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 7: Non-state actors (NSAs) and environmental education

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

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology


The phenomenon of environmentalism and its accompanying non-state actors developed some 20 years later in China than in the economically developed nations, both because of differences in economic conditions and the continued monopolization of power by the Chinese Communist Party. In this chapter we consider two of the most important elements of the non-state sector: non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and business firms. In the preceding chapter, we covered the media, which in China is an important bridge to groups outside the state. Although China has been late in the development of environmentalism, this perhaps has been beneficial in learning from the experience of environmental pioneers and models, as well as from the evolution in environmental thought, such as ecological modernization. This concept is expressed in various transformations regarding the traditional central role of the nation-state in environmental reform. Presently, one sees emphasis on more decentralized, flexible and consensual styles of national governance, in contrast to the top-down hierarchical command-and-control regulations. Non-state actors are increasingly taking over traditional tasks of the nation-state. This is seen in the emergence of environmental NGOs and the formation of alliances between the private sector and NGOs. International and supra-national institutions have emerged and begun to undermine the traditional role of the nation-state in environmental policy-making. We see this evolution at work in China as we turn to discussion of the growth of civil society.

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