Teaching the ecosystem service concept: experience from academia

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Although ecosystem service (ES) is a well-established concept among the scientific community, it has not reached the mainstream of public awareness because it lacks wide recognition among citizens and educators. Teaching of ES may contribute to the mainstreaming of the ES concept and its framework in society in a critical and meaningful way, toward sustainable development. In fact, the ES concept is a key tool for communicating our social dependence on natural ecosystems, and therefore it has high didactic potential. However, this didactic potential is under-explored, because there is a lack of scholarship related to teaching the ES concept. There is little evidence, for example, on whether scientists who research ES also teach the concept and thus contribute to raising the level of ES awareness in society, and if so, how such teaching processes could be improved, to broaden the impact to citizen awareness. To close this knowledge gap, we delved deeper into how the ES concept is taught and which teaching strategies are currently being used by ES research academics. We aimed to establish connections between those teaching practices and best educational practices described in educational literature. This analysis will help to provide insights into academics’ teaching approaches, as well as how these practices could be improved. A key finding of our research is that teachers with little experience in ES teaching are less likely to use active teaching methods or to evaluate their teaching (both related to best educational practices), whereas lecturers with more years of experience in teaching the ES concept are more in line with best educational practices. Therefore, collaboration and networking among teachers with different levels of experience could help improve the quality of ES concept teaching. We suggest the establishment of a platform to facilitate regular exchange among teachers and educators from different teaching contexts and educational levels. Finally, we propose several future research directions in this emerging research area in order to continue revealing the existing research gap in the teaching of the ES concept.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalEcology and society : E&S ; a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

External IDs

unpaywall 10.5751/es-13286-270302
Scopus 85138480094
Mendeley 795daed8-603f-31b9-9f68-ba693708d396


Research priority areas of TU Dresden


  • active learning, ecosystem services, evaluation, interdisciplinarity, networking, teaching

Library keywords