The Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit is based on the idea that communities and educational systems within communities need to dovetail their sustainability efforts. As communities develop sustainability goals, local educational systems can modify existing curriculums to reinforce those goals. As we developed the Toolkit, it became apparent that many communities have not developed sustainability goals or action plans on which to base educational change. As a result, we include some exercises to help communities develop such goals. We also include a few exercises to explain the concept of sustainable development.
I was inspired to develop the ESD Toolkit after attending the United Nations (UN) Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in 1998. Each year, the CSD reviews several chapters of Agenda 21 from the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). When I attended this meeting, the CSD reviewed Chapter 36, "Promoting Education, Public Awareness, and Training." Through the meeting, delegation after delegation affirmed the importance of education in achieving sustainable development. Nevertheless, I noted growing frustration that education for sustainable development (ESD) was not advancing more rapidly; that no one had taken responsibility for ESD nor raised money to promote it; that no one knew where or how to start; and that people were pointing fingers at others, accusing them of not doing enough.
I returned from the CSD meeting with the sense that community leaders and educators needed an easy-to-use manual that would help them get started in the business of educating for sustainable development. To that end, I sought funding from the University of Tennessee's Waste Management Research and Education Institute (WMREI), a state sponsored center of excellence. When WMREI generously granted the request, I began developing the Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit. I enlisted the help of Charles A. Hopkins of York University and Regina Rizzi of the University of Tennessee. The first edition of the ESD Toolkit was published in 2000 in both hard copy and on the World Wide Web. The Web site version of the ESD Toolkit was immediately popular, visited by thousands from around the world. I have received requests for permission to translate all or parts of the ESD Toolkit into 10 languages. The requests for permission were granted with the stipulation that the original work and authors be cited. With the continuing generous support of WMREI, I revised the ESD Toolkit in 2002. Charles and Regina helped with the revisions, as did Marianne Chrystalbridge, who joined the effort later. I greatly appreciate their hours of work, extraordinary effort, and dedication to the ideals of sustainability and the importance of education. I would also like to thank Constance Griffith and David Brill for their superb editing.
I sincerely hope the ESD Toolkit helps you and your community, your school, or your institution take the first steps toward creating an education for sustainable development program.
Other publications by the author
McKeown, Rosalyn and Charles A. Hopkins. In press. "EE ESD: Diffusing the Worry." Environmental Education Research. Vol. 9, no. 2.
McKeown, Rosalyn. In press. "Education Policy and Gender Issues: A Sustainability Perspective." Encyclopedia of Earth Life Support Systems. Paris: UNESCO.
McKeown, Rosalyn. 2002. "Progress Has Been Made in Education for Sustainable Development?" Applied Environmental Education and Communication. Vol. 1, no. 1. p. 21.
Hopkins, Charles and Rosalyn McKeown. 2002. "Education for Sustainable Development: An International Perspective." IN Environmental Education for Sustainability: Responding to the Global Challenge, eds. D. Tilbury, RB Stevenson, J. Fien, and D. Schreuder. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN Commission on Education and Communication.
McKeown, Rosalyn and Charles Hopkins, 2002. "Weaving Sustainability into Pre-Service Teacher Education." IN Teaching Sustainability at Universities: Toward Greening the Curriculum, edited by Walter Leal Fihlo. Germany: Lange Scientific.
Hopkins, Charles and Rosalyn McKeown. 2001. "ESD: Past Experience, Present Activity, Future Promise." Educational Philosophy and Theory. Vol. 33, no. 2.
McKeown-Ice, Rosalyn. 2000. "Environmental Education in the United States: A Survey of Pre-Service Teacher Education Programs." Journal of Environmental Education. Vol. 31, no. 4. pp. 37 - 45.
McKeown-Ice, Rosalyn. 1999. "Preparing Teachers for the Next Century." IN EEducator, Special Issue, Spring.
Hopkins, Charles and Rosalyn McKeown. 1999. "Education for Sustainable Development." Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy. Vol. 14, no. 4. pp. 25 - 28.
McKeown-Ice, Rosalyn. 1994. "Environmental Education: A Geographical Perspective." Journal of Geography. Vol. 93, no. 1, pp. 40 - 42.