York U. forum focuses on ecological illiteracy among Ontario students


TORONTO, February 24, 2003 -- An environmental education forum at York University will examine how Ontario students are in danger of becoming ecologically illiterate under the present education system.

"The Future of Environmental and Ecological Education in Ontario", which takes place Thursday, February 27, 1 to 4 p.m., will focus on Ontario’s track record as an international leader in environmental and outdoor education, and the challenges it faces in light of recent cuts to these programs.

Gordon Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario will deliver the keynote address, "Reviving Environmental Education in Ontario: Facing the Challenges of Sustainable Development". Panelists will include Ontario MPPs Mike Colle (L--Eglinton-Lawrence), critic for the Greater Toronto Area (including public transit and sprawl) and Rosario Marchese (NDP--Trinity-Spadina), education critic.

William Wong, a grade 12 student from A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in North York will give the closing presentation "The Need for Environmental Education in Ontario's Curriculum: A Student's Perspective", which will examine how environmental education is vital for fostering future generations of environmentally conscious citizens.

Joe Sheridan, a professor in York's Faculties of Environmental Studies (FES) and Education, and one of the forum's organizers, says that Ontario is rapidly falling behind other provinces in environmental education. "In addition to recent cuts to outdoor education at the elementary school level, Environmental Science is no longer taught as a single-focus subject in the secondary school curriculum, and Geography and Science teachers are giving very little time to teaching ecological concepts. This strengthens the impression that environmental and sustainability education have become increasingly marginal within the current curriculum guidelines."

He adds that growing ecological illiteracy within the province's school system is reinforced by the absence of environmental and sustainability teaching in the education of provincial teacher candidates.

The forum is hosted by York's Faculties of Environmental Studies and Education in association with the Transformative Learning Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and Green Teacher Magazine. It will take place in the Stedman Bldg, room 120E. Those unable to attend the forum can watch a live Webcast at http://www.yorku.ca/fes/index.asp and submit questions and comments to the panel by email.


For further information, please contact:

Prof. Joe Sheridan Max Brem, Director Ken Turriff
FES / Faculty of Education External Relations, FES Media Relations
York University York University York University
416-736-2100, ext. 81197 416-736-2100, ext. 22635 416-736-2100, ext. 22086
joe_sheridan@edu.yorku.ca cell: 416-417-9877 kturriff@yorku.ca