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California's Environmental Principles and Concepts

The Education and the Environment Initiative [Pavley, Chapter 665, Statutes of 2003-AB 1548] directed the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Integrated Waste Management Board to develop Environmental Principles and Concepts for elementary and secondary schools in cooperation with the Natural Resources Agency, State Department of Education, State Board of Education, and Secretary for Education.  The Office of the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Integrated Waste Management Board have reviewed and concur with the Environmental Principles and Concepts (PDF).

The Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) examine the interactions and interdependence of human societies and natural systems and provide the framework of what California students should be learning to build environmental literacy. The EEI Curriculum addresses the EP&Cs in a manner that spirals and progresses through the grades from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Each EEI Curriculum unit generally focuses on one of these principles, with more complex principles being more common at the higher grade levels.

The progression and spiraling of the Environmental Principles (PDF, 255 KB) from Kindergarten through 12th Grade in the EEI Curriculum, is illustrated in this chart.

You can also review a correlation of all 85 EEI Curriculum Units (PDF, 307 KB) to the Environmental Principles.

A three-step process was used to develop the environmental principles and concepts for alignment with K-12 academic content standards. It involved:

1. Identification of “Overarching Environmental Principles” for use as an initial framework for developing the environmental principles and concepts. This was achieved through the following activities:

  • Collecting and reviewing examples of environmental principles from a wide variety of sources (e.g., American Academy for the Advancement of Science, The Center for Environmental Education of Antioch New England, and the North American Association for Environmental Education)
  • Identifying common themes among the examples of environmental principles
  • Using systems-thinking concepts as a framework for drafting overarching environmental principles
  • Establishing overarching principles related to interactions between natural systems and human communities and complete initial academic review.

2. Development of topic-specific environmental principles that correspond to the more general overarching principles. List and grouping of environmental topics (PDF, 18 KB). This was achieved through a series of topic-specific Technical Working Group meetings that involved state/local agency personnel, university faculty, representatives of business and industry, representatives of non-governmental environmental organizations, and educators. Participating organizations (PDF, 11 KB).

3. Delineation of the high-priority environmental concepts that were connected with each of the topic-specific environmental principles. This was undertaken through a second series of topic-specific Technical Working Group meetings.

In December 2004, the Environmental Principles & Concepts were reviewed by the Secretary of CalEPA and the CIWMB and approved for use.

Who's been involved

  • Technical Working Groups
  • Standards Alignment Teams
  • Field Reviews (6)
  • Orientation for Education Environment Advisor's
  • Educator Needs Assessment
  • District Focus Groups
  • Self Evaluations (more than 2,000 EE providers in California & nationwide)

Education and the Environment Initiative Home

Last updated: July 26, 2011
Education and the Environment Initiative, http://www.californiaeei.org/
Contact: EEI@calrecycle.ca.gov