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How Our Children can Gain Ecological Intelligence

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Elena Luedy

Professor Cohen




Ecological Intelligence

What is ecological intelligence? The word Ecological, according to Merriam Webster is “a science that deals with the relationships between groups of living things and their environments” and intelligence is “the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations”. To combine these definitions, one would understand Ecological Intelligence to be an understanding the relationship between living things and their environment. This definition proves that environmental intelligence combines not only hard science but many other disciplines as well. In order for one to have ecological intelligence, therefore, one must be able to look at something through multiple lenses.

Often times in primary schools teachers will teach their students subjects in very limited boxes. For example, a teacher will have their students study math and science but the two won’t be related. What Latour argues in his writing, Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene is that students should be taught in a holistic manner.  Instead of the rote memorization of scientific fact, Latour argues we should teach our children the intersectionality of these subjects. By doing this, we not only cater to a wider variety of children’s interests, but teach children that everything is interrelated, you cannot have social issues without environmental or economic.

Personally, I agree with Latour. I have found in my many academic years that taking courses that I may not be as interested in their initial subject, that when combined with another subject that I do find interesting is much easier to comprehend. For example when I took chemistry, I found it dull and hard to comprehend. However when I took environmental science I found it fascinating, as it not only dealt with elements and chemical equations, but also how they reacted with organisms and their environment. This would be similar to Van Jones’ argument that we should modify our speech to different audiences. If we taught children about the environment from a way that they were interested, then we could get them to be more environmentally conscious.

If we call the study of the environment just environmental science, only those people who are interested in hard science would take it. If you called a course social environmentalism, people who are more interested interested in the social sciences might take it. What we should do with environmental studies is trick people into taking the courses by showcasing how the subject they are interested in relates. It is important to have people from different disciplines to connect together for a common goal, as it allows people to provide different perspectives to solve environmental problems.  Many problems are multifaceted, and it is illogical to face a problem without analyzing the many different layers that they hold.

            In order to make a change, we must start with our children. Yes, it is a cliché, but our children are our future. If we teach them at a young age to be open minded when solving a problem and to take into account all the factors that could be influencing the situation, it will be far easier for them to completely defeat the problem. Global climate change is one such problem, and without the ecological intelligence needed, the problem will only get worse. It is imperative that we teach our children from a holistic approach so that they have the tools necessary to combat climate change.


Works Cited

Bruno Latour. Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene. New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter 2014): 1-18.

"Ecology." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Elizabeth Kolbert, Greening the Ghetto: Can a Remedy Serve for both Global Warming and Poverty? The New Yorker (January 12, 2009).

"Intelligence." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Naomi Klein, What’s really at stake at the Paris climate conference now marches are banned, The Guardian (November 20, 2015).

Ursula LeGuin. Vaster than Empires, and More Slow. The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short Stories.  New York: Harper and Row, 1975. 148-178.