This special issue is the result of a 2-year collaborative project involving environmental education (EE) societies/associations from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, North America, and Australia. The aim of the project was to create a platform to share ideas, practices, and theories of EE in the Asian region, with English as the common language. The discussion was organized around five core themes: 1) Development, current situation, and challenges of EE in formal education; 2) Development, current situation, and challenges of EE in non-formal education; 3) Research trends in EE; 4) Insights for EE in Asia from outside of Asia; 5) Review, comparison, and synthesis of findings to go beyond a presentation of EE in various countries and instead highlight the recurring transversal issues. We hope this special issue will contribute to furthering dialogue among EE scholars and practitioners in Asia, and to building bridges between EE in Asia and other regions.
Environmental education in formal settings may be more effective and systematic than in non-formal or informal ones, where it is carried out consistently and coherently over grade levels and school levels. It is equitable to be beneficial for all students. This study aims to review the context, development and the present status of environmental education in the primary and secondary schools of Korea to discuss issues and challenges to respond this question. The importance of environmental education was first mentioned in the 4th National Curriculum of Korea announced in 1981. It is notable that ‘Environment’ as an elective subject for secondary students was introduced in the 6th National Curriculum in 1992. It has contributed to introduce meaningful and innovative pedagogies for students including project approaches of environmental issues. Teaching ‘Environment’ as an elective subject in schools, however, raised issues and challenges in relation with locating environmental education in the school system in addition to securing quality teachers. Diverse attempts including environmental education model schools, Schoolforest initiatives, and UNESCO ASPnet schools were examined to explore the possibility of whole school approaches including schools’ external relations through partnerships, and school policy and organizations. The issues and challenges were identified and discussed based on the present status of EE in Korea related to ‘what’ and ‘how’ for formal environmental education in Korea and beyond.
Like many countries, Taiwan’s concern with environmental education started in the 1980s. During that period, economic and industrial development had brought Taiwan a crisis in the form of serious environmental pollution.
In Taiwan, promoting environmental education started from the social environmental education sector by the non-formal education system, followed eventually by the formal education system of schools. Two public government organizations, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Ministry of Education, worked mutually through these processes making achievements along the way.
After the Grade 1-9 Curriculum Reform in 2001, Taiwan’s formal curriculum for environmental education in schools was included as a “major issue” in the National Curriculum. The national curriculum also developed competence indicators/benchmarks for environmental education at different learning stages. From elementary to junior high school, most of the schools brought the competence indicators into their school-based curricula, putting them into the overall school curriculum plans, and assimilated environmental education contents into various traditional disciplines for teaching.
Since the 2000s, schools in Japan have developed diverse approaches to environmental education, reflecting the characteristics of each region. In general, environmental education has been conducted according to the guiding principles of the Teacher's Guide for Environmental Education and is reported to have been implemented mainly in the classes of Life-Environmental Studies and during Period for Integrated Studies.
During the 2010s, the notion of "environmental education incorporating the viewpoints of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development)" has gained ground. This is education which focuses on comprehensive issues (environment, industry, culture, history, welfare, and so on) and links them with diverse sectors (government, NPO, company, research institution, and so on) in order to consider the sustainability of different regions. The National Curriculum Standards which will be enacted from 2020 incorporate the viewpoints of ESD, and as a result conventional environmental education is expected to expand its scope and contents.
Based on these national policies, although some schools are carrying out advanced educational activities, many schools are not making sufficient progress in regards to environmental education, and are in the situation where they are seeking to somehow implement activities based on current issues such as natural disasters or radioactive contamination.
In Korea environmental education (hereinafter EE) is classified into an institutional, school EE and a noninstitutional, social EE. This study reviews how social EE has formed and evolved since 1970s and characteristics appearing during the process, driven by environmental organizations, the main actor. Corporate EE is chronologically analyzed as well. In 1970–1980s the purpose of social EE was to enlighten people about the seriousness of pollution and nurture activists joining environmental movement. In 1990s EE driven by environmental organizations pursued social changes. In this period, social EE became diverse, in which various audiences can participate ranging from children and adolescents to grown-ups. In 2000s the citizen-participatory EE expanded, and the diverse social EE actors appeared such as the organizations specializing in EE, grassroots environmental organizations and the network of citizen EE instructors. Lastly post-2010 is a transit period. New changes occurred at home and abroad and its scope and arena have expanded. At this time the EE policies at the national level have laid the foundation for systemization of social EE. This study concludes by proposing future tasks for the development of social EE.
In the early 1990s, environmental education (EE) was initially launched at all levels of the school settings (K-12) in Taiwan. Since then, EE has become a theme and has been recognized as an influential instrument for environmental concerns by most Taiwanese educators. With such powerful outcomes from EE, it was found that environmental awareness and attitudes held by the public in general were dramatically increased from the past decades. Accordingly, EE with its three-dimension components-formal EE; nonformal EE; and informal EE – have been consciously designed and practiced in order to reach out for a large part of the society. For example, by the year 2001, there were five graduate institutes of environmental education established under the Teacher Normal Universities throughout Taiwan. And, in the context of nonformal EE, educational programs and interpretation at the institutions such as environmental education centers, nature centers, zoos, museums, parks, outdoor-education settings, park & recreation and so on have been implemented and adopted by a broad array of organization practitioners. But, as regards informal EE, namely, “environmental communications,” there had received relatively less attention than formal and nonformal practices during the time. On June 5, 2010, the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan adopted Environmental Education Act, which is a significant expansion of EE in Taiwan. This review article briefly addresses the history and current state of nonformal EE developing in Taiwan. In addition, a dynamic expansion of nonformal EE promoted by Environmental Education Act was explained in the article as well.
This paper summaries non-formal environmental education in Japan from a historical standpoint. In pre-war Japan, although development based on the policy of “rich country and strong army” brought about environmental degradation in all parts of the country, this did not lead to the birth of environmental education. The nature conservation and anti-Kogai movements that emerged in the post-war era prompted the “environmentalization” of society and education, marking the birth of environmental education in Japan. This education expanded to include nature-oriented education starting in the 1980s and became institutionalized starting in the 1990s. In today’s context characterized by neo-liberal restructuring of the entire educational system in which environmental education is becoming increasingly marginalized, the organization of locally based critical and creative learning is urgently needed.
To describe the characteristics and development of EE research in Korea, this paper includes critical reviews of previous studies which discussed the trends in EE research. The range of studies reviewed includes journal articles, doctoral dissertations, and masters’ theses on themes of EE from the 1980s to 2016. This paper introduces the backgrounds and contexts of EE in Korea, interpreting the development of this field and the roles of academic journals. This paper also shows the expansion and diversification of EE research in Korea. In the processes, groups of researchers have conducted their studies in the emerging areas with specific target groups or topics such as early childhood EE and climate change education. By comparing research articles in the early 2000s and the early 2010s, the author suggests that the range of practices in EE has changed. Reviewing the past and present features of EE research, this study leads to discussions on traditions/currents of EE and roles of EE research for the future practices.
Since environmental education is a lifelong process and the everyday world beyond the school may be the main channel for environmental learning, this paper reviewed four Taiwanese studies that have examined the types of significant life experiences affecting the cultivation of environmental action. In the current paper, the author critiques these studies’ findings. Based on the performed review, implications for program development and instructional practice in Taiwan are presented.
This article reviews the history of environmental education research (EER) in Japan, casting a critical view on its fragmented nature, and proposes a future agenda for its development. Pollution (kogai) education research (KER) and nature conservation education research were initiated and developed by people from different backgrounds in the 1960s and 70s, which was followed by “EE” research in the 1970s. The establishment of the Japanese Society of Environmental Education (JSOEE) in 1990 could have linked them up under the banner of EE, yet KE was rather neglected within the JSOEE in the 1990s and 2000s, unlike nature conservation education. This is possibly because many key KE researchers did not join nor become active members of JSOEE, and the then Environmental Agency downplayed KE in the formulation of its EE policy. This KER-EER disconnect may account for the weak critical and social scientific perspectives in JSOEE and a “technocratic rationality” prevailing among its members who tend to regard EE as an instrument to achieve policy objectives. Existing studies also show other disconnects embedded in JSOEE—between research in Japan and abroad and between research in the present and the past, the former hardly drawing on the latter in each case. These disconnects may be due to the emphasis on a street-level pragmatism and a lack of theoretical discussion within JSOEE. After pointing out several features of Japanese EER in the 2010s, this article concludes by suggesting several agendas to address the patchwork condition and existing disconnects for the future of EER in Japan.
Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are geographically situated at the southern edge of the Asia-Pacific region and have therefore sometimes been referred to as the ‘backyard’ of the wider Asia region. It is from this vantage point that we comment on the broad focus of this Special Issue - ‘Environmental Education in Asia’. The intent is to open up and extend a dialogue with, across and outside of Asia as it pertains to environmental education and its research. We do this by framing our discussion around the biogeography, sociocultural and socioecological history of the region, beginning with Australasia, and then speculating on how this framing might be applied to connect environmental education in Australasia and Asia.
This contribution provides some insights in possible future developments in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE). Some challenges for the field are presented in light of a rapidly changing world that has homogenizing and polarizing tendencies. Four different movements and emphases within education, communication, and participation in relation to people and planet are distinguished: from nature conservation education (NCE), to environmental education (EE), to education for sustainable development (ESD) to environmental and sustainability education (ESE). These different ‘educations’ do not literally succeed one another. Rather, they often they run parallel. The authors observe a trend in some parts of the world towards convergence where both sense of place and the strengthening of relationships between people and people and the non-human and more-than-human world, as well as the questioning of deep rooted structures and hegemonic values, engaging multiple actors with sometime conflicting views and the crossing of boundaries between sectors and disciplines, are considered critical. The readers of this special issue are challenged to mirror these movements with their own histories and realities but also to imagine how nascent scientific, technological, social, and ecological developments might perturb, disrupt, and/or transform the field of environmental education in ways that allow for more sustainable futures to emerge.
In this end-piece to the special issue of the Japanese Journal of Environmental Education: Environmental Education in Asia, we review, compare and synthesize the discussions provided in this issue to reach our aim of going beyond merely describing environmental education (EE) in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and seek further questions and common issues relevant to the region and possibly the global community. From the first three articles, which overviewed formal EE in each country, three issues emerged for further study: institutionalizing EE in schools, the roles of EE in improving the quality of school education, and marginalization of EE in schools oriented towards college entrance. The next three articles suggested the limited impacts non-formal EE has made on society as a whole in these places and the need to investigate how governmental institutionalization affected the characteristics, contents, and qualities of non-formal EE, to avoid weakening its diversity and autonomy. The next three articles, which overviewed EE research trends, led to the questions: “How can we transform EE practices into EE research?” and “How can we enhance the field of EE as an academic discipline?” The contribution from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia discussed the importance of understanding EE in relation to biogeography, sociocultural and socioecological history, and proposed collaboration in cross-cultural EE exchanges, “posthumanist” EE development, and EE for Asian migrants in Austrasia. Finally, the last paper invited us to envision futures for EE, raising critical questions in relation to the roles of EE to “invite” people to reflect on values, controversies, and dilemmas, to critically face the “post-truth” era, and to take necessary action. Our next step is to invite more people to join our challenge in reflecting critically on our practices as EE professionals in Asia in relation to the ecological, geographical, social, political, economic, and cultural contexts and finding ways for further development and contributions to global EE collaboration.
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