click to skip navigation Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit, version 2 point o
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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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Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future (A UNESCO site)

This is a multimedia, interactive professional development program with materials, exercises, and links that help educators deepen their understanding of education for sustainability and its importance in addressing the economic, social, and environmental issues of the world.

This site presents key educational issues that form the rationale for Education for a Sustainable Future (ESF), including:

  • A basic understanding of sustainable development;
  • Help in understanding the range of social, economic, and environmental issues facing the world today; the interrelationships among these different types of issues; and the ways that education is key to the empowerment of people working for a sustainable future;
  • "Future studies," which explore different ideas and perspectives about the future and include exercises designed to examine personal views as well as writings by futurists, consider probably versus preferable future scenarios, and incorporate these ideas into the curriculum;
  • Various strategies for the education community to reorient education toward the broader process of building a sustainable future.

The exercises help develop an appreciation of the range of ESF objectives regarding knowledge, values, and skills, as well as an understanding of the broad scope of actions needed to reorient education. Key themes include the evolving nature of interdependence, citizenship/stewardship, rights of future generations, diversity; quality of life, uncertainty; and sustainability.

Second Nature

This site offers guidance and assistance to institutions of higher education in their efforts to make sustainability an integral part of the institution and expand sustainability into personal and community life. The site is designed for a range of audiences and includes resource guides for faculty, administration, and students. These resource guides foster an understanding of sustainability issues and provide examples of how others are working together across traditional boundaries in both campus and community. Each guide includes on-line databases of bibliographies, contacts, calendars of workshops and other events, and links to descriptions of case studies of sustainability efforts at various higher education institutions. The site's Resource Center section, originally known as Starfish, provides an extensive database of syllabi for courses that address environmental themes. The Alliance for Sustainability Through Higher Education is a multi-institution effort to foster awareness and initiatives related to education for sustainability.

  • The Faculty Guide highlights faculty who are engaged in including the principles of sustainability in their teaching, learning, research, and practices. It also provides resources related to curriculum change and design, interdisciplinary course syllabi, innovative course projects, faculty development, and collaborative efforts for institutional change.

  • The Student Guide is designed for college and university students who are actively promoting Education for Sustainability. It provides links to resources that can bolster efforts to initiate or continue effective and collaborative change for sustainability on campus, in the curriculum, in research, and in surrounding communities.

  • The Administrator Guide provides tools and resources to help institutions reflect on their role in the future of the planet, learn more about incorporating sustainability into the institution's agenda, and link to other institutions and administrators who are implementing sustainability goals.

Learning for a Sustainable Future

This is a non-profit organization in Canada that helps educators and students integrate concepts of sustainability into the curriculum. This multi-lingual site includes:

  • Teacher Documentation Center, which provides dozens of classroom and on-line activities for educators, including a pedagogical guide for activities, a calendar of related workshops, and a resource list of books and organizations focused on such sustainability issues as energy efficiency, international understanding, international development, and science education;

  • Hurley Island, which teaches sustainability concepts to grade 12 students via the Internet, for two hours credit;

  • Top of the World, which links to organizations working on sustainable development issues in arctic countries;

  • International Youth Magazine, which helps students understand economic, environmental, and social issues in the world; provides links to organizations working on these issues; and features an interactive "youth exchange" for learning with others through various on-line activities.

Campus Ecology

A National Wildlife Federation (NWF) program, Campus Ecology is a conservation initiative in higher education that aims to transform the nation's college campuses into living models of an ecologically sustainable society. The Campus Ecology program is working to train a new generation of environmental leaders and ensure a strong future for America's environmental movement.

The resources of this NWF program include Campus Ecology fellowships, technical assistance, publications, conference information, and a "Campus Ecology Action Toolkit."

Greening the Campus: Sustainability and Higher Education

This is another site supporting the nationwide movement to incorporate environmental principles into curricula and facility operations. "Greening the Campus" looks beyond the creation of new academic departments and programs for campus greening to include information on efforts aimed at ensuring that every student - regardless of major - graduates with a greater awareness of environmental issues and their importance. These initiatives often include "environmental audits" that examine the use of resources and the environmental impacts of university operations in solid waste, water, energy, and transportation. Similar inventories also inform curriculum development, in which groups of faculty systematically review courses and their content to identify areas in which concepts of sustainability can be introduced.

