California's Environmental Principles and Concepts

California's Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C) examine the interactions and interdependence of human societies and natural systems, and are the foundation of the environmental content taught in the EEI Curriculum. Approved in 2004, these 5 principles and 14 supporting concepts were developed by more than 100 scientists and technical experts.

At least one EP&C is taught in each EEI unit through custom learning objectives, leading to mastery of the content standards. As students are taught the learning objectives and are mastering each standard, they are also learning the EP&C. In the EEI Curriculum, your students' knowledge of the EP&C builds and spirals through their educational years, strengthening their environmental literacy.

While the bedrock of the EEI Curriculum, equally significant is that these very EP&C must be addressed in all future California textbooks adopted by the state.

View a detailed description of the Environmental Principles and the corresponding concepts below.

People Depend on Natural Systems
The continuation and health of individual human lives and of human communities and societies depend on the health of the natural systems that provide essential goods and ecosystem services.

Concept A. Students need to know that the goods produced by natural systems are essential to human life and to the functioning of our economies and cultures.
Concept B. Students need to know that the ecosystem services provided by natural systems are essential to human life and to the functioning of our economies and cultures.
Concept C. Students need to know that the quality, quantity, and reliability of the goods and ecosystem services provided by natural systems are directly affected by the health of those systems.

People Influence Natural Systems
The long-term functioning and health of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems are influenced by their relationships with human societies.

Concept A. Students need to know that direct and indirect changes to natural systems due to the growth of human populations and their consumption rates influence the geographic extent, composition, biological diversity, and viability of natural systems.
Concept B. Students need to know that methods used to extract, harvest, transport, and consume natural resources influence the geographic extent, composition, biological diversity, and viability of natural systems.
Concept C. Students need to know that the expansion and operation of human communities influences the geographic extent, composition, biological diversity, and viability of natural systems.
Concept D. Students need to know that the legal, economic, and political systems that govern the use and management of natural systems directly influence the geographic extent, composition, biological diversity, and viability of natural systems.

Natural Systems Change in Ways that People Benefit From and Can Influence
Natural systems proceed through cycles that humans depend upon, benefit from, and can alter.

Concept A. Students need to know that natural systems proceed through cycles and processes that are required for their functioning.
Concept B. Students need to know that human practices depend upon and benefit from the cycles and processes that operate within natural systems.
Concept C. Students need to know that human practices can alter the cycles and processes that operate within natural systems.

There are no Permanent or Impermeable Boundaries that Prevent Matter From Flowing Between Systems
The exchange of matter between natural systems and human societies affects the long-term functioning of both.

Concept A. Students need to know that the effects of human activities on natural systems are directly related to the quantities of resources consumed and to the quantity and characteristics of the resulting byproducts.
Concept B. Students need to know that the byproducts of human activity are not readily prevented from entering natural systems and may be beneficial, neutral, or detrimental in their effect.
Concept C. Students need to know that the capacity of natural systems to adjust to human-caused alterations depends on the nature of the system as well as the scope, scale, and duration of the activity and the nature of its byproducts.

Decisions Affecting Resources and Natural Systems are Complex and Involve Many Factors
Decisions affecting resources and natural systems are based on a wide range of considerations and decision-making processes.

Concept A. Students need to know the spectrum of what is considered in making decisions about resources and natural systems and how those factors influence decisions.
Concept B. Students need to know the process of making decisions about resources and natural systems, and how the assessment of social, economic, political, and environmental factors has changed over time.

Resources

The EP&C Scope and Sequence Chart shows the spiraling of the EP&C through the grade levels and individual EEI Units.

EP&C Scope and Sequence Chart (PDF 254 KB)Learn More About the EP&C (PDF 121 KB)