Good Practices using the Earth Charter

Good Practices using the Earth Charter
Prepared by the Earth Charter International/Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable
Project Coordinator: Mirian Vilela
Project Researchers: Marina Bakhnova, Alicia Jimenez and Betty McDermott
Edited by: Mirian Vilela and Kimberly Corrigan
Copy-editing: Lisa Jokivirta, Anna Duhon, Ross Ryan, Tammy Andrejowich and Dominic Stucker
Layout: Lidia Picado V., Producciones ALPI
Cover design: Helmut Langer, photos in cover by Kimberly Corrigan
I.S.B.N: 978-9977-925-54-7
The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document
and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO, nor the Earth
Charter Initiative, and do not commit the Organizations.
The designations employed and the presentation of the materials in this publication do not imply the
expression of any opinion whosoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any
country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or
Section for DESD Coordination (ED/UNP/DESD)
7 Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP, France
Email: [email protected]
Earth Charter International
Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable
Development at UPEACE
C/O University for Peace
P.O. Box 138 - 6100
San Jose, Costa Rica
Email: [email protected]
Education for Sustainable Development in Action
Good Practices No. 3
Printed in San José, Costa Rica
November 2007
Good Practices in Education for Sustainable Development
Using the Earth Charter
Education for Sustainable Development in Action
Table of contents
Non-formal Education
ProDanza and Echeri, Mexico - Promoting an Environmental Culture for Children through Integral
Art and the Earth Charter.
Valores Foundation, Spain - Training the Trainers: in Values Education.
Group of Eco-pedagogues, Brazil - Experiential Workshop for Educators on the Earth Charter.
Earth Scouts, United States - Changing the world one fun badge at a time.
Edmund Rice Center, Australia - Education for Eco-justice at The Edmund Rice Centre.
Portuguese Association of Environmental Education (ASPEA), Portugal The Earth Charter: Environmental Education and Sustainability Tool.
University of Guanajuato, Mexico - For youth, by youth:
Using the Earth Charter to raise awareness among university students.
The Bioma Institute, Brazil - Improving the quality of life in the communities of Sao Paulo.
Primary and Secondary Education
Ministry of Education, Tatarstan - Reorienting Tatarstan’s educational system towards education
for sustainability.
Conciencia Ecológica de Aguascalientes, México - Earth Charter Booklets for Pre-School
and Primary School Children.
Wondai State School P-10, Australia - Learning to see the big picture with the Earth Charter!
Little Animation, Canada - Playing and Learning about Sustainability:
Kids, online media, and the Little Earth Charter.
CLEAN-India, India - Earth Charter in Delhi Schools: One Earth, One Family.
Voyager Montessori Elementary School, United States - Butterflies and being kind:
An elementary school embraces the Earth Charter.
Ministry of Education, Romania - Values for a sustainable future:
The Earth Charter and educational curriculum in Romania.
Higher Education
University of Granada, Spain - Experimenting with the Earth Charter:
Activities of the Faculty of Educational Sciences.
National University, Costa Rica - An Integral Approach towards Sustainability:
Experiences of the National University of Costa Rica and the Centre for General Studies..
Florida Gulf Coast University, United States – Infusing the Earth Charter into Research and
Curriculum: One American University’s Example.
Seychelles National Institute of Education - Teacher education on sustainability
(Integrating Education on Sustainability into Teacher’s Education).
Yerevan State University, Armenia - The Earth Charter as a pedagogical tool for sustainability
at Yerevan State University, Armenia.
National University of Distance Education, Spain – Faculty experiences using the Earth Charter in
Distance Learning Programmes.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, United States - Becoming a Sustainable Campus:
An Experience with the Earth Charter Community Summits.
Rhodes University, South Africa - Using the Earth Charter as a thinking tool and a talking point:
Reflections on environmental education courses.
National Institute for Physical Education, University of Lleida, Spain - Earth Charter Project...
in Motor Action.
University of Auckand, New Zealand - The Earth Charter in the Classroom:
Transforming the Role of Law.
Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology, Russia - Sustainable Education in Russia:
The Experience of the Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology.
Daugavpils University, Latvia - Experience of the Institute of Sustainable Education,
Faculty of Education and Management
The overall goal of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) is “to integrate the values inherent
in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behavior that allow for a more
sustainable and just society for all”. A key question that often emerges is: what are the values inherent in sustainable
development that could help us, as human beings, to realize the vision of sustainability?
Increasingly, more groups and individuals around the world are recognizing the Earth Charter as an empowering and
practical source of these values. The Earth Charter resulted from a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural civil society
dialogue to identify the widely shared values and principles of sustainability, and is being used as a values-based
educational tool to guide humanity towards a sustainable future.
As a matter of fact, UNESCO, during its 32nd General Conference in October 2003, adopted a resolution recognizing
the Earth Charter “as an important ethical framework for sustainable development”. The resolution affirms member
states' intentions to “utilize the Earth Charter as an educational instrument, particularly in the framework of the
United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development”. So, how is this being accomplished?
This publication has been envisioned to offer stories – case studies from around the world – that highlight how
groups and individuals are using the Earth Charter as a tool for education for sustainable development. These stories
come from non-formal and formal educational settings and describe a variety of experiences, including the
development of guidebooks for primary school teachers, the inclusion of sustainability values in universities’
departments of education, law, engineering and general studies; the reshaping of local, regional and national
curricula; and, the creation of vital and engaging programs and workshops for children and youth.
The richness and diversity of these stories demonstrate that the Earth Charter’s integrated approach can help to
clarify the vision of a more just, sustainable and peaceful world at the same time as it broadens this vision. These
stories also show that there is no single ‘right way’ of approaching this task – the methods used for bringing the
values of sustainability into educational practices depend on the context, creativity and the level of engagement of
those involved.
In the process of preparing this publication, a set of criteria were developed to select these stories which best
responded to the purpose of the ‘good practices’ series, of which this publication is now a part. The following criteria
were used for selecting the stories:
• Are values-driven experiences that use the Earth Charter as a framework or tool
• Promote transformative learning – characterized mainly by:
• Promoting ‘learning’ more than ‘teaching’
• Concentrating more on the construction of meaning than on communicating the message
• Promoting the mutual transformation of teachers and learners
• Focusing on local knowledge and community-based decisions and actions
• Orienting learning more towards process than product/result
• Use constructive and participatory methodologies
• Use multiple methods and integrative approaches
Experiences that use interdisciplinary approaches to assess and address issues, drawing upon a variety of
methods: writing, art, drama, debate, scientific analysis, etc.
• Are context specific and action oriented
Experiences where teachers and students (and/or community members) are learning about regional,
national and global issues while carrying out actions through field trips, projects, and community service
• Are on-going experiences that can also offer ‘lessons learned’
This publication includes twenty-seven illustrative stories from countries around the world. Each one is written by a
different author – a schoolteacher, community activist, youth worker, university member, minister of education, law
professor, teacher trainer, art instructor – and each brings a different experience to light. To build some continuity in
sharing these experiences an effort was made to organize the content of each story around three main sections: (1)
A general description of the experience, including its objectives, duration, target group(s), and information about the
leading organization(s) involved; (2) A detailed explanation of the methodological aspects and activities of the
experience; and (3) A final section on the conclusions and lessons learned from the experience.
The stories in this collection share a common objective – to contribute to building sustainable societies. We hope
that you will enjoy the wide variety of contexts, objectives and methodologies presented in this publication.
Furthermore, it is our hope that these experiences will stimulate and inspire new efforts to integrate the values of
sustainability into education and into all educational settings across the globe.
Earth Charter International
ProDanza and Echeri, Mexico
Promoting an Environmental
Culture for Children through
Integral Art and the Earth
Cardiela Amézcua Luna1
Cardiela Amézcua Luna is an art teacher, choreographer, and interpreter of
what she calls “participative dance.” She is also a cultural promoter within
the community, as well as an expert on regional development and
environmental management. Since 1992, she has been undertaking an
extensive task in rural Mexican communities – promoting and encouraging
the arts, community culture, eco-tourism, gender equity, children’s rights,
sustainable development, and caring for the environment.
Her endeavours consist of developing art projects and workshops that
integrate the Earth Charter. By offering “integral art” workshops for
children, Cardiela has worked towards her dream of setting up a solid
ethical foundation for the harmonious growth and development of children
within the different communities of Michoacán State, Mexico, where she
Cardiela Amézcua Luna is an art teacher and choreographer in Michoacán, Mexico.
