Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

How Can Your Community Benefit From Schools Educating For Sustainability?


Submitted by Katie I. Ginsberg

This is the most recent article in our series "Education for a Sustainable Future". For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/86-education-for-a-sustainable-future/posts

“If we teach today's students the way we taught them yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow." John Dewey

Both students and teachers can be apprehensive about back to school time. Both students and teachers share many of the same goodbyes and hellos as they return through the school doors.  They wave goodbye to the comfort of bell-free summer, homework-free evenings, and having more choices of how they spend their time in between. For students, it marks the end of homework-free evenings and sleeping in. For teachers it brings new challenges that come with getting to know their new students and meeting new expectations that come with each passing year. This year feels like there is an added urgency in the air, on top of the Common Core and seeming ever-expanding call for teacher and student accountability, there is a bigger issue looming that dwarfs these concerns. 

How will we remember 2015-16 school year? As the year that people heeded the alarm bells issued by Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Obama on climate change as an irrefutable issue that must be addressed?  Or will it pass like 2006 when Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, sounded alarms that many ignored.  For those who work in education, these questions are especially critical, for it is nothing short of our children’s future at stake. 

At Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) we believe that strengthening K-12 educators’ understanding of the issues in sustainability is an essential part of the solution for addressing the interconnected social, economic and environmental issues of our time. By working side by side with teachers and providing training in how to incorporate the “big ideas of sustainability” into their curricula, CELF not only rekindles teachers’ passion for their work, but also achieves positive outcomes in critical thinking skills, student engagement and community connections.

Since 2003, CELF has worked with thousands of K-12 educators, meeting unique challenges and helping teachers adapt their curriculum through the lens of sustainability. Through a combination of project-based learning and connecting student learning to the broader community, CELF supports teachers in providing their students with learning experiences that practice 21st century problem-solving. How can your community benefit from Education for Sustainability? Here are just a few examples of the ways in which CELF has impacted these school communities:

  • In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, students will benefit from learning about the Gowanus Canal, its history as a Superfund site how precious water is as a resource.
  • At the Fenn School in Concord, Massachusetts, sustainability is now integrated into student learning both in the classroom and in the greater learning community so that thinking about sustainability becomes systemic and not an extra-curricular activity.
  • In Scarsdale, New York, a district-wide sustainability initiative helped faculty and students move beyond the initial level of “greening” the facilities to the greater goal of developing shared sustainability goals for the school community, an integrated sustainability curriculum and a culture of compassion and ingenuity that contribute to a better world.
  • In Dubai, students can understand the impact of urban development in a desert landscape through focused place-based lessons learned by teachers who attended CELF Summer Institute.

To learn more about how to bring a platform for Education for Sustainability to your community or to get your company involved in supporting this work, go to: http://www.celfeducation.org

This is the most recent article in our series "Education for a Sustainable Future". For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/86-education-for-a-sustainable-future/posts

More stories from Community Engagement