News Release

What everyone should know about Earth sciences summarized in free NSF-funded e-booklet

Earth Science Literacy Initiative explores 'Big Ideas' at core of current research

Book Announcement

Washington University in St. Louis

Earth Science Literacy Principles

image: This is the cover of ESLI Earth Science Literacy Principles. view more 

Credit: Earth Science Literacy Initiative

If you're clueless about petrology, paleobiology and plate tectonics, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI) have just released a free pamphlet offering a concise primer on what all Americans should know about the Earth sciences.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and compiled over the last year by ESLI, the booklet represents an attempt to gather and codify the underlying understandings of Earth sciences into a succinct document that will have broad-reaching applications in both public and private arenas.

"The Earth Science Literacy framework document of Big Ideas and supporting concepts was a community effort representing the current state-of-the-art research in Earth sciences," said Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., chair of ESLI and associate professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Earth Science Literacy Initiative explores 9 'Big Ideas" at core of current research

The new Earth Science Literacy Principles establish nine "Big Ideas"� and 7-10 supporting concepts for each, which together cover the essential information that everyone should know about the Earth sciences. The resulting Earth Science Literacy framework will also become part of the foundation, along with similar documents from the ocean, atmosphere and climate communities, of a larger geoscience "Earth Systems Science" literacy effort.

The scope of the new ESLI Earth Science Literacy Principles spans a wide variety of research fields that are funded through the NSF-EAR program. These fields include geobiology and low-temperature geochemistry, geomorphology and land-use dynamics, geophysics, hydrologic sciences, petrology and geochemistry, sedimentary geology and paleobiology, and tectonics.

The project included a 2-week online workshop with over 350 participants and multiple revisions supervised by a dedicated organizing committee of a dozen Earth scientists and educators.

"It was written, evaluated, shaped, and revised by the top scientists working in Earth science," Wysession said. "Because of its validity, authority, and succinct format, the ESLI document will be influential in a wide variety of scientific, educational, and political domains. New textbooks and curricula are already being developed using it, and future governmental legislation will be guided by it."


More information on the EARTH SCIENCE LITERACY INITIATIVE and a downloadable version of the free booklet can be found at the web site

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