» Environmental Decisionmaking

Technology and Environmental Decision-Making: A critical-thinking approach to 7 environmental challenges

ATEEC and MIT teamed up to produce Technology and Environmental Decision-Making: A critical-thinking approach to 7 environmental challenges. This is a series of seven high quality instructional modules developed by researchers and instructional designers. The series, aimed at college and high school instructors, delivers science-based background information and the latest research on a variety of environmental concerns. The modules provide a refresher for the instructor on the scientific background of each environmental issue. Additionally, they promote teaching critical thinking through the inclusion of resources and activities for use in the classroom. Environmental decision-making—it sounds complicated. It sounds like something that should be left to the experts. And environmental issues can be complicated. But environmental decision-making in a society shares some of the key processes that individuals use to make shared decisions on a daily basis. If we compare the societal decision-making process to that of a family, the issue becomes a much more manageable concept. Picture a typical family problem—a 16- year-old gets his driver’s license and his parents have told him that he will need to pay for his own gas and car insurance. Until now, his weekly allowance from household chores has been adequate for his expenses. He decides to get a part-time job to pay for the extra expense of driving a car, and his parents approve—a fairly straightforward problem, decision, and resolution. More often, however, solutions are not this simple. What may at first seem like a straightforward decision can be affected by variables that complicate the matter considerably. Imagine the same basic problem, this time with added factors. In this family, one parent works second shift and the other parent takes frequent business trips. The 16-year-old boy has the responsibility of watching a 10-year-old sibling most evenings, and a part-time job would require that he work in the evenings. In this instance, there are more people involved in the problem—more stakeholders. The solution in this case is less obvious and will need to respond to the concerns of all stakeholders. Read More

Tree Benefit Calculator

The Tree Benefit Calculator allows anyone to make a simple estimation of the benefits individual street-side trees provide. This tool is based on i-Tree’s street tree assessment tool called STREETS. With inputs of location, species and tree size, users will get an understanding of the environmental and economic value trees provide on an annual basis. The Tree Benefit Calculator is intended to be simple and accessible. As such, this tool should be considered a starting point for understanding trees’ value in the community, rather than a scientific accounting of precise values. Read More

U.S. EPA YouTube Channel

EPA’s mission is to protect health and to safeguard the natural environment upon which life depends. Since December 2, 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment. Read More

Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change (USGS)

The surface of the Earth is always changing. Some changes like earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and landslides happen quickly and other changes, such as most erosional processes, happen slowly over time. It’s often hard to see these changes from ground level. A much broader view is needed, and multiple views that provide a record of change over time are especially helpful. Earthshots shows you how satellite data are used to track these changes. The Landsat series of Earth-observing satellites has acquired data for monitoring the planet’s landmasses since 1972. The vast archive containing millions of Landsat scenes is managed at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, SD. The images displayed in Earthshots are examples of Landsat data that help scientists worldwide understand more about how both people and nature are changing the landscape. Each Earthshots page features a different location from around the world and explains the changes that the satellite images reveal. For example, the Mount St. Helens page shows what the mountain looked like before and after the 1980 eruption. Furthermore, it shows recent images that demonstrate how the forest is recovering. Read More

Identifying and Improving Green Spaces on a College Campus: A Photovoice Study

Research suggests that a large percent of college students experience stress due to the demands of college life. Campus health professionals use a wide range of interventions to reduce student stress; however, the ability of green spaces on campuses to alleviate stress is often lacking in college health programs and related research. In this study, photovoice methodology was used to conduct a community-based participatory research project in order to identify and improve campus green spaces that students frequent for stress relief. Participants included 45 undergraduate students enrolled in an emotional health course. Students were instructed to take photos that addressed two open-ended questions: (1) What green spaces on campus do you visit to alleviate stress? (2) How could the green spaces on campus be improved for alleviating stress? Afterward, students analyzed and placed their photos into distinct themes. Results showed that students enjoyed green spaces that featured both man-made structures (e.g., swings, fountains, benches) and exclusively natural areas (e.g., magnolia trees, campus parks). Students indicated that campus areas in need of improvement for alleviating stress included trash cans, areas lacking landscaping, piles of cigarette butts, and a dilapidated campus tower. Spaces that helped alleviate stress and spaces that needed improvement were both reflective of Attention Restoration Theory. At the culmination of the project, the students shared their findings with the campus community at a photo exhibit. During the exhibit, students’ voices were heard by campus administrators in positions of authority (e.g., chancellor, director of Facilities Operations, grounds crew supervisor). Read More

Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing out our Best

We humans are difficult animals. We are the source of environmental degradation, the culprits of resource decline. We are reluctant to trust and easily angered. However, we are also the source of inspiration, compassion, and creative solutions. What brings out the reasonable side of our capacity? The Reasonable Person Model (RPM) offers a simple framework for considering essential ingredients in how people, at their best, deal with one another and the resources on which we all rely. RPM is a hopeful and engaging framework that helps us understand and address a wide diversity of issues. The 20 chapters of Fostering Reasonableness provide the conceptual foundations of the framework and applications examining contexts as diverse as a region, organization, the classroom, finding common ground in resource planning, education in the prison environment, greening in the inner city. Our collective hope in putting the book together is to encourage a way of seeing, a way of understanding and examining circumstances that might lead to more wholesome, adaptive, and effective means of addressing the big and little issues that depend on humanity’s reasonableness. Read More

Corporate Power in a Global Economy

Standard economic theory fails to address the economic and political significance of modern multinational corporations. In this module explanations of firm growth based on economies of scale and scope are supplemented with a discussion of the transnational mobility and influence of large corporations. The social and environmental responsibilities of multinationals are considered, with an emphasis on externalities and the need for a “triple bottom line.” The module concludes with a discussion of ways to encourage large firms to adopt goals that are aligned with the broader goals of society. The student reading consists of 36 pages which includes discussion questions, glossary, references, and additional resources. Read More

Environmental Justice: Income, Race, and Health (teaching module)

Data and case studies are presented illustrating how minority and low-income communities often bear a disproportionate share of environmental costs. The uses and limitations of economic analysis are explored, including the topics of valuing human life and health and the difference between efficiency and equity. The module addresses issues of environmental justice both in the United States and internationally. Suggestions for more equitable environmental policies are presented. The student reading consists of 24 pages which includes discussion questions, glossary, web links, references, and suggestions for additional readings. Read More

Trade and the Environment

This module, based on chapter 19 from Harris and Roach’s Textbook, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: A Contemporary Approach, presents an analysis combining trade theory with the theory of externalities to show how the basic principles of gains from trade must be modified in a real world with many environmental complications. The institutional and policy issues involved in considerations of sustainable trade and “greening” global environmental institutions encourage the student to place the theoretical issues in the context of real-world policy. The student reading consists of 24 pages which includes discussion questions, references, and web links. Read More

Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning

Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC) defines a framework for education: a framework for interdisciplinary, collaborative, student-centered, hands-on, and engaged learning. It has begun to transform curricula in a growing number of schools across the United States and may have the potential to significantly improve k-12 education in America. This report presents the results of a nationwide study; describes the major concepts and assumptions underlying EIC; explores a range of successful EIC programs across the United States; identifies the major characteristics of successful EIC programs; and, analyzes the implications of EIC-based education for student learning and instruction. Read More


EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.


EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

Contact ATEEC 563.441.4087 or by email ateec@eicc.edu