On November 14, 2018, the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America voted unanimously to endorse the 4DEE framework! Learn more with the Blog on Ecotone. 

What’s New

Published April 2019 in ESA Bulletin
Prevost, L.Sorensen, A. E.Doherty, J. H.Ebert‐May, D., and Pohlad, B.20194DEE—What’s Next? Designing Instruction and Assessing Student Learning

Published March 2019 in ESA Frontiers Journal
Klemow, K. Berkowitz, A., Cid, C., Middendorf, G.  Improving ecological education through a four‐dimensional framework


January 24, 2019
What an exciting launch!  The webinar gave an overview of the Framework and the opportunities and challenges for its implementation, highlighted examples of its application and mapped out an agenda for research and assessment.
Watch the video recording of the webinar :

ESA-Webinar(4DEE)-Opportunities-and-Challenges from Ecological Society of America on Vimeo.


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The Four-Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) Framework Initiative has its roots in 30 years of debate among ecologists and ESA leaders calling  for a framework for ecoliteracy that would provide basic comprehension of necessary ecological terminology and concepts to improve informed public policy and other ecological problem-solving decisions. 


The four dimensions of the framework collectively contain 21 general topics (termed “elements”).  The dimension of Core Ecological Concepts follows the widely recognized hierarchy of ecology presented in most ecology textbooks, including individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems, landscapes, biomes and biosphere.  Ecology Practices include approaches and methods used in doing ecology, e.g. natural history, fieldwork, quantitative reasoning, computational thinking, designing and critiquing investigations, and collaboration.  Human-Environment Interactions include dependence on the environment, human accelerated environmental change, how humans can use ecological systems to shape and manage resources/ecosystems/the environment, ethical dimensions and communicating and applying ecology.  Cross-Cutting Themes include structure & function, pathways & transformations of matter and energy, systems, and spatial & temporal scales and processes (including evolution). Integration across the dimensions is a hallmark of the framework. The ultimate goal is for the four dimensions to be taught as integrated units, courses and curricula.

ESA’s 4DEE Framework is a dynamic set of ideas that must be revisited and revised periodically.  It is not a mandate, but rather provides a set of recommendations for ecology curricula. The framework can be used both as a benchmark for instructors currently teaching undergraduate General Ecology and as a guide for instructors developing new courses. We look forward to learning with the community of ecology educators about the how the framework is useful and brought to life through a diversity of approaches to teaching and learning.

We welcome your feedback on how you might have already applied the framework in your teaching / program / projects and how you might use it in the future.  Your feedback will help us refine the framework and understand how we might be able to support your efforts.



Please contact:

George Middendorf, Howard University