The Greening the Campus site also includes examples of "campus greening" programs:

  • Brown University: The Brown Is Green program combines student research, education, and administrative efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of specific operations, including water and electrical consumption, and solid waste management. The site's Campus Environmental Stewardship Resources makes current information on Brown's and other university campus environmental programs freely available over the Internet through links to discussion groups, listservs, and other resources.

  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: The Center for Regenerative Studies employs solar energy and natural sewage treatment to support housing, classroom, and research facilities for 90 students, faculty, and staff.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology: The Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development is introducing ecological principles into the design of new buildings and existing operations, in addition to reviewing existing courses and creating new curricula that address and incorporate environmental themes.

  • South Carolina's three research universities: Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and the Medical University of South Carolina - the country's first statewide partnership - are creating the collaborative Sustainable University Initiative that will also involve representatives from state agencies and other participants.

University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF)

This site provides information and resource referrals, facilitates communication, offers technical assistance, and conducts training workshops that support institutional initiatives to engender environmentally responsible decision making and action through education. ULSF works in partnership with over 275 signatories of the Talloires Declaration and other colleges and universities pursuing sustainability. ULSF fosters institutional capacity to develop ecologically sound policies and practices and strives to make sustainability a major focus of curriculum, research, operations, and outreach at higher education institutions worldwide."

Sustainable Development on Campus: Tools for Campus Decision Makers

This site includes learning modules, case studies, action plans, environmental policies, resources, forums, and contacts - all designed to help administration, students, or faculty implement sustainable development on campus - and also includes links to a "bookshelf" of key reports and guides covering university leadership, green campus administration, curriculum issues, and student actions.

Sustainability Education

This site offers the "Multi-strand Approach," which gives teachers a way to customize current curricula to include sustainability concepts. This approach involves changing one's teaching structure from teaching discreet individual topics to choosing a theme and teaching all subjects from within this theme. "Mining a topic from all angles" is a standard style of teaching for K-5 enclosed classrooms, but can be adopted for all grade levels.

To customize current curricula, visitors to the site can link to a list of Sample Activities or consult the Criteria Evaluation to quickly interject varied concerns not included directly within the curriculum. The Criteria Evaluation provides basic guidelines to help teachers evaluate whether or not their curriculum embraces sustainability concepts. This tool is designed to simplify the complex process of incorporating sustainability content into the curricula by breaking down sustainability into its essential, but not inseparable, components.

Green Teacher

This is a magazine by and for educators to enhance environmental and global education across the curriculum at all grade levels. Each issue contains:

  • Perspective articles - ideas for rethinking education in light of environmental and global problems;
  • Practical articles - reports of what successful teachers, parents, and schools are doing;
  • Ready-to-use activities - cross-curricular activities for various grade levels;
  • Resource listings and reviews - evaluations of dozens of new books, kits, games, and other resources;
  • School news, announcements of all kinds

Global Learning, Inc.

Global Learning, Inc. is a non-profit educational organization that translates the world's growing interdependence into educational activities for teachers, students, librarians, and educational systems, from elementary school through college and in community settings.

Its Sustainable Development Program is actively engaged in two major projects.

  • Libraries Build Sustainable Communities is a second national partnership with the American Library Association, with support from the US Agency for International Development.

  • The New Jersey Sustainable Schools Network is a growing consortium of schools and a wide variety of organizations committed to promoting education for a sustainable future in all schools in New Jersey.

Global Learning's approach to multicultural education is based on a commitment to increasing equity within the pluralistic society of the United States and on a vision of a healthy, inclusive human community. It stresses the development of cross-cultural attitudes and skills that help students and teachers interact positively with people who may appear different from themselves. Global Learning's services for schools, colleges, and professional associations include program presentations, in-service workshops, curriculum development consultations, conference planning, and professional networking. Global Learning also provides affirmative action workshops on cross-cultural awareness and conflict resolution for corporations.

