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 Environmental and Sustainability Education


Pillars of life-long learning
In 1996, an international commission report to UNESCO proposed four pillars as the foundations of education:
1) Learning to live together                                          2) Learning to know
3) Learning to do                                                            4) Learning to be

Sustainable Development Key Concepts
1) Interdependence - of society, economy and the natural environment, from local to global
2) Citizenship and stewardship--rights and responsibilities, participation, and co-operation
3) Needs and rights of future generations
4) Diversity -- cultural, social, economic and biological
5) Quality of life, equity and justice
6) Sustainable change -- development and carrying capacity
7) Uncertainty, and precaution in action
Key Characteristics of Education for Sustainable Development

Mechanistic View and Ecological View of Education
 An Ecological Paradigm for Education- a table by Stephen Sterling in Sustainable Education

Components of Ecoliteracy (The Center for Ecoliteracy in California)
- Understanding the principles of ecology, experiencing them in nature, and thereby acquiring a sense of place. These principles are: networks, nested systems, cycles, flows, development/co-evolution, and dynamic balance;
- Incorporating the insights from the new understanding of learning, which emphasizes the student's search for patterns and meaning;
- Implementing the principles of ecology to nurture the learning community, facilitating emergence, and sharing leadership;
- Integrating the curriculum through environmental project-based learning.

Four Habits of Sustainability Thought
Sara Parkin, Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World
Resilience –
  Am I enhancing the capacity of any ecological or social system to stay strong or become stronger so as to absorb large shocks yet remain fundamentally unchanged?
Relationships-  Am I creating and protecting the good and many relationships that underpin resilience in individuals and in systems?

Am I taking time to think about things so as to learn from experience and apply the lessons to the future?
 Am I demonstrating a ‘respectful awe’ for the power of the natural world and the intimacy of our biological relationship with it? (I have unknowns I know about. I have unknowns I don’t know about)

Sustainable Development - Definition
Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  (Brundtland Commission 1987)

Sustainable Development is a dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and to improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support system. (Sara Parkin, Forum for the Future)

Sustainability-literate Leadership
-A leader imagines a better future and persuades people to follow
-Leadership for a greater good that embraces ALL LIFE on Earth, including all humanity and future generations. (boundary-less)
-Recognizes  that sustainability leadership is about the continuing participation of our species in evolution.
 -Get it wrong and we (our species) are fossils.

Ecological Consciousness
From Ecological Consciousness by Christopher Uhl (Page 249)
Respect life and natural processes –
Sustainability commits us to explicit consideration of the effects of our decisions and actions on the health and well –being of the entire community of life.
Living within limits-
Sustainability involves an awareness that the natural resources upon which all life depends –forests, fertile soils, fisheries, pure water and clean air – are finite endowments to be used with care and prudence, at a rate consonant with their capacity for regeneration.
Valuing the local-
Sustainability commits us to show respect for the natural components of our neighborhoods and bioregions, to preservation, restoration, and use of local knowledge; and to creation of strong, self-reliant local economies.
Accounting for full costs-
Sustainability requires that we become aware of the costs generated by our products –from ‘Source to sink: -- to the environment and society. Product prices must reflect this awareness.
Sharing Power.
Sustainability demands we recognize that we are all interconnected—people, biota, and physical elements. Problems are solved by each individual assuming a share of the responsibility.


Learn more about the guiding philosophy behind GSELS

The Earth Charter



Thomas Berry's -Nature of Universe
 and  12 Principles
of Understanding the Universe,


Life Long Learning,
Environmental, Global and
Sustainable Education

Additional Resources:




Earth Ethics Institute • An Earth Literacy Resource Center Serving MDC Administrators, Faculty, Staff,  and Students, as well as the South Florida Community
Miami Dade College • 300 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Room 3506-11, Miami, FL 33132-2204 • t: 305-237-3796 • f: 305-237-7724