Civic Environmentalism: Integrating Social Studies and Environmental Education through Curricular Models

Matthew S Hollstein, Gregory A. Smith


Presently, we are being inundated with climate news and its ever-expanding impact on the world around us. We are at a tipping point and how we choose to respond will have long-term consequences for current and future generations. Historically, we have responded with the view that these issues are scientific and not social and have been addressed through scientific advancements. However,  this approach has fallen short. Specifically, this is due to social studies and civic responsibility being framed as entirely separate from environmental education and environmental responsibility. Therefore, we need to reframe our thinking and view these areas as cohesive and civic responsibility includes environmental responsibility. The purpose of this paper is to describe the need for integrating social studies education and environmental education to foster a new framework of civic environmentalism. Civic environmentalism is the extension of civic responsibility to include all human and non-human life forms and the entire natural world around us. We showcase that this can be achieved through new ways of curricular modeling to create an integration between these two areas which have been traditionally viewed as separate. We present the frameworks of two nations who have started to reframe their perspectives as well as various practitioner models. We believe that civic environmentalism and an accepted responsibility to the environment is essential for all of the world’s inhabitants.


Civics, Citizenship, Environmental education, Civic environmentalism

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