Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler


curriculum, ecology, educational framework, environmental literacy, justice


This paper describes the creation and validation of a new educational construct. Socioecological literacy, or earth smarts, describes the qualities we need to justly maintain or improve our quality of life in a changing world. It was created using construct analysis techniques and systems tools, drawing on an extensive, transdisciplinary body of literature. Concepts related to environmental, ecological and scientific literacy, sustainability and citizenship were combined with educational frameworks, new research in science education, and modern cognitive psychology. After the initial formulation, the results were considered by a variety of experts and professionals from the fields of ecology, environmental science and education, using surveys, conference presentations and interviews. The resulting qualitative and quantitative feedback was used to refine and validate the framework. Four domains emerged from the analysis: concepts, competencies, sense of place, and values. The first two are common in formal education, although many of the more specific components that emerged are not adequately addressed. The second two domains are unlikely to be achieved solely in traditional educational settings, although they emerged as equally important. Sense of place includes affective components such as self-efficacy, while values includes moral development, respect, and justice as fairness. To make culturally and ecologically appropriate localization as accessible as possible, the earth smarts framework ( is deliberately nonpartisan and was designed using free and open-source software. It can help educators, policy makers, and researchers interested in more resilient, just and adaptable communities to coordinate their efforts, particularly in the nexus between formal and informal education, which have different strengths and weaknesses.