The Communities for Hope project
Charter. The workshops concluded with the creation of a
workbook for children where they shared – through
“Communities for Hope” is a non-formal education
drawings, paintings and literature – their views, reflections
project for children from three to twelve years of age –
and experiences using the Earth Charter in their
pre-school and primary school – especially within the
communities. This project was funded by the Programme
state of Michoacán.
This project stemmed from the
in Support of Civil Society Organizations for Joint Social
dream of strengthening those communities that are
Responsibility of the State of Michoacán, through the
committed to building a more sustainable future for
Secretariat for Social Development.
themselves and their children, and celebrating their
shared commitment to life and collective creativity. This
From September to December 2006, a workshop was
project is implemented in conjunction with two civil
carried out to train interested stakeholders from the
society associations: ProDanza (an NGO working since
CODECOS in Erongarícuaro and other adjoining
2001 to promote and disseminate arts and culture) and
municipalities to become Promoters of Environmental
Echeri (working mainly on community projects for
Culture for Children. During the workshop, trainees were
sustainable development since 2006). Integral art is the
given the basic tools to encourage significant learning
means of expression within the “Communities for Hope”
about environmental culture for children, as well as to
workshops; it includes dance, drama, music, storytelling,
strengthen regional campaigns for environmental
reading, writing, drawing and painting.
education from the perspective of cultural art, community
and family, and through the establishment of ECCAIs.
The purpose of “Communities for Hope” is to help
alleviate the lack of materials and knowledge in the rural
Following this, workshops in environmental culture for
and indigenous communities in Michoacán State, in order
children were carried out in each of the ten CODECOS
to generate processes of children’s environmental culture
and their communities, under the name “Enchantment
by using the most gracious, free and expressive means:
for making glow-worms grow.” These featured activities
integral art. This refers to dancing, painting, music and
such as a dance and participative storytelling session
literature created by children to build bridges and
called “Rag Feet and the Earth Charter.”
communicate with the society to which they belong.
Through this approach, children can develop the creative
As a result of this experience, in February 2007, a basic
tools required to express what they feel, think, and do in
manual and a graphic memoir of the workshops were
order to protect, restore, and enjoy their natural resources.
released with the view to sharing (and replicating) the
experiences of these teachers and cultural promoters for
This project has used the Earth Charter as its guide and
inspiration. The focus is on training promoters of
environmental culture for children through the arts. The
first group of trainees comprised twenty promoters within
ten of the Community Development Committees
(CODECOS) of the municipality of Erongarícuaro in
Michoacán (rural and indigenous communities living on
the banks of Lake Pátzcuaro).
In order to encourage the establishment of the
Community Spaces for Child Environmental Culture
(ECCAI, its Spanish acronym), the project offered
environmental culture for children using art and the Earth
Workshop at Colonia Revolución community.
The members of this project’s working group are Paulina Odilia Molina Capilla and Santiago Marcos Cruz in cultural promotion;
Ramón Merino Ayala in graphics, editorial and audiovisual promotion; and Cardiela Amézcua Luna in coordination.
The Earth Charter for children 3 is the instrument used to
a discussion about what can be done in various artistic
areas. A starting and closing ritual for the session is
environmental culture for children through “integral art,”
created collectively and adopted as a greeting and
because it encourages a reflection upon existing values
farewell practice. This practice may consist in making a
and promotes a love for life.
circle and jumping, giving one another a “bear hug,” or
walking and looking into one another’s eyes and giving
According to Cardiela, “…the Earth Charter is our
guide, art is the means of expression, children are
the fertile soil, their own culture is their nourishment,
and the environment for sustainable development is
them your best smile.
As adapted from the Earth Charter for Children:
Principle I. Respect and care for living things
the collective construction of a better world from
within the community spaces of environmental
1. Get to know, respect and protect human beings,
culture for children.”
animals and plants.
a) Get to know and respect the way of life of human
beings, animals and plants.
b) P r o v i d e c a r e a n d p r o t e c t i o n t o p l a n t s
and animals.
Various artistic actions (for each Earth Charter principle)
are carried out in the workshops of environmental culture
for children, to strengthen their understanding of – and
awareness about – environmental care and the relations
between human beings. The average duration of the
workshops is three hours (for children of three to six years
of age), and four hours (for children aged six to twelve).
c) Act against animal cruelty.
d) Collaborate in the defence of plants and animals
in danger of extinction.
2. Care for and love all living things.
We, human beings, created the environment in which
we live and it is up to us to make it better.
The following materials are needed to carry out the
workshops: a large, empty, well-lit, ventilated room, or a
plaza, or football field (or any ample community space
that poses no hazards); a recorder with CD player; plain,
white letter-size paper; and Crayons. The special
materials required, such as fabric, music, etc., should be
made available by the workshop coordinator.
All materials are used on a collective basis, and we
a) Respect the lives of all living things.
b) Get to know and defend your rights and those of
c) Protect the wellbeing of people and other living
The following are suggested activities to represent
these principles and sub-principles:
(“Communities for Hope”), encourage their handling
and use based on collaboration, not competition. For
example, a circle or a spiral is formed (depending on
• Represent, with movement and without sound, an
space) with crayons, from which each child will take only
animal found in the local community such as a
one crayon, use it for his/her drawing, put it back in its
bird or a fish. First, do this individually, and then
place, and then take the next colour s/he needs, in such
in pairs.
a way that the circle is always in place, and no one
• Try to imitate animals from faraway places
argues or snatches materials away from someone else.
(like Africa or the North Pole, if you’re in Mexico).
Move around trying to mimic the way in which
The process starts with a conversation about our actions,
they eat, play, and fall asleep. Learn to feel the
in general; we then disclose the principles of the Earth
difference between the animals that you know
Charter adapted for children; and subsequently there is
and those you do not.
This refers to a specific Earth Charter version that was adapted for children and developed by a group of teachers in Mexico.
This methodology is described and elaborated further in the ‘Basic Manual of Environmental Culture for Children through Art and the
Earth Charter,’ posted on the Internet.
• Repeat this exercise, only this time mimic herds,
making larger groups, and performing the actions
buttons, yarn, small pieces of fabric, feathers, stones,
soil and small branches.
that animals might enjoy the most and the least
• Represent the dangers faced by animals in
extinction in the region, and in other areas of the
• In teams, write a story about animals in the
world. Every time that the games are changed, all
community and the way in which they are taken
the animals go to sleep and once again wake up
care of; describe the dangers they face and how
in the form of children.
to resolve them; describe the characters involved
You will need: Ample space and comfortable
in the story and give them names; describe in
clothes, and a recorder with music from nature or an
detail the place and time in which the story takes
instrumental piece, if available
place (there has to be a beginning, a conflict, a
development, an outcome and an end).
• Mimic the sounds of animals; create a melody,
• Join all the stories of the group together and turn
it into one big story.
singing softly at first, and then louder, slowly, and
You will need: Paper sheets or notebooks to write
then faster.
on; pencils or pens; and an invitation for an oral
• Add to the melody the sounds of objects such as
narration by grandmothers and grandfathers.5
stones, falling leaves, seeds rubbed between
hands or shaken in a can.
• Use the same melody, but gradually eliminate the
sounds until there is only one left, and then
• Create a play based on the story you wrote.
slowly incorporate all the sounds once again until
• Assign the roles to be played by each character.
everyone is making a sound all together.
• Select a narrator.
Vary any one of these themes; change the
• Make the costumes with the materials at hand.
intensity and the speed; alternate sounds of
• Give each character time to rehearse his/her role.
voices and percussion objects.
• Come together to direct the play as a collective
You will need: cans, tins and containers of different
materials (seeds, small stones, marbles, pods with
• Perform the play before the audience.
seeds inside), sticks of different sizes and textures
You will need: Old clothes and fabric for costumes
and, if available, small percussion instruments.
and reusable make-up.
Visual Arts
• Draw your favourite animals.
• Draw them in different colours, sizes and textures.
Draw them doing unusual things, such as a
rooster swimming or a fish flying.
Draw them in dangerous situations, and in
situations of freedom and care.
Turn the drawing into a collage, pasting things
such as feathers, soil, flowers, buttons, or
whatever you like.
You will need: Paper, Crayons, colouring pencils or
felt-tip pens, glue and several materials such as
pasta, soups, seeds, flowers, dry or green leaves,
Workshop at Tenencia Lázaro Cárdenas Community.
5 The invitation to grandmothers and grandfathers has to be made ahead of time so that they may be able to become acquainted
with the nature of the session, as well as the place and time. They can be asked to bring objects, photographs, newspapers or
magazines to help them tell the stories they will share. It is important that the children get to know the experience of grandmothers
and grandfathers because they are a part of a ‘living history,’ and part of the intangible community heritage.
