Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New center inspires curiosity, community, and action in environmental science

CU Boulder-based Center for Education, Engagement, and Evaluation connects science and people

A mentor showing four students how set-up and film a video with a mountain visible in the background
Students learn about filmmaking during the Lens on Climate Change summer program in 2016.
- Robin Strelow

Increasingly, people are searching for ways to build community and to make sense of and respond to today's environmental challenges. To meet that need, a team of educational researchers, evaluators, curriculum developers, and outreach and engagement experts at CU Boulder are launching a new center—the CIRES Center for Education, Engagement, and Evaluation (CEEE). Formerly known as the CIRES Education & Outreach program, the new center is dedicated to three broad goals: excellence and inclusion in environmental science education, career development and training for scientists, and engaging with diverse audiences.

“Our goal is to bridge the gap between scientific research and societal impact,” said Anne Gold, director of CEEE. “We want to empower people to become informed agents of change in environmental challenges.”

CEEE (pronounced “C-triple-E”) currently runs over 30 projects focused on connecting environmental science and people to inspire curiosity, community, and action. The center’s education work is innovative, culturally responsive, and evidence-based. For example, the HEART Force curriculum uses small-group activities and scenario-based games to empower students, teachers, and communities to build resilience to environmental hazards. CEEE engages with diverse audiences, including through We are Water, which brings a traveling exhibition that weaves together community knowledge and locally relevant science topics about water to rural, Indigenous, and Latino communities in the desert Southwest.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice are core values of the center. CEEE is dedicated to broadening participation in environmental science through research opportunities and education experiences for learners and communities that have been historically underserved by science education. The new center strives to make environmental science more welcoming and inclusive, for example, through the Polar Science Early Career Community Office, which provides career development and training opportunities to early career researchers in the polar sciences.

Evaluation and educational research are central to all aspects of CEEE’s work. A recent publication led by CEEE showed that immersive research experiences inspire students to explore their science identity and build a sense of belonging in the science community. Efforts like these lay the foundations for the team and others in the science education field to design impactful and inclusive learning experiences.

“We hope our work inspires a new generation of learners to come together to address environmental challenges with confidence and understanding and contribute to making the environmental and geosciences welcoming and inclusive,” Gold said.

CEEE is hosting an open house on February 28, 2024, from 3:30 - 5:00 pm. Learn more below.


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