliable data on the number of institutions in Austria. The “education map” offers a compilation of institutions. The first Austrian environmental education institution was founded in the federal state of Styria in 1982 and has been operating under the name Umwelt-Bildungs-Zentrum Steiermark (UBZ) since 2001. At the University of Agricultural and Environmental Education (in the 13th district of Vienna, Ober St. Veit), there has been a degree in environmental education since 2008. The bachelor's degree in environmental education is four years with 240  ECTS and the master's degree in environmental education and consulting is one-year with 60 ECTS.

In Switzerland, the Foundation for Environmental Education Switzerland (SUB) was established in 1994 by the federal government, cantons, municipalities and organizations involved in education and environmental protection. It is intended to promote and expand environmental education in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, anchor it in the existing structures, support and coordinate environmental education initiatives, and strengthen cooperation between the actors, with foreign countries and with related areas. The foundation has an extensive database with information on institutions and offers in Switzerland, a list of organizations and an overview of practical deployments in nature and environmental protection for classes, groups and individuals. The SUB Foundation is a member of the international network for education for sustainable development and environmental education / ENSI, which was founded in 1986 under the umbrella of the OECD Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). A concrete example from Switzerland is the Spechtbaum campaign , which brought Pro Natura and Swiss bird protection together with the Swiss Forester Association towards the end of the 1990s . School classes and youth groups were motivated with the action to search the forest for so-called cavity trees - mostly from Specht timbered serve birds as nesting sites -. Some foresters offered their hands to leave these cave trees that were found and marked accordingly in the sense of a natural forest management.

Scientific aspects

There are similarities between environmental education and the global learning approach , which has developed from projects for the “ Third World ” and similar concepts. One example is the council process , the common learning path of Christian churches on justice, peace and the integrity of creation . This approach to environmental education is about making the interaction between the small household of everyday life (the oikos ) and the larger household of the inhabited earth (the oikumene ) tangible.

Some educators speak of the relative ineffectiveness of conventional environmental education and suggest reform pedagogical and other approaches. The terms experiential education as well as nature and environmental education describe further approaches. The scientific basis for this was provided by a. Gerhard de Haan and Christian Salzmann .


  • Gerhard Becker: Urban environmental education in the context of sustainable development. Theoretical foundations and school perspectives . Ecology and Educational Science Vol. 7, VS Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-8100-2834-7 . (only available at www.umweltbildung-os.de , with digital extensions 2011)
  • Wolfgang Beer, Gerhard de Haan (Hrsg.): Ökoppedagogik. Stand up against the fall of nature. Beltz, Weinheim 1984, ISBN 3-407-33303-X .
  • Martin Beyersdorf: environmental education . Luchterhand Verlag, Neuwied 1998, ISBN 3-472-03150-6 .
  • Dietmar Bolscho, Hansjörg Seybold: Environmental education and ecological learning . Cornelsen-Scriptor, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-589-21072-9 .
  • Richard Häusler: Invented Environment. The constructivism book for ecologists and other educators. ÖKOM, 2004, ISBN 3-936581-73-8 .
  • Regula Kyburz-Graber, Ueli Halder, Anton Hügli , Markus Ritter: Environmental Education in the 20th Century - Beginnings, Present Problems, Perspectives. Waxmann, Münster 2001, ISBN 3-89325-892-2 .
  • Eduard W. Kleber: Basics of ecological pedagogy. An introduction to ecological-educational thinking. Weinheim / Munich 1993, ISBN 3-7799-1012-8 .
  • Herbert Österreicher: Practice of environmental education . In: Norbert Kühne (Hrsg.): Praxisbuch Sozialpädagogik . Volume 7, Bildungsverlag EINS, Troisdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-427-75415-2 .
  • Manuela Seifert, Regina Steiner, Johannes Tschapka: Between Management and Mandala. Environmental education across Europe. Ed .: Austrian Society for Nature and Environmental Protection. Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-900717-40-0 .
  • Lars Wohlers: Informal environmental education using the example of the German national parks . Shaker, Aachen 2001, ISBN 3-8265-8457-0 .
  • Models of regional learning and environmental education in Europe. Summary report on the scientific symposium "Regional Learning in the European Horizon" from October 22nd to 24th, 1987 at the University of Osnabrück, edited by Christian Salzmann and Wolf Dieter Kohlberg

See also

Web links




  1. Eulefeld, cf. Environmental education. In: ZUM-Wiki . Retrieved December 27, 2017 .
  2. Bolscho, Seybold
  3. ^ Estimate by the Environmental Education Research Group at the Free University of Berlin
  4. https://www.umweltmobile.de/agum-was-ist-das
  5. Austria's educational map
  6. Raphaela Kitzmantel-Losch: HOME | University of Agricultural and Environmental Education - University of Agricultural and Environmental Education. Retrieved November 17, 2018 .
  7. ^ Brochure Aktion Spechtbaum , 1998.
  8. Josef Senft : Environmental Education and Oikos Pedagogy: Approaches and Arguments. In: Diakonia. International Journal for the Practice of the Church 32 (2001) No. 6, 407-412, 410ff
  9. Göpfert, H .: Tools to save the earth? IMC / NABU , December 15, 2004, archived from the original on March 29, 2007 ; Retrieved December 16, 2012 .