Environmental Education in China
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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.
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Chapter 4: The environment in post-secondary education and the ‘green university’ in China

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


China has more than 1000 institutions of post-secondary education, including public traditional colleges and universities, with affiliations at the central government, ministry, sub-ministry, and provincial to local levels; in recent years private universities have been established as well. In this section we provide background information on how colleges and universities became the starting point for environmental education (EE) and education for sustainable development (ESD). As generally the most creative part of a nation’s educational system, higher education is also the most important basis of both EE and ‘education to promote sustainable development’. Beginning with nature preservation activities early in the twentieth century and then nature conservation and practical environmental protection work starting in the 1940s and 1950s, the concept of sustainable development was highlighted in the 1987 Brundtland Report. Since then this rich concept with multiple definitions has been highlighted repeatedly in a series of important declarations and documents related to problems in the environment. The 1992 global environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro called on all countries to develop a sustainable development education strategy by the end of 2002. However, at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa only a few nations had developed national implementation strategies. As a result, delegates to this summit asked that the ten years following 2005 be considered a decade of sustainable development.

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