Home > Outreach > Earth Science Literacy

Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI)

Project Description

The Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI), funded by the National Science Foundation (USA), has gathered and codified the underlying understandings of Earth sciences into a succinct document that will have broad-reaching applications in both public and private arenas. It establishes the “Big Ideas” and supporting concepts that all Americans should know about Earth sciences. The resulting Earth Science Literacy framework will also become part of the foundation, along with similar documents from the Oceans, Atmospheres and Climate communities, of a larger geoscience Earth Systems Literacy effort.

The Earth Science Literacy framework document of Big Ideas and supporting concepts is a community effort representing the current state-of-the-art research in Earth sciences. It has been written, evaluated, shaped, and revised by the top scientists working in Earth science. Because of its validity, authority, and succinct format, the ESL framework will be influential in a wide variety of scientific, educational, and political settings. Future governmental legislation will be guided by it, and future national and state educational standards will be based upon it.

This guide presents the big ideas of Earth science that all citizens should know, determined by the Earth science research and education communities. Several workshops held (USA) involving hundreds of scientists and educators from academia, government, and industry were dedicated to creating this document, and it has undergone an extensive period of public review. This document, representing the current scientific knowledge in Earth science, is helping to shape decisions by government and industry and helping to guide the direction of educational curricula. It is a work in progress because the scientific process continues to improve our understanding of Earth.