16-year-old E Wen Wong is the founder of plastic pollution organisation, P.S. Our Beaches and she has an important message for all of us: sustainability starts with sustainable education. E Wen Wong is a passionate environmental advocate, innovator, and founder of plastic pollution organisation, P.S. Our Beaches. E Wen was a recipient of one of this year’s New Zealand Youth Awards for her commitment to the environment and, in the past two years, has initiated litter audits, awareness posts on sustainability initiatives and interviews with the Department of Conservation and UNESCO to raise the profile of the beach pollution issue.Read More
The workshop was part of our "Land Use and Resources" day (other parts of the program that day included workshops, discussions and presentations on food, farming methods, waste management, and circular economy). We started the workshop by playing the Fish Game simulation in eight groups with 5-9 members, each recording their results in a table. We followed up on this in reflective group discussions, talking about why groups failed, what the different scenarios represent, and how this relates to real life/ in what ways this is not a 100% accurate representation of international (over)fishing. Afterwards, we provided some more theoretical context on overfishing by going through our own presentation on causes of overfishing, consequences for the ecosystem and the human population, and proposed solutions and strategies to prevent overfishing / fix the damage already done. Additionally, we went over some specific cases of overfishing e.g. in Canada and on the West African coast.Read More
How can we remain creative and hopeful in these crazy times? Jaimie has been thinking deeply about this question for the past few months. Her recent blog posts, Game on or Game over? (with video) and Easier Done than Said: Move from Fear to Action by Educating for a Sustainable Future address this topic and encourage us to get to work. In her recent webinar, Staying Hopeful: Gathering strength for the work ahead, Jaimie asks the question, “Why should we be hopeful?” She offers up three big ideas that have been a source of inspiration during this time of negativity and chaos. These concepts are useful, natural occurrences that can serve, both as metaphor, and as examples of how life organizes towards life on our spaceship called Earth.Read More
Our work with the NYC Department of Education’s High School Career Technical Education continues and has now been merged into the CTE Academic Integration Blueprint. This document aims to bridge the gap between graduation rate and low college readiness by facilitating the integration of CTE and academic coursework, training teachers to develop integrated curriculum and promoting high quality project-based learning (PBL) practices in academic classes. One of the plan’s five objectives is to “Infuse sustainability principles throughout CTE and academic content curricula”.Read More
In my experience, it is harder for people to think about what it will take to educate for sustainability, than it is to actually educate for sustainability. This makes sense, given that change of any kind is threatening to our reptilian brains. We have a biological fear of change. Add to this the fact that most educators think of “sustainablizing” as an add on to an already packed life, curriculum and to do list. Given the flavor of the month way that schools often operate, it seems like just one more thing to do. It isn’t. It can’t be. It is the thing we all must do if we want to thrive over time.Read More
I started a unit plan to respond to the unacceptable things people have been saying and doing in the U.S. because of racism, sexism and xenophobia. I draw from the Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators of Education for Sustainability. I completed Stage I and invite educators everywhere to build out Stages II and III as appropriate for your students, grade levels and disciplines.
How can the new brain science help us to understand what is going on when people feel threatened by “the other”?
Throughout history, there are many examples of people who stood to gain economically and/or politically from creating and fueling conflict between diverse groups of people. Is the U.S. experiencing this phenomenon right now? Who stands to gain? Who stands to lose?
What good does diversity do us?
What do we need to know?
What kind of future do we want?
Please share your unit plans with us and with our larger community. This is a participatory design process and I look forward to seeing what you will build from this foundation.
Jaimie P. Cloud
For the past three years, I’ve taught a required graduate course on the Ethics of Sustainability in the Design for Social Innovation Program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. During this time, I’ve witnessed the unintended results of educating about unsustainability. Although my students come from all over the world, they have at least a few things in common at the beginning of the year. These young people report feeling depressed, hopeless and guilty. Many of these students, believing they hold degrees in sustainability, have become experts in its opposite--unsustainability. They are nervous at first at the thought of discussing the ethics of sustainability. They tell me that their professors were very effective at pointing out that it’s too late, that we’ve already exceeded too many critical thresholds and that there is no way back. Game over?
