As mentioned previously, intense interest in the environment and in human influence on its degradation or sustainability have existed for less than two centuries. Some critical works that first began to explore the relationship between humanity and the environment include Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Henry David Thoreau’s books The Maine Woods and Walden and his seminal essay “Civil Disobedience,”3 John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra, and Mary Austin’s The Land of Little Rain. Speaking to these foundational works, writers in the mid-twentieth century began to publish new volumes that helped ignite the environmental and sustainability movement, including Rachel Carson with her ocean trilogy (Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us, and The Edge of the Sea) and her book Silent Spring, as well as Peter Matthiessen who published Cloud Forest and Under the Mountain Wall. These texts may be used to great effect in environmental studies settings, or in English Language Arts (ELA), social studies, or other survey classes.
More recent examinations of environmental and sustainability studies focus on contemporary issues facing the field. Some excellent choices in this area include Communicating Climate Change by Anne Armstrong, Marianne Krasny, and Jonathon Schuldt; Keeping Things Whole, edited by Joseph Coulson, Donald Whitfield, and Ashley Preston; and The Living Environmental Education by Wei-Ta Fang, Arba’at Hassan, and Ben LePage.
Other volumes that concentrate on some of the geopolitical issues challenging the field include Krasny’s Advancing Environmental Education Practice; Abele Longo’s Danilo Dolci, about the life and work of the Italian educator and activist and his outlook on environmental education; Laurie Rubin’s To Look Closely; and the collection Urban Environmental Education Review, edited by Alex Russ and Marianne Krasny. For a comprehensive view of many of the issues, problems, and considerations facing environmental and sustainability education programs, readers should consider Building STEM Skills through Environmental Education, edited by the authors of this essay (Stephen Schroth and Janese Daniels), and Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas?
3. Walden and “Civil Disobedience” were published in a combined edition in 2012. See: Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (Signet Classics, 2012).