• Center for Global Environmental Education

  •  CGEE's History

    CGEE's History

    Hamline's Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE) was founded as part of Hamline University's Graduate School of Education in 1990 with an inspired, larger-than-life learning adventure. Founding director Jennifer Gasperini started the environmental education program in the aftermath of engaging more than 15 million students worldwide in the heady excitement of following Will Steger's 1990 Trans-Antarctica Expedition adventure. 

    For several more years the promise of adventure learning was advanced through the development of educational programs that focused on bicycle expeditions led by Dan Buettner through tropical Africa and Central America, sailing adventures on the open seas, and a climbing expedition on the Antarctic continent. Celebrated week-long summer institutes on related topics drew to Hamline's campus noteworthy experts and teachers from throughout North America.

    Gradually, this adventure-learning model evolved from travels to distant, exotic destinations to adventures closer to home. In Hamline's internationally recognized Thousand Friends of Frogs program, founded in 1996, students studied frog populations in their own backyards. Then they shared their scientific data with prominent scientists concerned about population decline and increased malformities among Earth's amphibians.

    The Self Expressing Earth program, created in 1997 by nationally acclaimed poet John Caddy, also heightened sensitivities to local environments while teaching principles of ecology through the creation of writing, art, dance, and music.

    The Rivers of Life program (1997) used an extensive web site to examine issues facing the Mississippi River while engaging students and teachers worldwide in learning about streams in their own back yards. An annual student expedition aboard a hand-built 50-foot sternwheeler on the Mississippi, which was followed via the Internet by students around the globe, culminated the annual program.

    CGEE worked to establish graduate credit for teachers engaged in these and other environmental education programs. Credit is now offered as part of a large selection of classroom courses, intensive summer institutes, graduate certificate programs, and Internet-based classes in science education and environmental education. CGEE also helped established the Masters in Education: Natural Science and Environmental Education degree which began accepting students in autumn, 2002. That program is now part of the Advanced Degrees Department, which, along with CGEE, is now part of Hamline’s School of Education.

    Near the turn of the millennium, Hamline's Center for Global Environmental Education also expanded its citizen education and media production programs. These have included an award-winning traveling exhibit on water quality developed with more than 40 partner organizations, called collectively the Watershed Partners, and an acclaimed annual site-specific public dance performance, Solstice River, by Hamline's Artist in Residence, choreographer Marylee Hardenbergh. Environmental education at Hamline has won widespread recognition and many awards for the in-house production of high quality educational media products, including multimedia kiosk programs and websites, CD ROMS, and numerous videos. Some of these have included the Waters to the Sea series, Water Down the Drain, Urban Water Cycle, Chased by the Light & Courage and Light, and Uncle Sam Works Here. Projects have been both Minnesota-based and in other parts of the country.

    During the first decade of the new century, CGEE received a $3 million, three-year grant (2007-2010) to hold high-quality science institutes for teachers around the state through the Minnesota Science Teachers Education Project (MnSTEP). The MnSTEP program included two free licensure programs in physics (PhASE) and chemistry (ChemCAL) for teachers needing these additional licenses in order to help their schools meet state guidelines for offering physics and chemistry to middle and high school students. CGEE also began offering customized professional development to schools and teachers in science and inquiry.

    CGEE continues today to fulfill its mission of fostering environmental literacy and stewardship in citizens of all ages through its four cornerstones, graduate education and professional development, K-12 classroom resources, community outreach, and educational multimedia production. Explore CGEE on the website to learn more about current projects in each of these areas