Environmental Education in China

Environmental Education in China

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

China’s environmental problems increasingly attract global attention, yet critics often overlook the sizable efforts of the Chinese people and government to change attitudes and behavior, in order to improve environmental outcomes. This much-needed book provides a comprehensive introduction to environmental education in China. After consideration of the environment in Chinese philosophy, the authors focus on application of directives and new guidelines to compulsory, secondary and college education, and also analyze the way in which teachers are trained. They then examine conditioning factors, such as the media and NGOs, as well as the variation of education within China, and attempt to measure the efficacy of environmental education over time.

Chapter 1: Introduction to China’s environmental education project

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology

Extract

China’s monumental environmental crises are no longer news, as for two decades they have stimulated headlines in the world press, scores of scientific studies and reports, attention of global governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and delicate diplomatic negotiations with global powers. Much less reported on are the attempts within the Chinese state system to learn from the mistakes of the past and to socialize the current and future generation of Chinese into environmental awareness, knowledge, and appropriate behavior towards the environment. The objective of this chapter is to introduce the environmental education project in China. We begin by briefly describing the framework of environmental education as developed in European and North American states since the 1960s. We then present the serious environmental challenges that make the project of environmental education so critical to China. We ask the extent to which environmental education is incorporated into the formal K-12 plus university education system and the role of regime socialization. The chapter concludes with an introduction to the nine chapters forming the core of the volume. Although the term ‘environmental education’ (EE) had been used in the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s, the first definition of the concept was the product of the ‘International Working Meeting on Environmental Education in the School Curriculum’ held in Nevada, USA in 1970. The co-sponsors of the event were UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).