Education for Sustainability

Eco-Schools USA is a program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. But just what does "sustainability" or "sustainable principles" mean for your classroom or your school as a whole?

Sustainability is often defined as "meeting human needs today in such a way that future generations can meet their own needs." This definition was developed from a U.N. Commission document titled "Our Common Future" or the Brundtland Report, published in 1987. This basic but important definition has served as the foundation for many sustainability efforts that have developed around the globe since that time. 

Education for Sustainability (EFS)
Because of the urgent need for citizens to understand the concepts of sustainability, Education for Sustainability (EFS) or Sustainability Education has become a strong focus worldwide. EFS is a framework that can be used to engage students in all subjects by using the real-world context of the complex interconnections between the creation of vibrant communities, strong economies, and healthy ecosystems, both locally and globally. Education forms the foundation for building sustainable communities, and without education we cannot achieve sustainability.

Equity, Environment and Economics
If your school is a registered Eco-School and is working towards becoming more sustainable, then you are already investigating and implementing aspects of EFS. Eco-Schools USA works to connect the three interconnected elements of sustainability (social equity, environmental health and economic prosperity) on a local, national and international level. A systems approach underlies the seven step framework and the pathways of sustainability that make up the Eco-Schools USA program. As you take steps to improve your school's environmental performance, such as by reducing energy consumption or creating wildlife habitat on the school grounds, and these steps become a focus of your curriculum, students experience the integration of learning and action. Each of the Eco-Schools USA pathways of sustainability provides an opportunity for students to work together to solve authentic issues. 

Sustainable Development pathways icon
As you work through the seven steps and choose your focus from among the pathways, look throughout the Eco-Schools USA website for connections that align with the principles of EFS. These connections will be highlighted with the icon at right.

Partners in Sustainability Education
Several key partners of Eco-Schools USA have comprehensive programs, resources and professional development opportunities that you can utilize to develop strong EFS curriculum and programming. They can help you to implement place-based education strategies, using your school and your local community as context for inquiry, action and service learning. This creates a strong foundation for integrating sustainability principles in a way that is relevant, effective and engaging.

Green Living Project

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education

Sustainable Schools Project

Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation

U.S. Partnership for Sustainable Development

Center for Ecoliteracy

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What Is Eco-Schools USA?
Eco-Schools USA is a holistic, green school program that
  • greens the school building
  • greens the school grounds
  • greens the curriculum and student experience

NWF is working to recruit thousands of K-12 public, private and charter schools across the United States to become a part of the Eco-Schools USA program.  Learn more about Eco-Schools USA.