Campus and Community:

Looking for Common Ground


Michael Andrew Todd



During the nineteen sixties and seventies, the environmental movement was successful in lobbying for and passing major environmental laws such as the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). These new laws required an unprecedented level of public involvement. However, environmentalists failed to advocate successfully for an effective national environmental education act that could educate the public about the importance and necessity of major environmental laws and sustainable growth management. The result of this failure contributed to the level of increasing ecological illiteracy (lack of knowledge about the natural and built environments) within the general public and a successful backlash by the wise-use movement in the late eighties and nineties. This essay examines the roles formal (colleges and universities) and informal (environmental organizations) institutions play regarding a crisis of knowledge about environmental issues within the general population. The essay then concludes by proposing a linkage between the campus and the community through a fully integrated environmental studies program that unifies the educational experiences and needs of children, community members and environmental professionals.