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Environmental Literacy

Environmental Literacy in CA

History of Environmental Literacy in California

California has a long history of expecting instruction to include the relationship between humans and the environment. Since 1976, schools in California were required to adopt instructional materials that portray humanity as part of the ecological system and explain the necessity of protecting the environment. In 2004, the State Board of Education approved the CA Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) which are required to be in textbook adoption criteria for science, history-social science, mathematics, and English language arts. A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy was published in 2015, strengthening the need for local, environmentally relevant instruction. This need was highlighted and further supported by the 2018 passing of Senate Bill 720 which encouraged school boards to support environmental literacy learning experiences that should be available on an equitable basis to all students in California.

Quick Links

Two-page summary of the EP&Cs (PDF)

EP&C Grade Level Progression Matrix (PDF)

Definition of Environmental Literacy

The CA Blueprint for Environmental Literacy defines an environmentally literate person as one who “has the capacity to act individually and with others to support ecologically sound, economically prosperous, and equitable communities for present and future generations. Through lived experiences and education programs that include classroom-based lessons, experiential education, and outdoor learning, students will become environmentally literate, developing the knowledge, skills, and understanding of environmental principles to analyze environmental issues and make informed decisions.”

Central Themes for Environmental Literacy

  • Air
  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Environmental justice
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Fish and wildlife resources
  • Forestry
  • Integrated pest management
  • Oceans
  • Pollution prevention
  • Public health and the environment
  • Resource conservation, waste reduction, and recycling
  • Toxics and hazardous waste
  • Water

Environmental Literacy Phenomena Summits