As we all become more aware of the world around us, it is time schools looked into it too? We dive into the world of sustainable education.
The word sustainability is constantly present in our lives. We hear about sustainable development, sustainability careers, and we talk about sustainable ways of public policy making.
People are getting more and more familiar with the word, and in the long term, if we manage to adapt sustainable practices, we can be friends of the environment, friends of the earth and the global community.
But let’s break the word down. What does sustainability mean?
Sustainability really embraces and promotes co-existence of all living creatures peacefully and consciously, harming no-one, especially not the environment and the earth. In a more accurate definition, sustainability refers to:
“Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance & meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This definition mentions significant values by which every human being should function. But co-existing with natural resources without taking advantage of them is hardly something we can always figure out on their own.
More needs to be done to tackle sustainability across all sectors, seeking an increase in information and a more comprehensive approach on how each and every one of us can adapt to a sustainable lifestyle.
And what way better to do so, by educating this lifestyle to younger generations, and explaining the importance of sustainability to them from an early age.
According to the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which ensure social cohesion, economic prosperity and protection of the environment – education, research and innovation are essential in sustainable development, making universities key contributors to achieving the goals.
This is because universities and schools are in first hand contact with young students and young generations that will become future employees and future employers.
The sort of values they’re taught during these years and during school, can be applied during the careers of these students.
It is up to educators, teachers and professors to make sure that they provoke sustainable ways of thinking in students.
If a student will learn about social corporate responsibility, they will surely keep this principle in mind when looking for a job or starting their own company, which will seek environmentally-friendly, socially responsible means of making profit. That is the hope anyway.
A modification of curriculums and school programmes is crucial if we want to have open-minded generations that are eco-conscious, and that look forward to contributing to the labour market as citizens of the earth.
Finding The Spark
Youth programmes like Spark-Y are already making a difference with hands-on environmental education.
More programmes like these must be integrated in schools and universities, to provide children and students with a sense of preserving natural resources, hands on.
“At Spark-Y we believe in planting ideas, like seeds, and watching them grow.” – Spark – Y organisation
Spark-Y works directly on youth empowerment through three branches: hands-on learning, urban agriculture lab, and youth pathways.
These initiatives work together systemically, creating multiple touch points for youth engagement.
This non-profit was created in 2008, and is a role model on how young people can and should be provided with possibilities to, as they put it: “put their ideas into action through hands-on learning experiences centered on environmental education”.
There are also universities and schools that have similar programmes. Just take BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, also known as one of the best universities in Europe for Sustainability, or Eco-Schools that have been awarded as part of 100 inspiring innovations that are changing the face of K12 education today.
The future of education is certainly changing, and with sustainability added in school and university programs, this future looks bright.
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