The BES education research agenda covers the gamut from exploring how individual students learn about their city as an ecosystem to an attempt to rigorously describe the formal and in-formal urban ecosystem education system in the metropolis as a whole. Also included are inquiries about ecology teaching and about the recruitment, professional development and training of the next generation of urban ecologists and environmental managers. Common to all of these studies is a belief in the vital role played by a dynamic interplay between knowledge and action. Student thinking is coalesced as they seek to apply ecological knowledge to real environmental problems in their neighborhoods and they then learn more from the results of their actions. Likewise, young scientists-in-the-making learn how to design an investigation and in so doing, they learn about the rewards and challenges of a research career.
Our education research seeks to fill surprising gaps in knowledge about ecology teaching and learning, and about the complex roles that the formal K-12 and non-formal environmental education systems play in fostering broad understanding of the city and its ecosystem. Our hope is that by formalizing and synthesizing these knowledge pools, students and teachers will have better tools for developing understandings, and the system as a whole will have stronger direction, coordination and power.