Education for Sustainability

What is Education for Sustainability?

Education for sustainability has the vision…

“to develop the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for students to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It will enable individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. The Sustainability priority is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence.”

What are the main features of Education for Sustainability?

There are seven key features of Education for Sustainability:

Transformation & Change
Education for Sustainability involves equipping people with skills, capacity and motivation to plan and manage change towards sustainability within an organisation, industry or community.

Education for All & Lifelong Learning
Education for sustainability is driven by a broad understanding of education and learning that includes people of all ages and backgrounds and at all stages of life and takes place within formal and informal learning places, in schools, workplaces, homes and communities.

Systems Thinking
Education for sustainability aims to equip people to understand connections between environmental, economic, social and political systems.

Envisioning a Better Future
Education for sustainability engages people in envisaging diverse, sustainable futures.

Critical Thinking & Reflection
Education for sustainability encourages individuals and groups to reflect upon personal experiences and worldviews, and challenges accepted ways of interpreting and engaging with the world.

Education for sustainability recognises community participation as critical to the collective shift towards an environmentally sustainable society.

Partnerships for Change
Education for sustainability focuses on partnerships to build networks and relationships, and improve communication between different sectors of the community.

How can we practically put Education for Sustainability into action?

UNESCO provides a useful list of learning objectives for each of the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) and discusses how these can be achieved.

The challenge for all educators, from programme and module leaders to tutors, is to ensure that there is an awareness in themselves and their students about the importance of sustainability.  

Most of the learning objectives of Education for Sustainability can be easily integrated into current teaching but it requires a focus on teaching as if life and our collective global future matters.