Throughout North America and the world, people and organizations are increasingly aware of the emergence of ecological crises and the need for an ecologically literate citizenry. In contrast to previous decades when outdoor and environmental education were marginalized as peripheral subjects in schools and extracurricular areas like girl guides, scouting and camping, the possibilities for ecological education today are expanding to become a more substantive part of school, recreation, leisure,
cultural, and social service programs. This drive for eco-literacy is reflected in the growing demand for eco-tourism employees
with high levels of education to provide information, analysis, and education about ecology and environment in a manner that
supports increasingly critical learners. Ecological education also has significant potential for supporting locally-controlled
developments to preserve local and primary environments. While several educational theorists are advancing principles for
education which recommend pedagogical practices for ecological sustainability, students have few opportunities to be certified
for their knowledge in the area.
The program leading to the Certificate in Ecological Education provides candidates with the knowledge to create, coordinate, and deliver outdoor and environmental education programs. For the last one hundred years, outdoor and environmental education have been offered as two separate types of educational practice within the traditional Western educational experience. Outdoor education took place in the wilderness and often focused on "wilderness skills" such as canoeing, hiking, camping, and skiing. Environmental education, or nature study, focused on the environment. However, as we enter the twenty-first century, many theorists view these types of education within an integrated, holistic foundation called ecological
education. Ecological education emphasizes understanding human interdependency and connectedness to nature and the environment. This emphasis has significant roots in Indigenous traditions where outdoor and environmental education have always been fundamental parts of educational practices. Recognizing that ecological education programs should reflect a sensibility to the sacredness of Creation and to cultivating responsible and liberating human relationships, the Certificate in Ecological Education is constructed upon the following assumptions:
That ecological perspectives are central to learning about relationships among species, particularly the relationship among human beings and other members of the biotic community;
That all life forms are connected, interdependent, and, thus, in a constant relationship with each other, forming a great cycle of life;
That successful ecological education must include sufficient instruction in life-skills to make it possible for learners to reflect critically on their relationship with the land;
That both holistic and critical-theoretical approaches are valuable resources for deconstructing and analyzing existing outdoor and environmental education frameworks, perspectives, and practices;
That Indigenous, locally-derived knowledge and practices provide essential and appropriate sources for learning about living on the land in an ecologically sustainable fashion;
That the principles of equity with respect to gender, race, and species are central to the theory and practice of ecological education.