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

What’s New

ESA invites ideas to align ecology education with the 4DEE framework.

New 4DEE resource available in the EcoEd Digital Library!

We are excited to share the recently published 4DEE annotated syllabus for field botany found in the EcoEd Digital Library. 

4DEE has a new brochure.

Help us spread the word about the Four Dimensional Ecology Education Framework. 

4DEE officially has a subcommittee!  

This October, 2019, nine individuals were selected to serve as the 4DEE subcommittee.  Learn more about the subcommittee members here

4DEE Sessions at the ESA Annual Meeting 2019:

WK 9: 11th Resources for Ecology Education, Fair, and Share (REEFS) – Interactive Workshop.
Sunday, August 11, 2019: 12: 00 PM – 5 PM. Location – Room L017, Convention Center. 

OOS 12: Ecological Education for All Students: Intersections of Inclusive Pedagogy and 4DEE Framework.
Tuesday, August 13, 2019: 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Location – Room M103, Convention Center. 

PS 53-41: Implementing the Ecological Society of America’s Four-Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) framework: case studies and future directions.
Thursday, August 15, 2019: 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM. Location – PS 53: Education: Pedagogy Exhibit Hall, Convention Center.

Recent Publications

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

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


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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 eco-literacy 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.