Comments for facilitators
The theme is reinforced in each of the actions, and you
can gradually incorporate the critical and creative
reflections about what is done to build, and what is
done to destroy; look at both possibilities and visualize
where each action will take us. For example, when we
give care, there’s reproduction; and when we destroy,
there’s extinction.
You may use the same artistic actions, and vary the
subject. For example, instead of using animals you could
portray, draw and describe the people and plants in the
community. What are interesting are the variables you
can incorporate in different locations within the
community. Keep in mind that the variations, mixtures
and metaphors constitute the salt of life. You can blend
dance and drama, sound and drawing, dancing and
singing while you write a story – the door is wide open.
When working with children six years and older, who
know how to read and write, verbal and corporal
communication prove to be more effective. This age
group likes more detailed instructions with examples,
sensorial and entertaining stimuli, quiet reading, and
individual reflection on the Earth Charter adaptation for
children. It might be useful to start the conversation by
asking the students on how the Earth Charter principles
are reflected in their own family and community
settings. They like books with more information and
innovative pictures, their movement is more rhythmic
and collective, and they like to practice choreographies
with defined steps agreed between them.
In the case of adults, it is exciting to watch the moment
they regress to their childhood and remember the free
expression of their prejudice and fears. During the
training of the promoters an emphasis is made on
“going back to their own childhoods” to acquire the
necessary elements to stimulate children during the
workshops, it also helps to build links that transcend
Lessons Learned
When working with children under six years of age, nonverbal communication works well. So does giving short
and concise instructions, reading the Earth Charter out
loud, using books with large pictures and little writing,
free and expressive movement, and reflection based on
personal stories regarding the environment and
community living.
Activities at the community of La Zarzamora
teacher-student relations and encourages meaningful
learning that is circular, loving and ethical.
The project has generated an impressive response at
the community, family and individual levels. This could
be in large part due to the fact that art is a means of
expression that dignifies action, and community
members readily embraced the Earth Charter as an
expression about what they would like to improve in
their relationships, community, and environment. In
Activities at the community of Nocutzepo.
addition, the document was found to clearly express the
And, as noted by Bonfil Batalla:
principles and values of the community’s ancestral
indigenous culture, which remains an important part of
With this outlook on identity, the Earth Charter
identity in the region.
has become the leitmotiv of the artistic actions
weaving the local wisdom of the Purépecha
Fundamental to the success of the project has been a
indigenous culture into the knowledge of the
‘bottom-up’ approach: the needs of the community
emerging global community, to stimulate every
were clearly defined in order to minimize the imposition
niche of one’s own culture, to which children
of external beliefs or values. It is necessary to be
have always applied their resourcefulness,
coherent with the premise of acting locally, but thinking
originality and creativity.7
globally. Instead of imposing, one learns to share;
instead of convincing, one begins to fall in love – with
In the process of working for and with children, we have
every space, every moment, with every participant, with
come to learn that they are the architects of culture, and
every expression.
not only the recipients of culture and knowledge. With
During the training sessions for community promoters,
this in mind, it is crucial to develop meaningful relations
we have been engaged in constant reflection. It is
with children through a dialectic and collaborative
necessary to remind ourselves to intertwine local
process, in which we can all participate, grow and learn.
knowledge with a sense of strengthened global identity.
This will allow us to value ancestral wisdom while
drawing upon global knowledge and strengthening the
community structure.
Thus, within the context of the “Communities for Hope”
Contact information:
project, it has been important to define what we
understand as identity. As noted by Mac Gregor:
Cardiela Amézcua Luna
Pro Danza and Echeri Organizations,
…an individual’s identity is nurtured by its
Michoacan, Mexico
immediate surroundings, it will prosper and be
renewed with the modest but permanent
contributions of the individuals of which it is
made up. Identity is the past, the history and the
collective memory, and it is also the present. So
to make the best of it, it is important to respect
it and appreciate it. It is necessary to defend
what’s yours, but it is also worthwhile taking
others’ experiences that may help shape, add to,
or enrich your identity.6
Mac Gregor Campuzano, José Antonio. Reflections regarding ‘identity.’ PACAEP/SEP. 1995.
Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. Ones’ Own and the Others’ An Approach to the Problem of Cultural Control.
In Theory and Analysis of Culture. Ed. Jiménez Montiel, Gilberto. CONACULTA-ICOCULT. Mexico. 2005.
Email: [email protected]
Valores Foundation, Spain
Training the Trainers:
in Values Education
María Pinar Merino8
The Valores Foundation (Fundación Valores) has designed and developed
courses and workshops for training educators in Values Education using the
Earth Charter within the framework of the United Nations Decade of
Education for Sustainable Development. Our primary objective in creating
these courses is to prevent the Earth Charter from going down in history as
just another document filled with good intent. Rather, we want to turn the
Charter into an instrument for the growth of human beings, and one that
will encourage personal transformation – thus becoming the embryonic
tissue that will be the basis for a more just, sustainable and peaceful
society. Our activities are focused in two complementary areas: workshops
for teachers at training centres, and workshops for teachers in elementary
and secondary schools.
Fundación Valores, Madrid, Spain.
considered simply as another subject or activity, but
Workshops for teachers at
training centres
rather as a cross-cutting topic permeating all disciplines.
Using the materials produced in the ‘training the trainers’
Throughout the 2006–2007 school year (to be
workshop, several activities intended for students were
continued during the 2007–2008 school year) the
carried with the teachers, covering many areas, such as:
workshops that took place over several weekends.
These workshops were aimed at pre-school, primary
• Creative (Drawing, painting, craft making, poetry
competitions, literature, composition, theatre)
school and high school teachers, as well as the directors
• Technical (Construction of solar stoves)
of teacher training centres, representatives of Students’
• Scientific (Experiments with recycled seeds and
Mothers and Fathers Associations (AMPAs) and social
agents in each autonomous community. These
workshops were organised in close collaboration with
• Sports (Participation in games, creativity, mutual
trust, cooperation, and problem-solving)
the Teachers’ Training Centres and were presented by
• Social (Participation in recycling campaigns,
María Pinar Merino, the person responsible for
responsible consumption, peace culture, and
education outreach at the Valores Foundation.
The objective of this effort has been to further values
education from early childhood onwards, and to make
people aware of the Earth Charter as a useful
Workshops for teachers in primary
and secondary schools (high schools)
instrument in developing education on universal values
(a priority objective of Spain’s Ministry of Health).
Training of pre-school and primary school teachers took
Approximately 120 people took part in the workshops;
place from December 2006–April 2007 (to be
the first one was held in Elche (in Alicante, Spain), and
continued during the 2007–2008 school term) in two
subsequent others in Seville, Granada, Madrid and
schools selected from within one municipality of the
Barcelona. It was estimated that approximately 2,000
Madrid Community. These schools were singled out as
students benefited indirectly as pupils of the
priority because they serve underprivileged populations,
participating teachers.
such as migrant populations, ethnic minorities, and
gypsy populations.
Activities and impact
The objective of these 26-hour workshops, held for 2
Once the training was completed, a ‘working group’ was
hours each week, was to promote education on
created in each city, and these groups took it upon
universal values, to familiarize the academic staff of each
themselves to generate and disseminate information on
actions within the student communities, as well as to
serve as the central distribution point for materials, and
consultation services. This model of having workshops
and follow-up work groups yielded very broad results,
encompassing all the students from the different
schools through the initiatives generated by the
participating teachers, and reaching large geographic
areas within the different provinces.
At each school, every teacher put forth the
recommendation to the academic staff committee and
the school council that the Earth Charter should not be
Workshop at CEFIRE de Elche- a center for professor training.
of the schools with the Earth Charter, and to help them
several events, organized around important UN
generate ideas and projects to explore its 16 principles.
dates, such as: the anniversary of the Universal
The workshops were followed by additional hours of
Declaration of Human Rights signing, World
consultancy and assistance in preparing initiatives and
projects for the 2007–2008 school year. Lectures were
also shared with families in the area in support of the
Peace Day, and Working Women’s Day.
• Intercultural conferences on gastronomy, folklore,
customs, culture, and music.
sustainability education carried out with students. Thus
• The formation of a working group with individuals
the families and staff also became involved in the
from the two participating schools, to share
activities being developed by the children.
projects and collaborate on actions within the
municipality. The Town Hall offered its facilities
and logistical support to enable this working
We, the parents, have to become more involved
group to hold regular meetings, so that they may
with the school, but teachers also have to
continue to generate initiatives throughout the
understand that the transfer of values is not
2007–2008 school term, and more easily
restricted to the religious, political or family realm,
facilitate the involvement of people in the
but that the school plays an essential role for the
surrounding areas.
future; they can teach the children from a more
universal perspective.
