Earth System Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education

A Policy Statement of the American Meteorological Society
(Adopted by the AMS Council on 19 May 2014)

Complex environmental challenges confront society today, such as the protection and conservation of natural resources, prediction and mitigation of the effects of climate change, and resilient response to natural disasters.  The Earth is a system composed of subsystems linked by biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes that are governed by natural laws. Consequently, the wellbeing of human society is intimately connected to the behavior and evolution of the Earth system.  For these reasons, it is vital that precollege education in the United States and the world include the science of the Earth system.

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) recognizes the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in developing, maintaining, and growing an education “pipeline” for the purpose of creating a world-class 21st-century workforce in the United States and stresses the benefits of integrating Earth system science as a major component of STEM. Creating a  STEM education pipeline has been directly linked to the future U.S. national economy and security.  To ensure that U.S. students are able to meet these future challenges, improvements in precollege STEM education are needed to 1) foster an interest in and understanding of STEM disciplines and their relationship to Earth system science; 2) encourage students to pursue a career in STEM disciplines including Earth system science;  3) promote a lifelong understanding and appreciation of STEM and its role in advancing social and economic wellbeing; 4) increase STEM literacy to establish an informed public; and 5) expand opportunities to broaden participation and enhance diversity.

In the United States, STEM education policy is developed through the efforts of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), among others. Reports and publications, such as Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for America’s Future (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2010), and A Framework for K-12 Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 2011), have led educators to develop an integrated approach to precollege STEM education that recognizes the linkages between the various STEM disciplines.

AMS embraces this interdisciplinary philosophy and encourages the application of Earth system science as a core element of this approach.  AMS offers leadership to the organizations and institutions tasked with creating such guiding and supporting documents through fostering an environment of collaboration, enhancing dialog and communication, and providing scientific guidance and recommendations. This role continues AMS’s long and successful history of developing and providing educational materials and programs in support of understanding the Earth as a system, creating a national infrastructure for addressing issues in science education, and creating opportunities to broaden participation and diversity in the scientific community.

For decades, AMS has provided leadership in the design, development, and use of interdisciplinary approaches and cutting-edge technologies to examine and explore environmental issues of societal relevance. Based on this experience, AMS highly recommends and encourages the use of datasets, computer models and visualizations, remote-sensing technologies, and field experiences. These tools provide ever-evolving and challenging opportunities for students as they participate in meaningful scientific and technological experiences as a part of STEM education focusing on the Earth system utilizing an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and synergistic approach.

Precollege institutions should ensure that their STEM curricula are focused, rigorous, and articulated as a sequence of topics and performances.

Furthermore, AMS encourages institutions of higher learning to examine their admissions requirements to ensure that rigorous Earth system STEM coursework outside the traditional precollege science education sequence (i.e., physics, chemistry, and biology) be considered an important part of STEM education,  and as courses that satisfy precollege science education requirements.

The American Meteorological Society endorses the challenge that every precollege student be provided with the opportunity to learn about the Earth as a system through the incorporation of cutting- edge technologies as a part of STEM education, providing students with meaningful STEM learning experiences.

[This statement is considered in force until May 2018 unless superseded by a new statement issued by the AMS Council before this date.]