The origins of the network
Environmental education is an ongoing process that lasts a life time. It prepares individuals for life, and involves, directly and continually, all generations. It helps rebuild a sense of identity and ancestry, for individuals and for groups. It aids in developing a social responsibility and responsibility towards the state. It contributes to a sense of involvement and environmental protection, creating an emotional tie between the people, their community and the territory.
To improve the environmental education process, and to have a different type of relationship between and within differing disciplines, it is necessary to have courses in which, understanding, observation, and doing are primary considerations. These courses need to involve knowledge, experience, opinions and emotions, and be practical and connected. They should encourage proposals and elements for the future, the spirit of exploration and developing knowledge (rather than merely passing on information). Innovative teaching and organizational methodology is required, involving all agencies, working towards integrated projects, in an atmosphere of true and open research.
It is also necessary to modify the traditional teaching/learning roles, and amplify co-operation between schools, other educational institutions and the general public.
In 1994, the Province of Livorno, and markedly, the Local Authority for Public Education undertook a census of Environmental Education Centres present in the province, which were subsequently included in a specific regional Tuscan publication in 1995, "Environmental Education in Tuscany. A guide to the educational resources of the territory "; in 1998 when the above guide was published on line, new faces came side by side with those already present. The many types of ‘educational centres’, classified by the ‘Regional document for participation in the I.N.F.E.A. project (environmental information, development and education), are as follows: Territorial workshops, Centers of experience, Environmental trails.
“The Provincial network of Environmental Education Centres” (Rete dei Centri di Educazione Ambientale) was founded at the end of the co-ordination process for the integration of environmental education courses and programs: in the network every centre is able to emphasis their specific area of competence whilst gaining from the experience of others and the use of community services.
The final objectives are to create a coordinating body that will prepare and manage projects of common interest, and that will research the possibilities of financing at local, regional, national and community levels. The body will coordinate the development and integration of environmental education programs and courses to be held within single centres, and also between centres in the network;
Develop the network of centres over the province with inter-disciplinary collaboration (museums, cultural organisations, schools for tourism and environmental tourism, the environment, etc.);
Coordinate and integrate the network with other systems and thematic networks, be it in the province or the wider area (scientific museums, botanical gardens, provincial networks of museums and archeological parks, tourist and cultural trails);
Realize common strategies, informational procedures and promotions, to bring to fruition an integrated and improved approach;
Promote integrated educational programs between the different centers to develop a network of courses that are linked and culturally homogenous, given the diversity of the territory.