Methodological aspects
– Father representing the Association of Mothers and
Fathers of Students in Madrid.
As outlined in Appendix I, one important methodological
moment from the workshop is the distribution of a
The teacher trainings ended with two-hour workshops
questionnaire for teachers aimed at generating
for the 440 students in both schools, which set an
reflection, analysis, and debate on human relations,
example of the training in action, and further motivated
social reality, intercultural challenges, ecology and peace,
the participant teachers. The children’s workshops were
among others. The questionnaire seeks to raise
replicated so as to reach 500 more children from other
awareness among participants about their own values.
schools in the same municipality. These workshops
The following are examples of questions used for
were organised in close collaboration with the Town Hall
reflection and self-knowledge: What are the things I
of Torrejón de Ardoz. María Pinar Merino presented the
believe to be important? What should I know about
training workshops, and teachers from the municipality
presented the children’s workshops.
collaborations. It enabled the Valores Foundation to
work in close contact with the entire teachers’
community, as well as gain the participation of the Town
Hall, through the Consumers’ Council, which supported
the following activities to help disseminate the Earth
Charter values:
• An itinerant exhibition of the Earth Charter in
schools, visited by all students and AMPA.
• Citizens’ awareness conferences comprising
Activities carried out by a policeman of Novelda- Alicante.
Activities and impact
values? What are my values? What values do I expect to
schools. We also selected workshop participants
find among others? How do they affect my behaviour?
Which values encourage sustainable development?
and scheduled workshops for the school year.
To incorporate into the ‘Centre’s Annual Project,’
What rules are essential for peaceful and humanitarian
the Education on Values and the Earth Charter as
cohabitation? How should I relay these values so they
a cross-cutting axis, recognizing the latter as the
are better understood by children?
individual and collective responsibility, a sense of
Subsequently, theoretical and practical sessions take
belonging to the community of life, responsible
place: Exposure; Dynamics; and Exercises. The IDC
(Information-Discussion-Creation) model is used in a
advancement and relationships of tolerance,
dynamic, cooperative, recreational and participative
respect and care among human beings.
To use the Earth Charter as an instrument to
experiences and delving into real-life cases. The
provide Education for Sustainable Development,
workshop is eminently practical and has a learn-as-you-
whose goal is a world in which everyone has the
go design, using an open approach. Theoretical
opportunity to benefit from a good education, to
learn about the values, attitudes and lifestyles
participation of the attendees in the dynamics
necessary for a sustainable future, and to make
developed throughout the sessions. The learning
process followed is knowledge-action-reflection-action.
positive changes within society.
• To encourage the creation of networks through
which to share materials and information
I hadn’t realised there was such a fracture between
the social reality and the school microcosm. The
Earth Charter has allowed me to look at my work
between the different centres in the municipality
and autonomous communities.
• To achieve greater citizens’ participation by
with children from a new perspective.
involving different administrative departments of
– High school teacher in Seville
Town Councils in the projects generated by the
The facilitator makes use of multiple strategies and
innovative educational methodologies, such as: world
In summary, the steps of this training process are: raise
dances, preparatory games, games involving action,
awareness; get to know; single out values; identify
creativity, mutual trust, cooperation, investigation,
attitudes; and participate.
sharing ideas and feelings and affection.
Also, the
facilitator might use exercises for breathing, meditation,
Lessons Learned
creative visualisation, tuning, inner silence, neurolinguistic programme. Communication and problemsolving is facilitated through debates, meetings, and
The workshops prompted three main observations from
critical-thinking; while artistic expression is shared
the reflections of participants. The first observation was
through music, acting, storytelling, drama, and role-
the discovery of a profound crisis affecting the teachers’
guild. This was related to many factors, including the lack
of social recognition of teachers´ work, the lack of in-
Initial goals and accomplishments:
service training, the lack of support from the
• To inform participants about the foundation
fragmentation, pressures by the Ministry of Education to
values of the Earth Charter, in a pleasant and
comply with curriculum, constant change in the
participative manner. To this end, we gave
Education Legislation, and the decentralization of
presentations at the Town Hall for school
principals and School Councils of selected
The second observation was the acknowledgement by
Another important lesson learned from both cases was
the teachers of the critical situation that society is facing,
to find the common denominator among all the
and its bearing on the school environment. For instance,
participants, which can be expressed as: “their concern
over half a million foreign students enrolled in the
about the current situation and their desire to stop being
2005–2006 school term, precipitating multicultural
spectators and do something to shape a better world.”
From this standpoint, the participant is simply one
person, speaking from his/her own point of view,
classrooms, and curriculum fragmentation.
without regard to title or line of work. The Earth Charter’s
The third observation was that teachers acknowledged
content can then be expressed with all the force of its
they did not have the necessary tools and specific
nature. As such, the message is addressed to the
training to respond to the requirements of their daily
individual, and they can experience the Charter as a
work in the classroom, nor to the challenges posed by
dynamic and powerful tool for personal transformation.
situations that were new to them.
To further this lesson, workshop facilitators should adjust
Despite these troubling reflections, we noticed a
the language they use to the specific group being
remarkable attitude and openness among participants
addressed. They should also use such accompaniments
towards using new teaching techniques, which they
as music, audiovisual materials, and documentaries,
experienced when playing the role of students during
when sharing the text of the Earth Charter in order to
the workshops. The goal was to assist teachers in using
make it more appealing. Because the concepts are
all the materials, exercises, games and practices in their
theoretical and sometimes expressed in intricate terms,
classrooms, once they were adjusted to the different
using music and images can help engage people’s
age groups of their students.
emotions, make it easier for people to become
personally involved, and moved to action.
Upon evaluating the final results, we noticed important
differences between: Training in Teachers’ Centres, and
Training in Schools. In the first case we achieved a
greater dissemination of ideas and reach because
disadvantage was that we did not attain 100%
involvement of teachers from the same school. Hence,
Contact information:
the participant did not always have the ability or
conviction to return from the workshop and involve the
Mª Pinar Merino
teachers’ guild in his/her school. In the second case the
Educational Projects, Fundación Valores,
outcome was more concentrated, in that we worked
Madrid, Spain
with one school per workshop and managed to delve
deeper into the experience by involving the whole
Email: [email protected]
school community, and sometimes even the social
environment surrounding the school.
APPENDIX I. Outline of a session:
• Welcome speech. Presentation of the participants.
• Basic group agreements: consequences, openmindedness to change old mental patterns and
develop trust.
• Greeting dance. (e.g. Kos Greeting Dance, Ena
• Collecting expectations from participants (hopes
and fears) about the workshop.
• Key words: brainstorming a list of words
representing participants main concerns, initially
within their particular contexts and subsequently
on a more global level.
• Presentation of the Earth Charter.
• Becoming familiar with the Earth Charter. Each
participant is provided with four cards of different
colours, each one with a different principle of
the Earth Charter ( I. Respect and care for the
community of life, II. Ecological integrity, III. Social
and economic justice, IV. Democracy, nonviolence and peace). They are asked to collect
articles from the media, related to each principle
(whether in support or violation of the
principles). In the following session, participants
share in groups the material gathered.
significant impression on us when we were in
school. (This exercise has two objectives: it helps
identify the hidden curriculum, and makes us
reflect upon the importance of the learning
process during our childhood. Psychology shows
that the personality is shaped during the first 12
years of one’s life).
• Handing out a questionnaire for evaluating the
different areas in your line of work to determine
the most important problems each person has to
confront when carrying out his/her teaching or
educational work. This questionnaire yields the
main topics of discussion in the workshop during
the weeks ahead. (A consensus-based list of
objectives will also be drawn up, prioritized, and
each objective will be matched with one of the
16 principles of the Earth Charter; then a solution
to each objective will be sought in a recreational
manner, such as by playing a game called ‘Let
your ideas fly.’ Paper planes are built; on one
wing you write the value, principle or action you
would like to promote; the planes are flown
while the music plays and when the music stops,
each person picks up the plane nearest him/her
and writes a proposal or suggestion to achieve
that objective… the music starts once again and
is repeated several times until all the planes have
• Reflection exercise on one’s own set of values.
been written all over. The planes are gathered
1. Participants make a list: MY SET OF VALUES,
and a list of the ideas is drawn up. They are
listing their most important values. 2. Participants
innovative, bold, creative… A plan can be
engage in a brief visualizing-reflection exercise
designed (with a schedule) for these activities to
consisting of travelling back in time (to the
be carried out in the centre.
ages of 7 or 8 years old) in order to make a
connection with the values with which we were
brought up since childhood. Then we draw up 2
lists, one with dad’s values and one with mom’s.
