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Understanding Environment

Understanding Environment


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Published by: Daisy on Jan 15, 2010
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The Supreme Court of India has ruled that a course on Environment be made compulsory
at the undergraduate level. Some universities have already initiated such a course; many
others introduced it in the academic year beginning 2004, and still others will follow
soon after. The basic purpose of the course is to create environmentally and socially
aware and responsible citizens.
The United Nations has declared the decade beginning 2005 as the Decade for Edu-
cation for Sustainable Development (ESD). ESD is seen as a process that develops vision,
builds capacity, and empowers people to make changes within their societies. The goal
is to create citizens who can actively participate in creating a sustainable world for them-
selves and for future generations.
This book tries to address both these situations.
To live sustainably, people need to:

Understand how the Earth’s natural systems work.
Access information about the state of the planet.
Aquire tools and skills for wise, efficient and productive environmental management.
Be committed to use the Earth’s resources sensitively and share its bounty equitably.

The different components of the book address these needs. The book introduces readers
to some of the key scientific concepts and issues related to environment. It also sensitizes
them to environmental issues and concerns. Environmental issues make better sense
when one can understand them in the context of one’s own cognitive sphere. The chapters
in this book provide several examples and a fair amount of data. We hope this will help
contextualize the information. We hope readers will also try to think about, or make an
effort to find out about, similar or related examples from their own region, state, district
or neighbourhood to better understand the issues.
The book contains several ‘boxes’ of information. The boxed items in the text have
been introduced to serve two functions—to expand on ideas mentioned in the text and
to present related examples. They are also intended to provide a stimulus to readers to
explore on their own and find out more about the topic. The book also contains several



case studies. These highlight examples of individual and collective actions by citizens
that have ‘made a difference’.
At the end of each chapter are three sections for self-learning and evaluation: Questions,
Exercises, and Discuss. The first section includes a list of questions, some of which are
intended to get readers to review the key ideas introduced in the chapter and to test
comprehension. Others are more open-ended and have been framed to encourage ana-
lytical and critical thinking. The exercises require reading and analysis of information,
or gathering information through library research, field visits, surveys or interviews.
The section Discuss requires students to reflect on statements and think critically; in
some cases to think about the pros and cons of an issue and take a position. We hope that
readers will enjoy the exercises and find the questions challenging but not daunting!
We also hope that the book generates enough interest in the readers so that they follow
environmental debates in the media, and that it creates enough concern so that they
question their own behaviour from time to time, out of a concern for the environment.
Our attempt has been to provide current data and information. But the rapidity of
economic, political, social, and technological change and the constant flow of new research
findings make the goal of providing up-to-date information elusive. We are aware that
by the time the book is printed, some of the information will have changed. By the time
the book reaches the readers, some more information and analysis might no longer be
current. We are confident, however, that the ‘information age’ readers will seek out and
keep abreast with the latest information and interpretation.
All the chapters were reviewed by subject experts to ensure accuracy of information
and quality. However, some errors might still remain for which the editors take full re-
sponsibility. We hope that our readers will bring these to our attention so that we can
correct them in future editions.


The test of how relevant or useful this book is lies in using it. We look forward to sug-
gestions from readers, what they think about this book, and what additional information
and features they would like to see in this book in the future. Please send us this infor-
mation at highereducation@ceeindia.org or write to us at Higher Education Programme,
Centre for Environment Education, Thaltej Tekra, Ahmedabad 380 054.

Teachers’ guide

To help teachers use this textbook more effectively, notes, suggestions and support
material, including teachers’ guides for some of the chapters, are available from
the Higher Education Programme, Centre for Environment Education, Thaltej Tekra,
Ahmedabad 380 054.


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