TOI-4 Environmental Literacy

Earth is an integrated system that includes clouds, oceans, rocks, living beings, a magnetic field, and so forth. We humans, as a part of the Earth system, have created and continue to develop modes of thinking leading to political, economic, legal, social, and cultural systems that have altered the environment and our relationship to it, and which have implications for human health and well-being.  Courses in this topic will help students gain the knowledge, motivation, and skills to make informed and responsible decisions about human interactions with Earth systems and to take actions to improve the well-being of other individuals, societies, and the environment. By exploring environmental issues, engaging in problem solving and critical thinking, and taking action, students can help individuals and societies create awareness and sensitivity to the environment and enhance planetary stewardship.

Courses within this Topic of Inquiry category must meet one or more of the TOI-4 Learning Objectives throughout the course:

TOI-4 Learning Objective 1: Students will be able to investigate how human activities impact Earth systems.

    Sample Course Objectives

    • Describe how human activities like agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry, road and housing developments, or the burning of fossil fuels affect the specific Earth systems
    • Discuss how solutions to environmental problems can lead to benefits as well as unintended consequences

    TOI-4 Learning Objective 2:  Students will be able to examine how Earth systems affect human activities and well-being.

    Sample Course Objectives

    • Examine how present climates and landscapes influence human distribution and resource availability
    • Explain the variable exposure to natural hazards in time and space

    TOI-4 Learning Objective 3: Students will be able to assess how human-environment interactions are represented culturally, creatively, or artistically, and how these representations influence attitudes and behaviors.

    Sample Course Objectives

    • Discuss how culture influences environmental perceptions
    • Interpret how environmental perceptions influence culture
    • Explain how art motivates people to act on environmental issues
    • Evaluate cultural, creative, or artistic representations of human-environment interactions

    TOI-4 Learning Objective 4: Students will be able to evaluate how public policies, legal frameworks, and/or other social systems affect environmental and social justice.

    Sample Course Objectives

    • Describe key economic, political, and social analyses related to the design and evaluation of environmental policies and institutions
    • Evaluate the impact of human activities in the environment on human health and identify means to address them
    • Examine an individual’s role and identity as citizens, consumers, and environmental actors in the interconnected human-nature world
    • Compare and contrast public policies, legal frameworks, or other social systems that affect the environment

    TOI-4 Learning Objective 5:  Students will be able to articulate moral, ethical, and/or philosophical issues regarding the environment.

    Sample Course Objectives

    • Critique historical thinking that emphasizes the false duality between humans and the non-human environment
    • Examine an individual’s role and identity as citizen, consumer, and environmental actor in the interconnected human-nature world
    • Discuss moral or ethical dimensions regarding the environment
    • Explain how knowledge and authority about the environment is constructed through science and data and how it is challenged or undermined in various contexts and media
    • Develop, in collaboration with scientists, policy specialists, and humanists, plans to ensure environmental stewardship