An optional fourth list may also be drawn up to
include the values from a teacher that made a
• Exercise: Learn to see the other person. Shift
your view of yourself, first, and to the other
person, second, and finally to the world around
• Farewell dance. Canon by Pachelbel.
Eco-pedagogues, Brazil
Experiential Workshop for
Educators on the Earth Charter
Deucélia Nunes, Flávio Boleiz Júnior, Guilherme Blauth,
Levana Saxon, and Paulina Christov 9
Based on the premise that the best way to teach values and principles for
sustainability10 is by putting theory into practice, we have developed experiential workshops with the Earth Charter that are adapted for children,
young people and adults.
The workshop was designed to work well for a large number of participants, with the ability to accommodate groups of 24 to 600 hundred people
(these are the fewest and greatest numbers of people with whom we have
Deucélia Nunes (known as "Celinha") is an Eco-pedagogue, Teacher of Mathematics and Pedagogical Assessor of the Paulo Freire Institute, where she
participates in the coordination of several educational projects.
Flávio Boleiz Júnior is an Eco-pedagogue, and Pedagogical and Educational Advisor at the Peace Queen College in São Paulo. As Pedagogical
Coordinator for Green Life Associations, he is also a collaborator of the Paulo Freire Institute and the Centre of Friends of Infancy and Adolescence (NAIA).
He is one of the representatives of the Earth Charter in Brazil.
Guilherme Blauth is an Eco-pedagogue, educator and director of the Harmony on Earth Institute.
Levana Saxon is an Eco-pedagogue and Educational Coordinator of Rainforest in Berkeley, California, USA.
Paulina Christov an is Eco-pedagogue, researcher at the Paulo Freire Institute, collaborator of the Carlos Chagas Foundation and an advisor for Massini
Educational Consultancy.
We would like to emphasize that we do not believe in "sustainable development" in the capitalist production sense of the term. Instead, we believe in the
possibility of building sustainable communities from production systems that do not exploit the Earth's materials beyond its capacity for regeneration, which
we consider impossible in a consumerist society.
The first time we carried out this pedagogical exercise
These five Eco-pedagogues had already been working
was during the Brazilian Social Forum in 2003, which
together on issues related to eco-pedagogy, education
took place in Belo Horizonte. During this event, nearly
for sustainability and the Earth Charter at a range of
120 people took part in the workshop.
events, such as the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre
and the World Education Forum. Several members of
We have repeated the same workshop, with minor
the national network of Eco-pedagogy and Earth Charter
changes, several times; the modifications have resulted
also planned to hold a meeting in the Brazilian Social
from evaluations and comments made by the participants.
Forum, a self-managed activity, where they could put
For instance, we successfully incorporated the content into
into practice their experiences and theories.
a 600-person training module for Pre-school and Primary
Education I11 teachers, in Uberlândia (Minas Gerais). In this
In a project sponsored by the Institute C and A, and
same city, we offered another workshop for 250 people
developed by the Paulo Freire Institute, Deucélia
during a training initiative for educators.
launched the Democratic and Participative School
Council to offer sustainability-related training to parents,
In terms of our work with children, this workshop was
delivered to approximately 400 children in the Pio XI
conferences, group dynamics and workshops with a
College (Colégio Pio XI), in São Paulo; and 600 children
democratic perspective, supported by the Earth Charter
in the Albert Sabin College (Colégio Albert Sabin), in the
Centre on Education for Sustainable Development.
same city. During these activities, we tried to limit the
number of participants to 40 students per workshop.
Flávio participated in the Eco-pedagogy and Planetary
Citizenship Movement through his involvement with the
With the support of the Department of Education’s
Paulo Freire Institute. He developed and applied
Academic Centre, the workshop was also carried out at
educational projects in collaboration with teachers,
the University of São Paulo, as part of an Introduction to
students and other stakeholders, using the Earth Charter
Eco-pedagogy course involving a group of 50 educators.
as an ethical framework for education for sustainability.
In the ‘Albert Einstein of São Paulo’ and ‘South Morumbi’
In addition, Flávio offered lectures in pedagogy
Departments, the workshop was delivered in the field of
‘Education and Sustainability’ to four different cohorts of
Environment, keeping a similar focus.
Pedagogy students, enrolling a total of 153 university
Some years ago, Guillermo developed a project with the
Harmony in Earth Institute in Santa Catarina State, to
The following educators participated in the first
sensitize teachers and students about the values and
workshop design and execution:
principles of the Earth Charter. The aim was to promote
the development of eco-pedagogical work in public and
• Deucélia Nunes (São Paulo, Brazil/ Paulo Freire
private schools.
• Flávio Boleiz Júnior (São Paulo, Brazil/
In Brazil, about one year ago, Levana studied the inter-
GRUTEUSP/Green Life/ Harmony in Earth
relationships between environmental education, social
linkages based on a philosophy of liberation, and Paulo
• Guillermo Blauth (Santa Catarina, Brazil/
Harmony in Earth Institute)
• Levana Saxon (California, United States/Paulo
Freire’s ideas. Her studies started with the observation
management of urban and agricultural problems.
Freire Institute /Rainforest)
• Paulina Christov (São Paulo, Brazil/ Paulo Freire
Institute/Carlos Chagas Foundation/Masini
As a collaborator of the Carlos Chagas Foundation and
Paulo Freire Institute, Paulina was part of the
Educational Consultancy)
In Brazil, Pre-school Education is for children 4 and 5 years old, while Primary Education (Ensino
Fundamental) is for children from 6 to 10 years old, corresponding to the former ‘primary school.’
coordination team for the Jovempaz (Youth and Peace)
selected from the posters. Those who wish to do so can
Project. The project used the Earth Charter as an ethical
share their thoughts and pictures of the word(s) with
framework and pedagogical tool for youth training on
the rest of the group.
peace and sustainability culture.
3. Eco-pedagogical mandala13
The meeting in Belo Horizonte, during the Brazilian
Social Forum (2003), made it possible for these eco-
After this brief discussion, participants are invited to
pedagogues to collaboratively develop and design the
move to a spacious area – if possible, outdoors – where
they will form a big circle. Everyone sits down and the
new activity starts.
We will now describe the methodology of the
workshops.12 It is important to emphasize that the main
There is a brief explanation (because this is more of a
objective of this work was to sensitize the Brazilian
practical than a theoretical workshop), about what the
Social Forum participants about the importance of
Earth Charter is, and why we should incorporate the
leading sustainable lives, with the Earth Charter’s values
Earth Charter values into our daily lives, both in terms of
and principles as a starting point for personal change.
formal and informal educational settings.
This remained the primary focus of the workshops that
would follow suit, as we recognized that this message
In this short discussion, we talk about the importance of
needed to be spread across all of Brazil’s educational
working together to build values-based knowledge in
order to make positive changes to the society in which
we presently live. We talk about the importance of
ecological integrity for the sustainability of life, social and
Methodological aspects
economic justice, and non-violence and peace in
building a more sustainable society.
1. Welcoming the Participants
In the centre of the big circle, we place the following
Some posters with keywords related to the Earth Charter
element-objects: a lit candle – symbolizing the ‘fire’
are posted on the walls of the conference room. As they
element; a cup or jug with water; a bowl with soil or a
arrive, the participants are invited to choose one, two, or
great rock; and a flower or little plant.
as many words as they would like, from the posters.
Then, they must write down or draw what the chosen
Now, we ask each person to go to the centre, close to
term means to them.
the elements placed there, and to donate something of
While people are arriving, it is advisable to sing some
songs, and play the guitar, for example, to create a
cheerful ambiance.
Some keywords for the posters are: Justice, Peace,
Democracy, Education, Environment, Earth, Ecology,
Citizenship, Conscience, Equity, Respect, and Ethics.
2. Brief discussion about the posters
After the participants have completed this initial task, a
brief discussion is held about which words were
Activities during the workshop.
For questions or to make comments relating to pedagogical applicability, please
feel free to contact Flávio Boleiz Júnior: [email protected]
his/her own. The object is meant to symbolize an action
Each sub-group must form a pair of concentric circles,
that a person can make to contribute to the global
so that the inner circle has the same number of
mobilization of efforts towards a more just and
members as the outer circle. Each participant of the
sustainable world. For example, someone might place a
inner circle must place him/herself in front of a
watch next to the elements in the circle to symbolize the
participant of the outer circle, and vice versa.
time that s/he is donating. Another person might donate
a pen, signifying his/her writing and studies. Others
We start the activity by writing down on poster paper the
might donate a magazine, a ring, or even a song to
most commonly selected words from the beginning of
perform in front of the group. The main point is to
the workshop.
objectively and briefly explain the meaning of the
donation, if possible, using only one phrase.