My response to them is always the same, “I think what your professors have actually been saying is that they cannot imagine and they don’t know how we are going to pull off the mid-course correction that is required if we want human and other life to flourish on Earth indefinitely. I think this has more to do with their imaginations, mental maps and knowledge base than it does our fate.” Game on.Read More
I have been working with Kapalama Middle School at the Oahu campus of Kamehameha Schools for the past seven years. We would like to continue our work together, but for now, the contract has been completed. How can we know if the work we have done together to educate students for a sustainable future will last and will be improved over time? We can’t. What we can do is create favorable conditions for it to flourish over time—just like everything else we want to sustain. As I always say, there is no such thing as “sustain-guaranteed” but there is such a thing as “sustain-able”.Read More
Originally posted by Green Schools National Network on June 15, 2017.
Why, What, and Where are the Education for Sustainability Benchmarks?
Education for a Sustainable Future Benchmarks for Individual and Social Learning was published by The Journal of Sustainability Education on Earth Day 2017. This 70-page account is authored by and represents the current and best thinking of forty-two of the major scholars and practitioners in the EfS field. The Benchmarks include the Big Ideas, Thinking Skills, Applied Knowledge, Dispositions, Actions, and Community Connections that define EfS. Following the Benchmarks are Supporting Instructional Practices and Perspectives, Organizational Policies and Practices, and an Afterword. Several Appendices provide information about the topics often associated with EfS: contributing disciplines, aligned innovations, preliminary research findings on the impact of EfS, and a bibliography.Read More
There are many options when it comes to designing curriculum that educates for sustainability. Some educators prefer to "sustainablize" their curriculum by working with the commencement edition of The Cloud Institute’s EfS Standards and Performance Indicators and cross walking and embedding them where and when appropriate. This also involves determining which ones are developmentally appropriate at each grade level. Others prefer we do that for them. If you would like to see how we would "sustainablize" our K-12 curriculum from the first quarter of Kindergarten to the last quarter of 12th grade, check out our new EfS Scope and Sequence.
Educating for a Sustainable Future: Benchmarks for Individual and Social Learning will be released by The Journal of Sustainability Education on Earth Day, April 22, 2017. This 70-page account is authored by, and represents the current and best thinking of forty-two of the major scholars and practitioners of the field of Education for Sustainability (EfS). The Benchmarks include the Big Ideas, Thinking Skills, Applied Knowledge, Dispositions, Actions, and Community Connections that define Education for Sustainability. They embody the essential elements that administrators, curriculum professionals, faculty, board and community members need to adopt Education for Sustainability; to align with it; to self-assess their own performance, and to intentionally and effectively educate for the future we want by design. In addition, The Benchmarks embody the consensus that the field needs to demonstrate the impact of EfS and to catalyze wide spread implementation.Read More
In previous blog posts, we’ve featured stories about schools or districts across the country that have integrated EfS into their curriculum. Today, we’d like to tell you about Putnam and Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (PNW BOCES), a regional education agency whose innovative approach to EfS is worth exploring.
New York State’s PNW BOCES is a regional collaborative serving approximately 60,000 pre-K through 12th graders in 18 school districts. In 2008, the PNW BOCES Curriculum Center undertook the development of a K-12 web-based Education for Sustainability curriculum to address the question, “How are we all going to live well within the means of nature?” The curriculum development project was a multi-year undertaking that included capacity building for administrators to lead in this area as well as support for teams of teachers to develop the cutting edge sustainability education curriculum. To implement the project, PNW BOCES assembled a diverse group of sustainability, curriculum design, and instructional technology experts to work with the educators in involved in the project.
Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez is not your average 16-year-old. He’s busy mobilizing an army of teenagers in over 50 countries to demand greener policies from world leaders. He’s also in a race to save climate change data before the Trump administration can destroy it.Read More
As the new administration in Washington questions the role of the federal government in protecting the environment, there is a growing sense of urgency for all parts of society to step up to the plate, and they are. As Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same thinking we used to create them.” We need new ways of thinking, not just to solve today’s problems, but to lead us to a healthy and regenerative future. Now imagine that schools could prepare young people to think about the world in this entirely new way. Here’s the good news—it’s happening. Right now, all over the state of New Jersey.Read More
Today we’d like to introduce you to Trevor Day School, a Pre-K through Grade 12 independent day school located in New York City. Trevor’s commitment to sustainability is evident inside and outside the classroom. Jaimie Cloud has been working with the school since 2009, providing training and resources to help the school integrate Education for Sustainability across grade levels and academic disciplines.Read More
The Cloud Institute and The Derryfield School contributed to the newly released Educating for Sustainability: Case Studies from the Field, PreK-12. Jaimie Cloud and Brentnall M. Powell were two of the authors selected for the e-book, which showcases inspiring stories of Education for Sustainability (EFS) in action across the country. The case study, Inventing the Future: The Teaching of Environmental Studies, features Jaimie's work with Powell, the course instructor and Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs at The Derryfield School in Manchester NH. The two worked together to "sustainablize" Derryfield's year long, humanities based environmental studies course.
