What is water literacy?

A water literate person recognizes the impacts of climate change on real people and real communities, understands the role of water in shaping those impacts, and has a strong sense of civic responsibility to help redesign our relationship to a changing environment.

We need a new approach to climate change and adaptation—one that transcends disciplinary boundaries and fundamentally alters the way we educate our youngest citizens. We propose water literacy as a national movement toward K-12 adaptation education that investigates our changing relationship to water and water systems as a result of climate change.

Climate Challenges: Widespread climate change impacts such as storm surge, recurrent coastal flooding, water infrastructure damage, changing precipitation patterns, coastal land loss, and ocean acidification are changing the landscapes, economies, and futures of nearly every community in the United States. We can only begin to address climate change at the community and individual level if we start by understanding and redesigning our relationship to water.

Educational Context: We know that curriculum is a key lever for improving student academic outcomes. Additionally, national, Next Generation Science standards, recently adapted in several states and slated for adoption in several more, presents a challenge to educators who are searching for high-quality science curriculum that will allow them to teach toward the new standards.