Ecological literacy and beyond: Problem-based learning for future professionals

Thomas M. Lewinsohn, José Luiz Attayde, Carlos Roberto Fonseca, Gislene Ganade, Leonardo Ré Jorge, Johannes Kollmann, Gerhard E. Overbeck, Paulo Inácio Prado, Valério D. Pillar, Daniela Popp, Pedro L.B. da Rocha, Wesley Rodrigues Silva, Annette Spiekermann, Wolfgang W. Weisser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Ecological science contributes to solving a broad range of environmental problems. However, lack of ecological literacy in practice often limits application of this knowledge. In this paper, we highlight a critical but often overlooked demand on ecological literacy: to enable professionals of various careers to apply scientific knowledge when faced with environmental problems. Current university courses on ecology often fail to persuade students that ecological science provides important tools for environmental problem solving. We propose problem-based learning to improve the understanding of ecological science and its usefulness for real-world environmental issues that professionals in careers as diverse as engineering, public health, architecture, social sciences, or management will address. Courses should set clear learning objectives for cognitive skills they expect students to acquire. Thus, professionals in different fields will be enabled to improve environmental decision-making processes and to participate effectively in multidisciplinary work groups charged with tackling environmental issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Conceptual underpinnings
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Problem-based learning
  • Teaching ecology


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