ASTE Position Statement on Environmental and Sustainability Education


The goal of environmental education as defined by the Belgrade Charter, “is to develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about, the environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones” (UNESCO-UNEP, 1976). ASTE strongly supports the inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education as a way to instill environmental literacy and sustainability in our nation’s preK-16 students. Environmental education should be a part of preparing teachers to become knowledgeable about the environment. The environment offers a relevant context for the teaching and learning of core science content and issues of environmental justice. In addition, environmental education promotes inquiry-based teaching and learning in science educational settings.  Environmental education in science teacher education is critical because informed decisions regarding the future of our planet depend upon an environmentally literate citizenry.


  • ASTE urges science teacher educators to prepare teachers that have understandings, skills, and attitudes necessary to be environmentally literate.
  • Environmental education provides interdisciplinary, multicultural, and multiple viewpoints to promote awareness and understandings of a global environment.
  • Environmental education provides a balance between environmental, economic, ecological, and social perspectives to sustain future needs.
  • Environmental education provides an opportunity to foster learning through nonformal and formal learning centers such as aquariums, museums, nature centers, zoos, and government or community agencies.
  • Appropriate use of technologies should be used to enhance environmental experiences and understandings.
  • Science teacher education should emphasize content, pedagogy, and instructional planning that promotes environmental literacy, an important component of scientific literacy.
  • Science teacher educators can foster inquiry by taking students outside and encouraging them to ask questions and explore their local environment.
  • Environmental education involves becoming an active participant in local communities. In this way, science teacher educators can provide opportunities for teachers to develop personal connections through ownership and empowerment. Some examples of environmental community projects that promote sustainability include recycling, planting native plants, open space planning, and green building.

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization – United Nations
Environment Programme. (1976). The Belgrade charter. Connect: UNESCOUNEPEnvironmental Education Newsletter, 1(1), 1-2.