Education in the Anthropocene: assessing planetary health science standards in the USA

Samantha L.R. Capel, Brian F. Allan, Alonso Favela, C. Scott Clem, Sean Khan Ooi, Stephany Virrueta Herrera, Loralee J. Wilson, Lynette R. Strickland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The environmental crises defining the Anthropocene demand ubiquitous mitigation efforts, met with collective support. Yet, disengagement and disbelief surrounding planetary health threats are pervasive, especially in the USA. This scepticism may be influenced by inadequate education addressing the scope and urgency of the planetary health crisis. We analysed current K-12 science standards related to planetary health throughout the USA, assessing their quality and potential predictors of variation. While planetary health education varies widely across the USA with respect to the presence and depth of terms, most science standards neglected to convey these concepts with a sense of urgency. Furthermore, state/territory dominant political party and primary gross domestic product (GDP) contributor were each predictive of the quality of planetary health education. We propose that a nation-wide science standard could fully address the urgency of the planetary health crisis and prevent political bias from influencing the breadth and depth of concepts covered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20230975
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2007
StatePublished - Sep 27 2023


  • planetary health
  • K-12 science standards
  • USA Science Education
  • global change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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