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What is Environmental Education?

Environmental education increases public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues or problems. In doing so, it provides the public with the necessary skills to make informed decisions and take responsible action.

A primary desired outcome of environmental education programs is environmental literacy. Through the many programs funded and led by EPA, people of all ages and backgrounds are being provided multiple experiences that foster development of the combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be environmentally literate. Because environmental education is a process, it cannot in itself improve the environment, such as by enhancing local air or water quality. Instead, environmental education provides the capability and skills over time to analyze environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to sustain and improve the environment. As a result, individuals are more capable of weighing various sides of an environmental issue to make informed and responsible decisions.

The components of environmental education are:

  • Awareness and sensitivity to the environment and environmental challenges.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the environment and environmental challenges.
  • Attitudes of concern for the environment and motivation to improve or maintain environmental quality.
  • Skills to identify and help resolve environmental challenges.
  • Participation in activities that lead to the resolution of environmental challenges.

Environmental education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. Rather, environmental education teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking and it enhances their own problem-solving and decision-making skills.

For more information about EPA's environmental education programs, see: