Education and Outreach
Rise of Environmentalism. The 1962 release of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s meticulously researched, beautifully written examination of the devastating environmental effects of widespread and indiscriminate use of DDT, is considered the spark that led to the rise of environmentalism. Silent Spring found a vast, diverse audience; people from all walks of life responded to its message with a call to action. Government leaders responded as well. In 1963, President Kennedy established an advisory committee on environmental matters. Individual states began banning DDT as scientific evidence confirmed it as harmful to human health. A federal ban was placed on DDT in 1972.
Need for science-based studies of the environment. With Silent Spring, it became understood that chemical compounds can be environmentally persistent and have negative biological effects in diverse life forms. In 1969, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) be prepared for federal projects expected to have a major impact on the environment. Accurate assessments can be accomplished only through sound scientific investigation, involving all branches of science and engineering. Environmental Science as its own field of scientific study grew out the need to find solutions to complex environmental issues based on solid scientific fact, as well as the need to develop science-based environmental investigation protocols and procedures. Over the past four decades, the study of Environmental Science has generated an enormous body of research and information.
Mirroring the integrated, multifaceted approaches to Environmental Sustainability, the study of Environmental Sciences involves many different academic disciplines: biological sciences, chemistry, physics, engineering; public health, public policy, environmental law, and history, to name a few. Environmental education takes place at all levels of education, including at the earliest levels. Awareness of humans’ interconnection with their environment should be fostered at every opportunity. Annual Earth Day events often have a strong educational component.
Environmental Education and Outreach at Lehman College. At Lehman College, we will continue to host and promote conferences aimed at educating the general public about the importance of sustainability. We have established a new, accredited, interdisciplinary undergraduate major in Environmental Science; the first class of students enrolled in the program in Fall 2010. The program is interdisciplinary, although it is organized through Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences (EEGS). Coursework in sciences and liberal-arts departments make up the core courses for the program.
- Kroll, G. The "Silent Springs" of Rachel Carson: mass media and the origins of modern environmentalism. Public Understanding of Science, 2001 October, 10(4); 403-420.
- Rome, A. The Genius of Earth Day. Environmental History, 2010 April, 15; 194-205. Accessed at: http://envhis.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/2/194.full.pdf+html.
- CUNY Center for Sustainable Energy: http://www.csebcc.org/