Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards is a resource for educators, parents, and all who work to support children’s and youth’s development as earth stewards – those who will act to heal our planet. The 21st century has brought two major crises related to the natural world, namely, the environmental breakdown crisis and the crisis of so many of today’s children and youth being disconnected from nature. The extent of these crises can cultivate despair.
However, there is reason to hope. The amazing advances in dynamic systems thinking among all branches of science, developments in environmental ethics, a reawakening to the wisdom of indigenous cultures, the place- and project- based educational programs aimed at eco-literacy, the youth activism movement — these and other developments give reason to hope that we will eventually succeed in tackling the crises.
But for success to happen, we’ll need the next generation to continue what has only just begun. And for that to happen, the supports needed go far beyond a list of methods for developing skills and imparting information – because a whole new mind-set is what is needed, a mind-set that sees us humans as being not above nature but in nature – as participants needing to be good citizens in a complex web of life that took billions of years to develop and that keeps our planet healthy. That’s the aim of TES – to help with this mission to foster not only skills and knowledge and ways to care for the natural world, but also to foster a wonder-full way of being alive!
The following infographic may help better understand key terms that define the development of earth stewardship and the TES mission:
Key Terms that Help Define Earth Stewardship
and the TES Mission
"Developmental" here refers to the qualitative differences in the ways children and youth connect to the natural world and show care for the natural world as they become earth stewards – particularly in the ways they experience wonder, think about the natural world, and take action to address problems having to do with the natural world-- but also in the ways they develop an identity as citizens of the planet.
Eco-Restoration and Eco-Literacy
While curbing carbon emissions is essential for caring for planet Earth, so too is becoming eco-literate and restoring Nature’s ways of keeping our planet healthy. Furthermore, focusing more on eco-restoration and eco-literacy aligns better with children’s natural interests in the natural world.
An International Perspective
The environmental movement is a worldwide movement with all kinds of good programs and groups working to support the development of earth stewards. Therefore, adopting an international perspective allows for greater learning and more powerful actions than when focusing only on programs and groups within a single country or particular region.
Citizen of the Planet
While local actions and international movements are needed to restore habitats, clean up pollution, and address climate related problems, it is clear that sustaining local actions and international movements calls for an identity as a citizen of the planet, an identity of being a participant in a complex, wonder-filled web of life where cooperation, diversity and inter-dependency are essential to the health of all.. Having such an identity provides special meaning and fuel for earth stewardship so as to make earth stewardship a life-long way of living .
Text by George Scarlett, illustrations by Eva Heaps
George is Editor of Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards. He is also a Sr. Lecturer in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and a Tisch Sr. Fellow at Tufts University, on the executive committee of the Tufts Environmental Studies Program, a core member of the advocacy group - Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, and a researcher at the New England Aquarium’s youth programs.
Eva HeapsArtistic Director and Website Designer
Eva is the Artistic Director and designer of the Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards website. Eva is a graphic designer and graduate of the BFA program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Eva is a multi-disciplinary artist focusing in video and installation art, much of which deals with the systemic problems in American culture which fuel climate change.
Leah HarriganStaff Writer
Leah is passionate about creating inclusive and engaging spaces to learn, work, and play. She is an advocate for social and emotional development and received her MA from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Leah now oversees programming for youth impacted by foster care as a program manager at Silver Lining Mentoring.
Shuxin FanSocial Media Coordinator
Shuxin is a sophomore studying Computer Science and Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. She loves connecting to people of different cultures and interests. She is passionate about philosophy, developmental psychology, and building cross-disciplinary connections.
Freedom BairdEducational Technology Advisor
Freedom is an educational technology specialist in Tufts Educational Technology Services, which is a sub-set of TTS. She supports faculty in their use of educational technologies, and helps faculty improve their approaches to teaching. She is also an artist whose work centers around the intersection of humans and nature as agents, objects, and constructs.
Ellen DubreuilArticle Illustrator
Ellen Dubreuil is an artist who lives in Somerville, MA. She grew up in Massachusetts and California and went to school in Colorado, Massachusetts and Manhattan. She currently teaches in the Illustration & Visual Narrative Department at Lesley Art + Design in Cambridge. She’s available for freelance work and commissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marion ReynoldsChildren's Literature Advisor
Marion is a long-time early childhood educator and expert in children’s literature. For the past several decades she has taught the children’s literature course in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Studies and Human Development at Tufts University and published reviews of children’s books in major publications.
David SobelEducation Advisor
David is a Professor Emeritus at Antioch University New England. He consults and speaks widely on place-based education and on nature-based early childhood education. He has authored nine books and more than 70 articles focused on children and nature and served on the editorial boards of Encounter, Community Works Journal, Orion Afield, and Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly..
Raymond BarnettScience Advisor
For over three decades, Ray taught Field Ecology and Mammalogy at California State University, Chico, where he spearheaded a drive to found The Gateway Science Museum which opened in 2008 and now lists Ray as the official "Father of the Museum". Ray has authored numerous articles in scientific journals, written books on John Muir and Taoism, and authored several Sherlock Holmes novels.
Alberto MedinaCommunications Advisor
Alberto is the Communications Specialist at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. In that role, he oversees a wide range of communications tasks. Alberto has been a freelance writer and editor, and has previously worked at national newspapers in his native Puerto Rico and at multinational publishing houses.
TES is sponsored by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life which is housed at Tufts
University and provides guidance and financial support for a wide variety of faculty and
student projects aimed at promoting active citizenship.