Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Pathways and Destinations for Defining Socio- ecological Literacy
Berkowitz, Alan
Co-Authors: Alan R. Berkowitz, Bess Caplan, Ali Whitmer and Gilly Puttick
Abstract: What should every high school graduate know, feel and be able to do in order to be socio-ecologically literate? What pathways – progressions of skills and understandings across ages and the necessary learning experiences to acquire these – are needed? Defining the emergent concept of socio-ecological literacy will be an exciting endeavor for BES and other scientists and educators in the coming years. In this talk, we will start with definitions of ecological literacy from a recent survey of members of the Ecological Society of America and of environmental science literacy from a group of LTER educators. These help identify some of the “destinations” or end points that might be involved in socio-ecological literacy. Culminating projects from pilot test classrooms of high school seniors using a Baltimore- based urban ecosystem module in the BioComplexity and the Habitable Planet curriculum give us concrete examples of what one such “destination” might look like. The talk will conclude with a preview of a recently funded Math Science Partnership (MSP) project that BES, along with three other LTER sites, will be undertaking over the next 5 years. In this project, we will be developing learning progressions for grades 6 through 12 for a matrix with three strands of socio-ecological literacy: carbon/energy, water/nutrients, and biodiversity, and four cross- cutting themes: qualitative accounts, quantitative reasoning, spatial/place-based thinking and citizenship.