Background/Question/Methods The Four-Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) Framework was developed with a focus on the key components of eco-literacy that should be taught in undergraduate ecology courses. While such courses typically serve as a foundation of the curriculum for ecology majors, eco-literacy advocates insist that such knowledge is essential for everyone. A more eco-literate public—one with knowledge of ecological structure and function, an awareness of how ecological processes are vital to human well-being, and an understanding of how human activities influence ecological processes—would be better able to make decisions leading to more sustainable interactions with the ecosystems that support it. While not often the target group of eco-literacy approaches, students with majors in the creative arts and communications are well positioned to play a role in communicating ecological issues to general audiences and policy makers. Here, we investigate whether and how the 4DEE framework is incorporated into ecology courses at arts-focused colleges by surveying faculty teaching ecology at such institutions.
Results/Conclusions We will report on the responses of faculty teaching ecology at art-focused colleges, characterizing their awareness of the 4DEE Framework, the extent to which they integrate the 4DEE Framework into their courses, and the ways that they modify the 4DEE Framework to achieve other objectives, including general science literacy in what may be a student’s only science course. Preliminary findings from our collective experience teaching at Emerson College, a small liberal arts college focusing on arts and communication, indicate that ecology courses for non-majors often use study material and exercises that tie ecology to other student interests, including their majors. The flexibility required to adapt a curriculum to other student interests and institutional needs can be a laboratory for innovation in teaching ecology.