“When we were first growing the field of Education for Sustainability, all we had were aspirations,” states Jaimie. “Now we have case studies, research and student work as evidence. It is joyful work and it improves lives. Not bad.”
Educating for Sustainability: Case Studies from the Field, PreK-12 is a publication of Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization educating for a sustainable future. The Farm collaborates with educators, schools, and other partners to advance education for sustainability in Vermont, nationally, and internationally. Shelburne Farms’ campus for learning is a 1,400-acre working landscape and National Historic Landmark. Shelburne Farms serves over 150,000 program participants and visitors annually on-site alone.
To access the FREE e-book, Educating for Sustainability: Case Studies from the Field, PreK-12 please visit Shelburne Farms website.
Photo Credit: The Derryfield School: A digital poster made by a student as part of the Consumption/Waste/Design Unit.
This post, written by James Gast, was originally published on The Willow School website, 9/9/16.
“What kind of future do we want?” That’s the central question that Jaimie Cloud poses to educators and students.
As president of The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, Cloud has since 1993 worked with schools to “sustainable-ize” their curricula. It’s her contribution to the kind of future she wants – one where human beings thrive all over planet Earth, without undermining the fundamental support systems of Nature and Society.
On August 30 – 31, 2016, Cloud worked with Willow’s teachers to align elements of their curriculum with the “enduring understandings” associated with educating for sustainability and its nine core content standards: Cultural Preservation & Transformation; Responsible Local & Global Leadership; The Dynamics of Systems & Change; Sustainable Economics; Healthy Commons; Natural Laws & Ecological Principles; Inventing & Affecting the Future; Multiple Perspectives; and Strong Sense of Place.
Over the coming school year, Cloud will continue to consult with Willow and to coach faculty to deepen our understanding and delivery of sustainable education, and to more effectively document and map the curriculum as a whole.
“We had two goals in bringing Jaimie in this summer,” said Willow’s Head of School, Jerry Loewen. “One was to become more focused and more effective in our delivery of sustainability education. The other was to provide the entire faculty with a totally shared experience and totally shared definitions and expectations.”
The workshop marks Cloud’s third round of work with Willow in the last decade. Over that time, she has noticed a maturing of the school and a deepening sense of grounded-ness.
“I am glad to be back,” said Cloud, who collaborated closely with Loewen and Assistant Head of School Amy Swenson to customize her two 2-day workshop for Willow’s needs. “I look forward to working with Jerry, Amy and the faculty to build a regenerative curriculum to match the buildings!”
For Willow’s veteran teachers, the workshop offered a chance to more fully map their courses in relationship to one another, and to document what’s been working. For new hires, it was a chance to learn more about the Willow brand of education.
“Jaimie Cloud’s work on developing the whole child through a lens that appreciates the interconnectedness of all things is incredibly inspiring,” enthused Willow’s new third grade teacher Amy Arnold. “The EfS curriculum is just one more reason I am thrilled to be part of Willow. I cannot wait to see our students in action—working together toward their greatest purpose!”
Throughout the coming school year, teachers will document and map aspects of their curricula online. Cloud will serve as a coach, visiting Willow monthly to work with teacher-leaders as they embed appropriate knowledge, skills and dispositions of Education for Sustainability into exemplary curriculum units to share with their colleagues.
“The habits of mind we are developing for our students through these efforts are vital not only for them and their future, but for the broader community,” explained Loewen, “so we are examining ways to spread this work much more widely this year.”
The end goal of all this effort is to truly teach our students in ways that make them agents of effective and sustainable change for themselves, and ultimately for the world.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to the Denver Green School (DGS), a public neighborhood K-8 school now in its seventh year. DGS, located in a diverse urban setting, is one of Denver’s “Innovation” schools. These schools create their own unique program design with waivers from certain state and district rules. Recently, DGS was among four schools granted even more autonomy through the approval of a new “Innovation Zone”.
I have a confession to make. A ten year effort to help my community become sustainable has had limited success. Early enthusiastic progress, followed by a return to something resembling the status quo, has become a familiar pattern among the institutions in my town. Each experience starts with that same intoxicating esprit de corps, yet somehow, after the public’s attention shifts, things slowly end up fizzling out. This boom bust cycle leaves me wondering— if our local institutions can’t move beyond business as usual, how can we, as a society, ever hope to achieve a sustainable future?