We explain to the participants that the objective of this
activity is to speak and to listen. The first thing is to
After all the participants have introduced themselves
choose a word from the posters. Then, each participant
and made their donations, we ask them to leave their
of the outer circle holds the hands of the participant in
objects in the centre of the circle until the end of the
the inner circle and has 20 seconds to say everything
that comes to mind regarding this word. The participant
of the inner circle only listens, and says nothing. At the
At this point, we speak to the group about the different
end of the 20 seconds, both partners hug and thank
ways that we can acquire knowledge. We explain that
each other. Then the outer circle takes a step to the
the next activity is designed to demonstrate how
right, changing over to a new inner circle partner. Then,
knowledge acquisition can take place in very fun and
the activity is repeated and the participants select
enjoyable ways, such as learning from other people’s
ANOTHER one of the words. But, now, it is the
viewpoints about principles and values, such as those
participant of the inner group who speaks, and the
promoted by the Earth Charter.
members of the outer group only listen. This exercise is
repeated until a full rotation of the circles has been
Then, we move onto the next activity.
4. Face to face
Finally, we come back to the big circle and discuss what
we learned and experienced from this activity. After a
We divide the group into as many sub-groups as
long discussion, we invite the attendees to participate in
needed, making sure that each sub-group has a
another one.
maximum of 30 participants.
5. Artistic performance with multiple languages
The group is divided into 4 sub-groups and then we
explain the next activity:
Each sub-group will work with one part of the Earth
Charter. (If the number of workshop participants is too
large, the group may be divided into 6 sub-groups, with
one sub-group working with the Earth Charter Preamble,
and the other sub-group working with “The Way
Reading the Earth Charter principles.
The sub-groups will have to collectively read the
motivated by the positive experiences that their
principles in their respective part of the Earth Charter
colleagues had in the workshops.
and, within a 30-minute timeframe, prepare a
presentation featuring at least two artistic modes of
Frequently, we hear stories and receive e-mails from
expression to articulate the content of their reading.
people and organizations that are trying to develop
educational work with those methodologies that we are
After 30 minutes of preparation, each sub-group
attempting to disseminate, in order to become more in
delivers its artistic presentation in front of the others. At
tune with the values of the Earth Charter and education
the end of the presentations, the group returns to the
for sustainability.
big circle to discuss the issues addressed.
Lessons Learned
After a long discussion, we suggest that each person
make a commitment to contribute to building a better
and more sustainable world from that moment on.
We would like to emphasize a few key lessons that we
Then, each participant expresses his/her commitment.
have learned from this work with the Earth Charter and
education for sustainability.
6. Circle of Closure
First, we believe that education is only possible through
As a closing activity, we stand up and form two
engaging and learning collectively within the context of
concentric circles. The inner circle is smaller than the
the reality that surrounds us. It is not possible to develop
outer circle. We perform a ciranda14, engage in a big hug
with the entire group, and close the session. Then, all of
relationships – between educators and students – on
the participants remove the objects they offered to the
the basis of individual initiatives. Paulo Freire warns us of
mandala (circle), and begin to fulfill their commitments
this issue, saying that “…nobody educates anybody
to building a better world!
else, as nobody educates himself: men educate each
other in community, mediated by the world” (Freire,
7. Some results
2002, p. 69).
We have been able to establish contact with some of
the former workshop participants over the few last years
Secondly, we consider it impossible to work collectively
and it is interesting to hear about their contributions to
if all the involved parties do not have as guiding
increasing other people’s awareness and engaging them
principles the same ones that define democracy. And
in sustainability activities.
we agree with Vitor Paro, when he states that:
Some university students have told us about the work
Democracy… should not be seen only in its
that they have begun to carry out with children (in
etymological connotation of ‘people’s government’
kindergarten and primary schools) as a result of our
or in its formal version of the ‘will of majority,’ but,
presentations and reflections about methodological
instead, in its wider and more current meaning of
options with the Earth Charter.
mediation for building freedom and social
coexistence, including all the means and efforts
Other students have chosen to focus their thesis on
based on historically constructed values, to reach
topics related to the Earth Charter, education for
agreement between groups and people (Paro,
sustainability, ethics and eco-pedagogy.
2001, p. 10).
Some institutions (NGOs and local governments) have
Based on the testimony of their staff members who
come to us to request courses and training sessions,
have participated in our workshops, a range of
A traditional Brazilian dance
institutions (NGOs and local governments) have asked
Bibliographical References:
us to offer additional courses and training sessions to
their employees. In some cases, these consultations
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the oppressed. 32. ed.,
have turned into projects to develop continued training
São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2002.
courses for teachers, and pedagogical coordination for
Paro, Vitor Henrique. Writings about Education.
formal and non-formal educational institutions.
São Paulo: Xamã, 2001.
Finally, we would like to emphasize the importance of
the notion of a ‘unity of diversity’ in our efforts to
become planetary citizens. If we believe in the Earth
Charter values and principles, then we need to actively
Contact information:
contribute to the construction of another world, another
educational structure and a fairer, democratic, inclusive
Flavio Boléiz Junior
and sustainable planetary system.
Eco-pedagogue and Pedagogical
and Educational Advisor
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Email: [email protected]
Earth Scouts, United States
Changing the world one fun
badge at a time
Genie Skypek15 and Alicia Jiménez16
The Earth Scouts is an Earth Charter U.S. educational programme that
inspires youth to take action alone, and with others, to build societies that
respect human rights, live in peace, practice participatory democracy, and
use the planet’s resources with wisdom and concern for all life. The Earth
Scouts is ‘scouting plus’ – a programme focused not only on learning and
demonstrating skills and knowledge, but one that encourages using those
skills and that knowledge towards “acting to improve the world!”
Jan Roberts, the President of Earth Charter U.S. in Tampa, Florida, launched
the Earth Scouts programme in 2002 after the first Earth Charter
Community Summit in 2001. She thought it might help get youth more
involved with the Earth Charter, so together with a small team of
volunteers, they created the initial structure of the Earth Scouts.
Earth Charter US, Tampa, Florida, USA
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
The main goal of the Earth Scouts is to provide young
Katie Templin Culbert, a student at the University of South
people with opportunities to learn and develop skills for
Florida, helped spearhead the early development of the
seeing, analyzing and being inspired to help change the
policies and practices that create unsustainable and life-
implementation of the Earth Scouts Festival – a day of
devaluing communities – turning them instead into
activities for children and youth highlighting Earth Charter
sustainable and life-valuing communities. These efforts
principles – and several festivals were held during Earth
also seek to stimulate a spirit of cooperation between
Charter Community Summits throughout the US.
youth, and between youth and adults, as they co-create
communities that function in harmony with the values
Katie, together with Sue Carter, a former curriculum
of the Earth Charter.
developer, put together the first Earth Scouts Facilitator’s
Guide, after realizing that parents and potential group
A notable anecdote from the first planning meeting for
leaders needed assistance starting and facilitating Earth
the Earth Scouts involved a group of adults sitting
Scouts Groups. It offers guidelines for earning badges and
around a table, focused intently on writing a
offers suggestions and examples for leading activities.
comprehensive mission statement. At one point, a ten
Later, Kelli Lopardo, a former middle school science
year-old boy asked, “Are we doing this in adult talk or kid
teacher and home-schooling parent, who had organized
talk?” This poignant question helped define the focus of
an Earth Scouts Festival in 2004, took on the challenge to
the Earth Scouts as a youth-centred programme, as well
further develop the Earth Scouts Facilitator’s Guide. To
as shape the programme slogan: “Changing the World
support this effort, Jan Roberts requested and received
One Fun Badge at a Time – youth working together
funding in 2005 from the Children’s Board of
to make the Earth Charter a reality at home and in
Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida.
the community.”
Earth Charter U.S. volunteer, Genie Skypek, is currently
In addition to deciding to put the focus on building a
providing the support for the coordination and
youth-centreed programme, the following are other key
infrastructure of the Earth Scouts, in concert with Jan
policies and guidelines decided during the programme’s
Roberts. The majority of the facilitator-leaders are
initial planning phase:
parents, many of them engaged in home-schooling their
children (parents following a flexible state-approved
• Earth Scouts is inclusive – girls and boys are
curriculum) or un-schooling (non-standards-based,
welcome and can be in the Earth Scouts
child-led, interest-based learning). It’s of interest to note
that the home-schooling movement is the fastest
• Parents are facilitators and mentors, not
autocratic leaders.
