Use the filter menu and interactive map to explore the past competitions offered and grants awarded through the Environmental Literacy Program.
To learn more about project findings and outcomes, view the summaries of our grantees’ summative evaluation reports.
Resilience from the Youth Up
As climate impacts ratchet up across the United States, the Great Lakes region tends to fly under the national radar. While the Great Lakes do not experience hurricanes, rising sea levels, or large-scale wildfires, the local climate has become increasingly erratic in recent years. The region, however, is one of the most unprepared in the country to cope with these impacts. A recent Grosvenor report (2014) on climate resilience among 50 global cities ranked Detroit last among 11 U.S. cities for adaptability and only better than three cities for overall resilience, which incorporates both climate vulnerability and adaptability factors. Of U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents, Detroit has the highest percentage of African-American residents (80.7%, U.S. Census 2016). Still recovering from bankruptcy, the city also has a 39% poverty rate, which impacts over 56% of children (ibid). These socio-economic factors, coupled with other environmental justice concerns, such as a centrally located incinerator and an asthma rate of 15.5% among adults resulting in over 3,000 hospitalizations annually, make Detroit residents particularly vulnerable to climate impacts. This project will address the urgent need to increase resilience by working with high school students and teachers in Detroit and southeast Michigan to increase their awareness of climate change and develop projects that help their schools and neighborhoods become resilient to increased occurrence and intensity of heat waves, storm events, and flooding. Using NOAA assets, including GLISA localized climate data and Sea Grant outreach and education expertise, high school students and teachers will partner with climate scientists to explore local climate impacts firsthand and to develop resilience strategies and projects that protect vulnerable households and neighborhoods and contribute to broader sustainability initiatives. The City of Detroit seeks this involvement as it ramps up a new Office of Sustainability and seeks proposals to develop the city's first Sustainability Framework. The effort is a partnership with EcoWorks, Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments (GLISA), Michigan Sea Grant (MISG), Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS), Eastern Michigan University, Civic Research Services, Inc., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In each of the next three years, 200 students from various high schools in the Detroit and Ypsilanti areas will participate in weekly activities related to the grant. The four primary objectives of the program include: 1) Engage students in assessing and quantifying climate vulnerabilities of their schools, neighborhoods, and surrounding community. 2) Using a place-based education (PBE) model, prepare educators to engage students in creating plans and completing projects that increase community resilience. 3) Empower high school students to teach residents about local climate impacts and increase understanding of resilience strategies to mitigate extreme weather events or other environmental hazards. 4) Contribute to the completion and implementation of local sustainability and climate action plans in Southeast Michigan.
Measuring the Effectiveness of North American Environmental Education Programs with Respect to the Parameters of Environmental Literacy
The North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) will assess environmental literacy levels of middle school students and compare the results to baseline data collected nationwide in 2007. In this study the research team will solicit and select a purposeful sample of schools and other program sites that represent the following categories: (1) Networks, e.g., Lieberman schools, Earth Force/Green Schools, Blue Ribbon School, etc.; (2) Programs, e.g. WET, WILD, PLT, IEEIA, etc.); (3) environmentally focused Charter and Magnet Schools; and (4) Independent Schools. By comparing 2008 programmatic assessments to the established 2007 base-line levels of environmental literacy (while investigating the variables that may contribute to school wide or classroom levels of literacy), the field of environmental education and NOAA may make future curricular and program decisions that are grounded in sound scientific data. The Research Team will review these results and generate a report to be submitted to NOAA and NAAEE (and other partners as needed). These results comprise a presentation at the annual NAAEE Conference and other venues. Articles will be submitted to professional newsletters and journals.
Secondary Analyses of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment: Phase I & II Students, Teachers, Programs and School Survey
Phase Three of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) will analyze the relationship between middle school students' scores on the MSELS and other measured variables that may have critically impacted the development of environmental literacy in these students. Phases One and Two of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) relied on four data collection instruments: The Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS), the School Information Form, the Program Information Form, and the Teacher Information Form. The primary outcomes of these phases were to identify general levels of environmental literacy (measured by the MSELS) and to compare these levels both within and across the studies. Through the comparison of these data sets, we could identify schools in which grade level cohorts of students displayed markedly higher levels of environmental literacy variables than their peer cohorts at other schools. However, questions remain concerning the magnitude and influence of variables that were reported on those survey forms, as well as the relationships among variables measured by the MSELS scales. The major research questions that will guide this Phase are: 1) To what extent do the variables measured by these Forms during Phase One and Two appear to have contributed to or influenced students' environmental literacy scores; 2) How do these variables appear to interact with each other; and 3) What are the relative contributions of knowledge, affect, and skill variables to actual commitment or behavior. The resulting analyses of this study will be shared both through peer-reviewed publications as well as appropriate professional conferences.
Into the Woods (ITW)
Queens College’s Into the Woods (ITW) project is an environmental literacy program for New York City Elementary School Teachers enhancing content knowledge about the Earth System and extending their classrooms outdoors into Nature. The classrooms continue to evolve into school stewardship and service learning in partnerships with parks and environmental organizations. The ITW project starts with five Elementary Globe books that link science, math and literacy. Fiction becomes reality during field training that uses GLOBE books as blueprints for how teachers can guide their students to conduct their own research to enhance understanding of the environment. The project trains teachers to design and supervise grade-appropriate research projects using GLOBE protocols in local parks; support them during those projects; and host annual research symposia during which students present their results. The project's template of immersing teachers and students in environmental research is becoming a national model for improving environmental literacy in all school systems. The NYU Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education works in partnership with Into the Woods to connect teachers to the resources, materials, and strategies required to successfully implement environmental education, outdoor learning, service learning and hands-on experiences across all grade levels and curriculum areas.