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 11: Conclusions

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

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology

Extract

We conclude our study by summarizing the main points of the argument. We then ask whether there are ‘Chinese characteristics’ of environmental education, based on a survey of experts in the field. In Chapter 2 on ‘Confucianism as an environmental ethic’ we used Western models to analyze China’s major philosophical tradition. We did this because not only did EE and ESD develop in the West, but also in affluent Western nations there is a high degree of awareness of environmental problems and established research into the ideological and philosophical roots of environmental degradation. Conducting a brief and preliminary analysis of the Confucian canon, we identified elements that could be considered anthropocentric, sentientist, and eco-centric in orientation. Overall and unlike many of the dominant historical environmental paradigms in the West, Confucianism appears to be at least a ‘weak’ anthropocentric environmental ethic. Recent additions to the canon and authors in the neo-Confucian tradition have cosmic dimensions; the tianrenheyi concept of Confucianism may add to an emerging global environmental ethic that emphasizes sustainability. The revival of Confucianism in China leads some observers to think (wishfully) that it will have a decisive impact on popular attitudes toward environmental change and direct people toward pro-environmental behavior. This would be in error as we have pointed out in several places that the gap between thought and action is broad and deep.

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