• Badge guidelines are open, offering room for
local adaptation.
• Emphasis is on cooperation, not competition.
• Earth Scout groups are independent financially
and administratively, but membership dues
(fees) will not be charged. However groups can
raise funds to support their activities.
growing educational alternative in the United States.17
If the Earth Scouts were to become imbedded in the
home-schooling system it would be a powerful
mechanism for increasing young people’s awareness of
the Earth Charter principles. Other facilitator-leaders
include teachers who start Earth Scouts activities in their
schools, and religious educators, with organizations such
as the Universal Unitarian Church and Congregation of
the Humility of Mary.
Efforts are underway to collect information about how
Earth Scout groups are encouraged to follow these
many Earth Scouts groups are currently operating in the
policies and guidelines, and to make their decisions and
US, yet it’s known that at least 52 groups have been
actions congruent with the mission, vision, and
formed; they have received support from Earth Charter
principles of the Earth Charter.
U.S. and its volunteers over the last few years. The Earth
Cardiff, C. (1998). The Seduction of Homeschooling Families. Retrieved May 29, 2007 from
Scouts online listserv has 196 members, and has received
The role of group facilitator is to provide information and
inquiries about starting Earth Scouts groups from people
experiences that help educate and inspire youth about
in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Thailand and Rwanda.
the Earth Charter principles. Once scouts are informed
and inspired, it is expected that facilitators will ‘back
Earth Charter U.S. plans to provide ongoing support to
away’ and provide only the necessary support to youth
existing and new Earth Scout groups in the US, and
who will, in turn, design their own creative actions to
hopes to spread the Earth Scouts programme
further the application of those principles in their lives
throughout the global community. Genie Skypek is
working to improve the Earth Scouts website and to
understanding of Earth Charter principles into action –
provide additional information, materials and resources
they can see how the principles are and aren’t
for Earth Scouts groups.
supported by various policies and practices – and then
decide how best to advocate for those principles and
make a difference. By doing so, they are achieving the
Methodological aspects
mission of the Earth Scouts: “Changing the World One
Fun Badge at a Time – youth working together to make
The Earth Scouts process for earning a badge
the Earth Charter a reality at home and in the
In general, Earth Scout groups have between five and
fifteen members, comprised of youth from across a
Box 1 - Starting an Earth Scouts Family – Pam
community or the members of one family (See Box 1 –
Woods, Portland, Oregon, USA:
experience about starting an Earth Scouts Family). With
the assistance of a facilitator, groups engage in activities
I got an idea during one of the informational meetings
aimed at teaching youth about five basic principles from
about the Earth Scouts from another parent who was
the Earth Charter: respect for the Earth, respect for
also interested in the programme. She voiced a difficulty
human rights, participatory democracy, economic
that many other parents voice, which is “How do I find
justice, and peace and nonviolence. There are five
the time for yet another thing for our family to do?”
badges that can be earned, one for each principle, and
are awarded in recognition that the Earth Scout has
So I started thinking about simply having days at home
learned about, and acted upon, each principle. As Earth
where my three kids and I would just have fun “being
Scouts members who continue participating after
Earth Scouts.” So when we took care of our lawn without
earning all five badges – taking actions in support of the
Earth Charter principles to improve their homes and
their communities – can earn stripes of varying colours
to indicate their achievements.
Participants must take the following steps to earn
a badge:
(1) Understand and become inspired about an
Earth Charter principle.
(2) Create something relating to that principle
(for example, an art or music piece).
(3) Act in the spirit of that principle to make a
positive contribution in their local, national or
global community (for example, writing a letter
to the media, showing appreciation to others,
working to make or change a law, building a
park, etc.).
using pesticides, we were being Earth Scouts because
we were protecting the Earth in our yard, and once we
even packed “zero-waste lunches” for school.
More recently, during conflict between the children, I
simply halted everyone – even though part of the
conflict was the need to hurry out to go to school – and
we discussed our family, what it meant to us, and what
was truly important to us. So we donned our “Earth
Scout” hats and acknowledged that peace starts with us,
and so we needed to communicate peacefully at home
with those we love. The best way to be able to send that
ripple out to all that we encounter and impact others is
by living that way ourselves. This led to a truly wonderful
discussion and a very smooth, loving, supportive
Description of Earth Scouts guide
and group activities
The Earth Scouts Facilitator’s Guide provides information
on fostering an Earth Scouts culture based on
cooperative learning. It gives suggestions for badge
activities that empower scouts to engage with each
other and their families in activities linked to the
principles and values in the Earth Charter. The Guide
suggests activities related to each of the sixteen
principles of the Earth Charter Principles, to create
awareness, skills, and knowledge. For example:
• To inspire – use exercises, games and songs (e.g.
Example of Class Poster.
“Where We All Belong” by Raffi and “Heartbeat of
The Earth Scouts Facilitator’s Guide also offers
the Earth” by Shana Banana – both songs were
suggestions for activities for children of different ages.
written in support of the Earth Charter); read, tell
For very young children the guide offers suggestions for
stories, and create skits and performances that
how to inform and inspire scouts through storytelling,
involve and excite youth about the principles;
role-playing, and sharing. For example, kids can be
walk in natural settings and hike in local, state or
taught about the interconnection of all things by simply
national parks.
being taught about breathing – breathing out carbon
dioxide helps plants live, and plants use our carbon
• To increase knowledge – facilitate discussions
dioxide to make the oxygen that we need to live. This
about the principles and engage in research and
information might deepen their connection to trees.
study; attend the town council and meetings of
Coming up with solutions and taking positive actions
relevant organizations and groups that are
takes the learning further. Kids can talk about what
working on issues related to the principles.
happens when forests are being cut down and
destroyed, and then explore ideas for taking actions to
• To be creative through art and science – express
reduce these negatives, such as planting trees.
a personal vision and understanding of the
principles by taking photos, making movies,
Facilitators of children ages three to five have also had
drawing pictures or painting, weaving, writing,
success informing and inspiring scouts by reading and
analyzing water quality at school, or testing local
role-playing a Dr. Seuss story that emphasizes ”sharing
pollution levels, etc.
and caring,” “playing fair,” and “valuing everyone” –
variations on the Earth Charter principles of peace and
• To take action – design and carry out an individual
non-violence, economic justice, and human rights. The
and/or group activity at home, at school, or in the
story explores the question, “Who does the hard work?”
community that demonstrates the principle; walk
and the work “no-one else wants to do.” Following the
or take a bus, ride a bike, communicate with local
role-playing, the kids discussed how they felt, what they
leaders, pick up litter in schools or parks, etc.
thought was ‘fair,’ and what types of work they thought
was hard or undesirable. The next time they gathered
All these activities are key to helping Earth Scouts learn
they discussed one hard job – garbage collecting – with
that they are capable, that they are an important and
discussions led by the facilitator. Over time, however, the
necessary part of their community, and that both
kids took the lead and began thinking of ways to address
individually and in groups they have the power to have
the issue. They decided to make ‘thank you’ cards and
a positive effect in the world.
baskets, which they did, and then gave them to their
garbage collectors. One garbage collector was so
Economic Justice:
touched that he said he was going to show his basket to
Respecting workers and producers
his ten year-old son, so his son could see that his work
Demanding corporate social and environmental
was important.
For older kids, facilitators and other scouts can educate
Participatory Democracy:
the group about issues and the application of Earth
Consensus and group decision-making
Charter Principles directly through reading, discussions,
Respecting and valuing differing points of view
and creative group work, such as brainstorming ideas.
Participating in all levels of local, state and federal
Using these methods, group members can each choose
one or more of the principles to act on individually, or
find a common interest as a group and act together on
Peace and Nonviolence:
a project. One such group decided to organize a toy
Respecting cultural differences and commonalities
sale, and used the money they earned to buy new toys
in the global human family
for children at a local hospital.
Resolving conflict creatively and without violence
Valuing and practicing cooperation and developing
Other ways to involve older kids is to take them on field
inner peace
trips and make visits to local sites and organizations
engaged in the issues the kids care about. Most kids
Respect for Nature:
enjoy nature and are positive about visiting wetlands,
Understanding and respecting how nature’s systems
rivers, and lakes, looking for birds and wildlife, going to
and cycles work
parks and nature preserves, and walking in the forests.
