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Author's note
What is E S D?
Reorienting Education
Localizing the Global Initiative
Challenges and Barriers to E S D
Community Sustainability Goals
Case Study: Toronto, Canada Board of Education
Managing Change
Public Participation
Concluding remarks
Tools to Introduce the Concept of Sustainable Development
Tools to Create Community Goals
Tools to Reorient Education to Address Sustainability
Tools for Managing Change
Web resources

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Through role playing, participants work together to understand many perspectives on an issue.


To practice listening to all voices and coming to a consensus.

Group size: 12 to 36 participants.

Time Needed: One hour.


  • Paper and pens for participant groups.


  1. Divide your participants into groups of 5-7 people, preferably strangers, with various backgrounds.
  2. Assign each person a role in the game: parent, head of a local industry or business, teacher, banker, graduating teenager, elderly person, municipal service provider (e.g. policeman), medical professional.
  3. Situation: Discuss what skills and knowledge children of today will need in order to be productive members of our society as adults. Situation: What is the largest sustainability problem in our community?
  4. Start small group discussions of the situation, with each participant bringing up points appropriate to the role he/she is playing. For example, the "business owner" might complain that young adults do not have good enough language skills to work as salespeople. Groups should determine whether or not there is a problem.
  5. Groups should strive to arrive at consensus (30 minutes).
  6. Ask one person from each group to state the group's answer to the entire room.
  7. Lead a discussion of the process by which each group arrived at consensus.


Many issues are complex and cannot be defined in 30 minutes. In these cases, the desired learning outcome is understanding the complexity of an issue, not identifying a solution.

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