Global Learning has developed several teacher resources (including sample lessons and more) focusing on the interrelated concepts of the environment, development, and equity, including:

  • Sustaining the Future: Activities for Environmental Education in US History, for high schools;

  • A Sustainable Development Curriculum Framework for World History & Cultures, for high schools;

  • Making Global Connections in the Middle School: Lessons on the Environment, Development & Equity. These books are available for a fee but are approved by New York City Board of Education for textbook purchase and have received favorable reviews from Green Teacher and Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society Education Newsletter.

  • Also offered: The Conflict Mediators Program, which trains teachers and students in nonviolent conflict resolution and mediation skills. This program helps teachers incorporate these concepts and skills within their existing curriculum and also helps set up student peer mediation programs in elementary, middle, and high schools. The Conflict Mediators Program is an approved program provider in the New Jersey Department of Education's Character Education Partnership Initiative.

The Sustainability Education Center

This site offers educational materials, professional development, and community education focused on sustainability. The Center builds on the American Forum's 28 years of program expertise in global and environmental education, technical assistance, and curriculum and professional development.

The Sustainability Education Center explores the relationships among economic systems, ecological systems, and justice in contexts ranging from local communities to global institutions. The goal of these explorations, and sustainability education in general, is to provide young people and citizens with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable them to meet their own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The Center pilots its programs and materials in the schools of its hometown of New York City before taking them on the road nationally and internationally.

The professional development programs and educational materials developed by the Center help community groups, educators, and young people understand the connections necessary for sustainability and provide them with the skills to find integrated solutions to environmental challenges.

The Center's overall goal is to increase knowledge and understanding of the concept and process of sustainability among pre-collegiate teachers, their students, administrators, teacher educators, and community members. The Center aims to achieve this goal by helping to improve and facilitate school and community relationships and collaborations using sustainability as the integrating force, while encouraging the schools themselves to become communities of learners. The Center also serves as an educational resource for the collection and dissemination of information about sustainability materials as well as about organizations, institutions, and individuals that are active in sustainability education initiatives.

Southwestern Ecoliteracy Project

This site takes the position that radical change is needed in our cultural relationship to the natural world. The Project seeks to advance an ecoliterate citizenry capable of perceiving and responding intelligently to the complexities and potential crises involved in this inter-relationship. The Project invites collaboration with interested individuals and other organizations toward this purpose. The Project offers educational programs to professionals, including professional development for college faculty and teachers, as well as public workshops and talks.

World Resources Institute (WRI) Education Center

This is an unusual Web site in that it offers programs designed for environmental stewardship for business, with links to:

  • "Business-Environment Learning and Leadership Program" - a WRI program offering curriculum resources aimed at filling in the gaps that exist in the business and environment teaching literature. To make management education "green," professors must address environmental issues across the entire spectrum of the curriculum's core courses. Furthermore, students and faculty must form partnerships with business leaders and surrounding communities to share knowledge and gain practical experience in creatively addressing environmental challenges.

  • "Beyond Gray Pinstripes: Preparing MBAs for Social and Environmental Stewardship" - a joint report of WRI and the Initiative for Social Innovation through Business (ISIB), a program of the Aspen Institute. As a rapidly growing number of businesses discover sources of competitive advantage in social and environmental stewardship, the report identifies the pioneering U.S. business schools and faculty dedicated to educating future managers to handle complex social issues and provide stewardship of fragile environmental resources.

  • "Exploring Sustainable Communities."

  • Powerpoint slide shows - WRI's powerpoint presentations are designed to make technical ideas and concepts tangible to a variety of audiences. Topics include climate and atmosphere; economics, business, and the environment; coastal and marine ecosystems; forests and grasslands; pilot analysis of global ecosystems (including maps and population statistics); and global trends.

  • Biodiversity Education - "Building Biodiversity Awareness in Primary and Secondary Schools" (teaching activities, and links to related sites).

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