The Conference will explore the role of education regarding one of the central issues of the 21st century - how to achieve a more sustainable relationship between people and the environment. The security of people and nations, economic opportunity and quality of human life depend upon the continued availability of a life-sustaining environment. A "green wall" separates ecology and economy, business and environment, society and sustainability. Education is essential to breach the green wall and allow people to make informed choices about their local and global environmental conditions.
Such education is a broad, diverse, complex and life-long enterprise, a mixture of formal and informal learning, with roots in disciplinary and interdisciplinary science, in museums and zoos, in corporations, in the media, and in all levels of government. The conference will recognize this diversity and the lessons that can be drawn from different parts of it and will also help participants to recognize commonality, develop recommendations for initiatives that will have broad impacts, and develop a framework for future collaborations.
The conference will:
- Prepare a national agenda for education for a sustainable and secure future.
- Develop a plan and a constituency for making this agenda a national priority.
- Bring leaders in society together with the full range of the educational enterprise -- from formal (K-12, college and graduate) to informal, including public education and training in environmental education, sustainability education, nature education, agricultural education, science education, and engineering education.
- Address major questions such as the identification of essential knowledge about the environment and sustainability and how such knowledge is related to the security and stability of human and natural systems.
- Address the roles of science and values in education and explore the use of new technologies and pedagogies. It will discuss challenges such as fragmentation, gaining public support and using funds more effectively.
- Explore and evaluate the diversity of approaches but will also allow participants to discover shared ground of common themes and approaches.
- Produce a report of recommendations on how to improve environmental and sustainability education on various levels and in various communities and as a whole. The report will be widely distributed, publicized and highlighted in briefings and presentations to Congress, federal agencies, and K-12 and higher education.
Participants in the conference will return with a refreshed and expanded view of the education enterprise as well as new opportunities for partnerships and shared activities in an area of global importance.