At Kenyon, we build environmental literacy through coursework and activities that foster a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the interconnections between human prosperity and ecological health. We explore humanity’s complex relationship to natural systems in the past, present, and future. Our work is grounded in our campus community and local landscape, but it transcends scope and scale.
The foundations of environmental literacy include:
Sound knowledge of environmental history and processes is critical for understanding current environmental issues, predicting future impacts, and taking responsible action. It allows us to recognize complex interconnections between human and natural systems, ask substantive questions, apply theory and methodology, and critically analyze data and ideas.
The environment should not just be understood as a distant wilderness or theoretical construct, but as an integral part of our personal experience. Direct contact with natural, non-human environments provides an embodied sense of place that transforms us from observers to participants in the natural world.
Understanding the interplay between humanity and the environment that sustains us requires a broad range of expertise. By building analytical, observational, and descriptive skills and cultivating aesthetic appreciation and diverse philosophical viewpoints, we develop our capacity to investigate environmental issues and inform decisions from as many perspectives as possible.
We acknowledge the intrinsic value of the natural world and the fact that diverse cultural, historical, and philosophical ways of knowing can lead to responsible environmental stewardship. We recognize that values must be based in knowledge and consistent with the goal of sustaining human existence as part of a functioning, healthy ecosystem.
Responsible stewardship requires making decisions and taking action in a complex, uncertain, and changing landscape. Because we recognize that actions generally involve tradeoffs in such complex systems, our individual and collective behavior should reflect the knowledge, competencies, experiences, and values gained through study, contemplation, and interaction with the natural world and each other.