As our understanding of the global environment has deepened we have come to realize that environmental protection will require a substantial number of people working together. We have also come to understand that each person “doing their part” by cutting down on packaging or bicycling is important, but will not enough to address the challenges we face.
Unfortunately, we are far more comfortable making individual environmental choices than we are getting involved in local or national decision-making. This mindset is reflected in most environmental outreach.
The question is how do we change this dynamic?
Research tells us that young people develop their sense of civic efficacy between the ages of 10 and 14. If, during that time, we get them to use civic action to solve problems, then civic action will become their tool of choice. Research has also found that this experience is durable – meaning that young people who have civic experiences will continue to use civic means to solve problems into adulthood.
Earth Force has developed an educational framework that excels at developing the civic skills that young people need while at the same time deepening students understanding of STEM concepts that is essential for them to be successful in their careers and their communities. All of our programs are designed around this award-winning Community Action and Problem-Solving Process.
Community Action and Problem-Solving Process
The Community Action and Problem-Solving Process combines the best of civic engagement, environmental education, and STEM. Youth work together through educator facilitation to design and implement a project to explore root causes and address a policy or practice related to the environmental issue that they identify in their community. Earth Force’s focus on civic engagement helps learners to become active participants in their communities by conducting balanced research, building strong community partnerships, and making decisions as a democratic group.
Earth Force provides professional development around the Process for our partners and for formal and informal educators who want to integrate civic and environmental action into their classroom.
The Process takes students through six steps:
Discover: Step 1 – Community Environmental Inventory
Decide: Step 2 – Issue Selection
Discover: Step 3 – Policy and Community Practice Research
Decide: Step 4 – Goal and Strategy Selection
Act: Step 5 – Planning and Taking Civic Action
Conclude: Step 6 – Review and Share
Educators across the country use the Process to teach science, engineering, math, and humanities to their students. Earth Force and its partners prepare educators through a blended learning professional development program designed to train and support educators as they help students master science concepts by applying what they learn in the classroom to the problems they find in their communities. Local organizations play a key role in connecting educators to the community, creating hands-on learning experiences, and serving as experts in the local issues. Watch the following video to hear what educators say about the Community Action and Problem Solving Process: