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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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Using principles of sustainability, participants envision their community in the future.


To start participants thinking about ways to make their community more sustainable.

Group size: 12 to 36 participants.

Time Needed: 30 minutes to one hour.



  1. Randomly divide participants into groups of 3.
  2. Request each group to pick one sustainability strip from the pile.
  3. Group members should read the sustainability strip and consider the meaning of the given principle of sustainability (2 minutes).
  4. Each group member should think of one way the principle of sustainability could be implemented in the community AND one way it could be implemented in his/her own home (see following example). One person in each group should write down the statements.
Use of nonrenewable resources should be "paid for" through increased renewable resource replacement.

Sample answer:
"Our community will plant many more forested areas to make up for all the coal we burn to create electricity."

  • Community Level: Our community will purchase or reclaim rundown community acreage (brownfields) and replant with trees.
  • Home Level: My family will plant four native trees per family member per year to "pay for" the amount of carbon dioxide we expend each year traveling by automobile, airplane, and boat.
  1. Ask the leader of each group to read aloud the group's principles of sustainability and report members ideas to the larger group.
  2. Discuss the suggestions.

    On the Community level:

    • Which suggestions did participants like? Why?
    • Which suggestions could be implemented this year?

On the Home level:

    • Which suggestions were good? Why?
    • If many people followed a suggestion, how would the community benefit?
    • Which suggestions could be started today?
  1. Collect the sustainability strips, if you want to use them again.


Repeat Steps 2 though 6 until each group has considered at least one environmental, one economic, and one societal sustainability strip.


Meadows, Donella. et al. 1992. Beyond the Limits. Chelsea Green Publishing Co. Post Mills, Vermont.

Murcott, Susan. 1997. Sustainable Development: A Meta Review of Definitions, Principles, Criteria, Indications, Conceptual Frameworks, Information Systems. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Natural Step. 1997. Curriculum Version 3.0

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 1997. Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action.

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