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Introduction to Environmental Education 

"Introduction Environmental Education" online course

  • Hundreds of participants from over 60 countries have taken this popular course

  • This course includes a number of webinars with outstanding EE speakers

  • This course offers 20 learning hours

This course may be offered again in the future.

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Course overview

Learn about environmental education foundations and approaches—including place-based education, nature and adventure education, climate change education, and environmental action in schools and non-formal settings—through pre-recorded lectures, readings, and case studies. You will apply research-based knowledge to start new or enhance existing environmental education programs, strengthen your professional networks by exchanging ideas and resources with peer educators around the world, and gain professional credentials.


Beginning and aspiring environmental educators, including teachers, nonformal educators, environmental or park managers, zoo or botanic garden educators, volunteers, and university students. This course can also support ongoing professional development of more experienced environmental educators. Available to students in any country. Materials are in English with Chinese translations.


Regular fee $60. Almost all students pay the $60 fee. Some course participants are able to pay more and sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students in poor economic situations who are not able to take the course because of the fee use the options of  paying a smaller fee or taking the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.


To receive Cornell certificate, participants must: (1) respond to all eight weekly discussion board questions, in weeks 1-4, (2) post comments for other participants in all eight discussion boards, in weeks 1-4 (3) submit reflections about any webinar (except Introduction); you have to participate in at least one live webinar or watch a recorded webinar and (4) complete the one-page final report about a research-based EE activity that you will conduct during this course. Everything must be submitted absolutely no later than by the last day of the course (October 8, 2019). After the last day of the course, assignments absolutely cannot be accepted.

Educational approach

The course is based on three principles: (1) Learning is social: we learn effectively within a social context, thus networking and exchange of ideas among participants is crucial; (2) Learning can lead to innovation: course participants can work together building on the course materials to develop new ideas for environmental education; and (3) Learning can foster practice change: we will discuss how course ideas and new ideas emerging in this course can be implemented in real environmental education programs. The course will use the EdX Edge learning management system and optional groups on Facebook and WeChat to facilitate idea and resource exchange.


Learning outcomes

Through this course, you will:

  1. Understand theories, terminology, and history that define environmental education.

  2. Compare and contrast various environmental education approaches.

  3. Expand your network of environmental educators to support your future projects.

  4. Produce activity plans appropriate for your current or future educational programs.


Course instructors

Alex Kudryavtsev, Marianne Krasny, and Yue Li (Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab)



September 3 – October 8, 2019. Course includes 4 weeks of content (approximately 4 hours of work per week), plus one week to complete the required final project (lesson plans or activity plans).

Course outline

  1. Foundations of Environmental Education. In Week 1, we introduce the course and environmental education, and students introduce themselves and their work or studies.

  2. Formal and Nonformal Environmental Education. In Week 2, we focus on environmental education approaches as defined by where the program takes place. Formal environmental education takes place in K-12 schools while nonformalenvironmental education is provided by museums, botanical gardens, zoos, nature centers, libraries, after-school clubs, communities centers, camps, and other out-of-school settings.

  3. Place-Based and Nature-Based Education. This week we review place-based education, as well as nature-based, residential and adventure programs. These programs can happen in both wild/rural and urban areas.

  4. Climate Change and Environmental Action. This week we focus on climate change education, and education that fosters collective environmental action.

  5. Final Report. Course participants will write up the final report about an EE activity that they will conduct during this course. This EE activity must be based on EE research (concepts, ideas, publications, theories) learned during this course.


Frequently asked questions

  1. Course email When you email us, please always start the subject of your email with “Intro EE” so that we can find your message.

  2. Do I have to participate in webinars? We encourage course participants to participate in live webinars because you can interact with presenters and peers. But don’t have to participate in live webinars if time does not work for you; in this case, you can watch a recorded webinar.

  3. What are community groups? Community groups are groups of course participants who are interested in specific EE topics, or come from specific regions, or want to discuss course materials in a language other than English. You can create a community group within this course, and recruit some course participants in it. Some course groups create their own Facebook groups or WeChat groups.

  4. Why do you have different fees? Nearly all students pay the $60 fee. We require all participants to pay if they can pay. Some course participants are able to pay more (e.g., $120) to sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students who are absolutely unable to pay because of economic hardship can pay a smaller fee or take the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.

  5. If I pay $120 to sponsor another student, can I link with the student I sponsor? No, we keep who pays and who doesn’t pay anonymous. However, you will be able to connect with students from many different countries through the course discussion board and social media.

  6. Can I sponsor more than one student? Yes, we would be grateful for your support of other students, especially in developing countries, who otherwise cannot afford paying for this course.

  7. How long is the course? This is a 5-week course, and it requires about 4 hours of work per week. All required learning materials are offered asynchronously. Only optional webinars are synchronous (most probably offered on Wednesdays at 8:00-10:00am, Eastern Time), and they are recorded in case if you prefer to watch at another time.

  8. Can I submit the final project in my native language? We strongly encourage you to submit all assignments in English so that instructors and other students can give you feedback. We also accept and give feedback on assignments submitted in Chinese and Spanish.

  9. How will I receive course certificates? If you fulfilled the course requirements, you will receive your PDF course certificate within one month after the end of the course.

  10. What social media are used in this course? We use an optional Facebook group and WeChat group where students and instructors share ideas and resources. Participants gain a great deal from exchanging ideas and resources and “meeting” fellow students and instructors on social media. However, participating in social media is not required to earn a certificate. Only course participants can be part of this Facebook group. Do NOT invite your friends or colleagues to this group. You can participate in both the Facebook and WeChat group (WeChat is mostly in Chinese).

  11. Which languages are used in the course? Readings and lectures are in English. We include Chinese, Spanish, and English subtitles for many lectures. We have Chinese TAs who provide additional support for Chinese speakers.

  12. Can I share course materials with my colleagues and friends? You are NOT allowed to share, copy, distribute, or forward any readings from this course. They are only for your own learning. All readings in this course are copyright protected, and nobody is permitted to share them outside this course. Course syllabus cannot be shared. You are welcome to share your learning experiences and course projects with your colleagues and friends.


(We use time in New York)

  1. Wednesday 9/4, at 8am-9:00am (Eastern Time) — Course introduction — Alex Kudryavtsev, Cornell University (

  2. Wednesday, 9/4, at 9am-10:00am — Theory of Change: Application to Environmental Education — Marianne Krasny, Professor, Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab

  3. Wednesday, 9/11, at 8:00am-9:00am — Educating for Sustainability: Integrating the three Es (environment, economy, and equity) — Paul Bocko, Antioch University New England (

  4. Wednesday, 9/11, at 9:00-10:00am — Place-based education: Making school more like a farmers market — David Sobel, Antioch University New England (

  5. Wednesday, 9/18, at 8:00-9:00am — Food as a theme in environmental education — Hanna Seimola, WWF Finland

  6. Wednesday, 9/18, at 9:00-10:00am — Environmental education in everyday life: Mediators between learning and behavior — Rachelle Gould, University of Vermont

  7. Wednesday, 9/25, at 8:00-9:00am — Eco-school program, Foundation for Environmental Education — Pramod Sharma (FEE), Copenhagen, Denmark

  8. Wednesday, 9/25, at 9:00-10:00am — Connection with Nature — Yu-Chi Tseng, National Taichung University of Education, Taiwan

  9. Wednesday, 10/2, at 8:00-9:00am — Environmental education and community engagement — Jen Klein, Mass Audubon

  10. Wednesday, 10/2, at 9:00-10:00am — Climate Change Education and Communication — Anne Armstrong, PhD student and online course instructor, Cornell University


Other information

Checklist and Requirements

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