The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we live in a socio-ecological system in which our human systems are deeply interconnected with our natural systems. Yet our education systems do not educate us to recognize, respect, or nurture this interdependency.
The zoonotic nature of the coronavirus has exposed how human-caused environmental degradation and destruction of wildlife habitats have increased human risk of exposure to new infectious diseases, not to mention contribute to the current climate crisis. At the same time, the COVID-19 economic shutdown has shown how changes in human activity can directly improve the health of the natural world. For example, climate scientists have documented decreases in air and water pollution levels in cities around the world as a result of widespread lockdown measures. The sudden halt in heavy pollution-emitting activities has demonstrated that rapid behavioral change is possible and that addressing the climate crisis is within our