During the 21st century, today’s youth will become adults who face some of the greatest environmental challenges: adapting to climate change; conserving remaining biodiversity; protecting and accessing clean water, developing innovations in renewable energy; restoring the urban infrastructure and the natural systems upon which the built environment rests; preventing emergent infectious diseases while simultaneously engineering better medicines; and finding the balance of the requirement to feed the planet, while maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Thus, today’s secondary school students need a robust education to help them address these multifaceted and complex challenges that have critical environmental, socio-economic and political impacts. Their eventual quality of life and economic wellbeing is directly linked to their academic success, and this success is deeply connected to excellent education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
At Columbia University, Earth Institute’s current K-12 Programs include three National Science Foundation (NSF) funded initiatives: The Technology, Research, Ecology and Exchange for Students (TREES) Program, the Learning through Ecology and Environmental Field Studies (LEEFS) Program, and the School-based Ecology and Environmental Discoveries (SEEDS). One additional program is the Earth Institute Professional Development Program in Environmental Sustainability.