Systems 2014, 2(3), 328-365; doi:10.3390/systems2030328
Article

Emergy Evaluation of Formal Education in the United States: 1870 to 2011

1,* email and 2email
Received: 2 April 2014; in revised form: 4 July 2014 / Accepted: 16 July 2014 / Published: 24 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: We evaluated the education system of the United States from 1870 to 2011 using emergy methods. The system was partitioned into three subsystems (elementary, secondary and college/university education) and the emergy inputs required to support each subsystem were determined for every year over the period of analysis. We calculated the emergy required to produce an individual with a given number of years of education by summing over the years of support needed to attain that level of education. In 1983, the emergy per individual ranged from 8.63E+16 semj/ind. for a pre-school student to 165.9E+16 semj/ind. for a Ph.D. with 2 years of postdoctoral experience. The emergy of teaching and learning per hour spent in this process was calculated as the sum of the emergy delivered by the education and experience of the teachers and the emergy brought to the process of learning by the students. The emergy of teaching and learning was about an order of magnitude larger than the annual emergy supporting the U.S. education system (i.e., the emergy inflows provided by the environment, energy and materials, teachers, entering students, goods and services). The implication is that teaching and learning is a higher order social process related to the development and maintenance of the national information cycle. Also, the results imply that there is a 10-fold return on the emergy invested in operating the education system of the United States.
Keywords: emergy evaluation; formal education; teaching and learning; United States
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, D.E.; Lu, H. Emergy Evaluation of Formal Education in the United States: 1870 to 2011. Systems 2014, 2, 328-365.

AMA Style

Campbell DE, Lu H. Emergy Evaluation of Formal Education in the United States: 1870 to 2011. Systems. 2014; 2(3):328-365.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campbell, Daniel E.; Lu, Hongfang. 2014. "Emergy Evaluation of Formal Education in the United States: 1870 to 2011." Systems 2, no. 3: 328-365.

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