Valuing the natural world as a source of personal
In addition, kids natural interest in food can lead to visits
to local farms, farmer’s markets, and food processing
Understanding the impact and consequences of
plants. These outings can be enriched by enlisting the
humans on local and global environments
participation of local naturalists and experts, and
of leaders of local chapters of organizations like
the Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the
Interaction between facilitators
and youth
Sierra Club, and Community-Supported Agriculture
associations, among others. The guide provides a range
Children and youth should participate fully in defining
of sample activities for older kids, along with additional
the group’s activities and in discussing and taking
resources and examples to help groups succeed.
actions on the topics and issues they learn about. While
facilitators may need to provide guidance and direction,
Issues and topics addressed
in the guide
their main role is to nurture in young people the skills
and knowledge they need to build confidence and take
actions towards earning their badges and making
positive changes in their own lives, in the lives of others,
The activities in the Earth Scouts Facilitator’s Guide can
and in the wider world.
be linked to the following themes derived from the
Earth Charter:
Actions and results from the
learning process
Human Rights
Providing basic needs (food, water, health care,
Earth Scouts learn to put their values in action as they
shelter, clothing and education)
‘take a stand’ regarding the issues they study and
Taking a stand against discrimination
experience. Skills and techniques to engage in creative
Protecting from harm
problem-solving are covered in the guide, as is an
emphasis on helping youth move from understanding
participated in games and activities at a special “kids
the problem to envisioning solutions and taking actions.
energy play shop.” The scouts learned about solar toys
For example, in the earlier discussion about what work
and solar ovens, and recycling. After the festival, the
is not valued in the community – garbage collection –
group set up an Earth Scouts booth to inform others
the group decided to take an action ‘close to home’ and
about the Earth Scouts.
give thank you cards and baskets to their own garbage
worker. Facilitators can also help youth translate their
In Phoenix, Arizona one Earth Scouts group is planning
creative ‘close to home’ solutions to a wider community.
to build solar-powered cars, and then race them for fun.
In this case it might have been organizing an “Appreciate
One of their weekend outings included attending the
Your Garbage Worker Day” in their town or sending
Farmers’ Market, and they have also sold products to
letters of appreciation for publication in their community
raise money for a local anti-hunger nonprofit
media outlets.
organization. In addition, this scout group went on a
camping trip in which all members participated in
The following are a few examples of actions Earth
hands-on service learning projects involving organic
Scouts have taken, and are planning to take, to apply
gardening, caring for animals and living close to the
Earth Charter principles in their own lives and in the lives
of others.
Lessons learned
Jonathan, a thirteen year-old boy in Tampa, Florida
started a “Kits for Kids” project for his Bar Mitzvah. He
requested that his gifts be in the form of donations to
Earth Charter US. He used the donations to purchase the
characteristics that make it a valuable way for parents
kits, which included school-related necessities such as
and youth to get informed and inspired to care for the
backpacks, clothing, supplies, as well as disposable
Earth and all life. Its unique characteristics are its
cameras and other items, for the children at the Kinship
inclusiveness, making it possible for girls and boys to be
Centre (a programme funded by the Children's Board of
in the same group, and its integrative and broad focus,
grandparents raising their grandchildren due to the death
environment with social, economic, cultural, and political
or inability of the children’s parents to provide care).
Many grandparents are not the legal guardians of these
children and have limited access to financial aid, so for
In order to help scouts make these interconnections,
some, these kits offer valuable and much-needed
group facilitators, educators, and parents need resources
supplies. Jonathan reported raising more than US$3,000
that show the relationships between peace, participatory
for this project and the Children’s Board is considering
democracy, human rights, economic justice and
expanding this project to other Kinship Centres.
environmental sustainability.
All too often, as Genie
Skypek observed, “Parents and facilitators may not know
An Earth Scouts group in Portland, Oregon joined an
how to get “the big picture” because this kind of analysis
Earth Day celebration, participated in recycled art
is not available in our more common information media,
projects, and attended a Bird Festival, a conference
so we need to make these analyses available to them.”
designed to get kids away from television and back in
touch with nature – all involving lots of fun, action-
While the coordinators and volunteers of the Earth
oriented activities, and energetic participation with their
Scouts programme seek and receive feedback from
some groups about the opportunities and actions scouts
have taken, they would like to hear more stories. Further,
Several families starting Earth Scouts in the state of
they would like to know how participating in the
Tennessee attended a Green Power Festival and scouts
programme has effected scouts, parents, families, and
communities. The coordinators need to understand how
developing an online training programme for facilitators
these activities have impacted participants in order to
and parents to more successfully lead scouts toward
continue assessing, improving, and growing the
‘action-taking’ endpoints and helping scouts fulfill their
goal of “acting to improve the world.”
The coordinators believe that the Earth Scouts
Facilitator’s Guide needs to more strongly emphasize
the ‘action-taking’ process and to define it as a
necessary requirement for earning a badge. Towards
Contact information:
Genie Skypek and Jan Roberts
Earth Charter U.S.
Florida, USA
Email: [email protected]
Edmund Rice Centre, Australia
Education for Eco-justice at
The Edmund Rice Centre
Alicia Jiménez18 and Louise Robbards19
The Edmund Rice Centre (ER Centre) is an educational institution involved
in research, advocacy, networking, engaging with schools and the
community sector, offering cross-cultural immersion programmes and
conducting in-service trainings. Amongst the Centre’s objectives are:
• Conduct and encourage research into the causes of poverty and
inequity in society, with particular regard to youth and Indigenous
• Promote teaching and experiential learning activities that support
awareness, understanding and action in the areas of justice and
community issues.
• Facilitate liaison and networking opportunities amongst agencies
involved in social justice and community education activities.
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
Edmund Rice Centre, Australia
In 2005, the ER Centre began a project to examine how
are, on average, only three meters above sea level. As
they could better integrate ecological concerns into their
global temperatures rise and ice caps melt, the seas will
work, and as a result started the Eco-Justice project. This
rise. Any rise in sea level could potentially swamp these
project included examining the ER Centre’s ecological
flat, low-lying lands, and there are no hills into which
practices, developing a number of resources on issues
local people can retreat for safety. The islands’ natural
of sustainability, and creating the “Pacific Calling
resources and all living things would become directly
Campaign and Partnership,” an association of individuals
under threat as people lost their homes and their
and organizations concerned about Australia’s Pacific
freshwater sources became increasingly saline. Higher
neighbours, dedicated to helping address the issues
temperatures will increase coral bleaching, and will
arising from climate change in low-lying Pacific nations.
negatively effect the islands’ vegetation and fauna, and
high tides and recurrent severe typhoons would cause
The philosophy of the Eco-Justice project comes directly
even greater devastation.
from the principles of the Earth Charter and the ER
Centre aims to integrate these principles throughout
The Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership
their social justice education, research and advocacy
calls for action
programmes. The Pacific Calling Campaign and
Partnership is an example of a programme into which
“[We are]….calling all Australians to develop links
the Earth Charter principles have been integrated.
with affected people by listening to their human
stories and recognizing our ecological debt to the
Pacific Calling Campaign and
Partnership – changing our
neighbour’s futures
Pacific and Torres Strait Islands for Australia’s
prosperity. We are also calling the Australian
Government to increase development aid to the
Pacific and Torres Strait Islands, set realistic
In May 2006, members of the ER Centre began a
emission targets (60% reduction in greenhouse
campaign in solidarity with people in Kiribati and Torres
emissions by 2050), increase renewable energy
Strait islands, to highlight the implications of climate
targets to 20.5% by 2010, ratify the Kyoto Protocol
change for low-lying islands. It will operate for two years
and ensure orderly migration of environmentally
and then will be reviewed. The project has a dual focus:
displaced people.”
to build solidarity with the peoples of low-lying nations
of the Pacific, and to promote transformative education
The Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership is
within Australia, in particular within the Australian
involved in the following activities:
Catholic community.
• Research – creating scenarios for the future, and
The Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership brings
together individuals, a number of religious orders,
roles for Australia
• Linking – connecting with I-Kiribati individuals
school groups, and community organizations (primarily
and organizations
from the Catholic community), to make a personal
• within Australian communities
connection with the peoples of low-lying island nations
• Advocacy – using the media and communicating
and to advocate for their future. It recognizes Australia’s
with interested politicians
ecological debt to the people of these nations and the
need for Australia to take responsibility for its
contribution to climate change and the impacts on its
coordinates a network of sixty people, including
representatives of religious and community groups,
educators, and students. Partners include: Australian
The most significant reason why Kiribati and Torres Strait
Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes NSW,
are the focus of the campaign is because these islands
Catholics in Coalition For Justice and Peace, The Good
Samaritan Sisters, The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
The ER Centre is also seeking perspectives from various
Justice and Peace Centre, Australian Catholic University
Aboriginal communities in order to explore appropriate
Institute for Advancing Community Engagement,
ways of incorporating the indigenous relationship with
Catholic Education Office Wollongong, Punake Pasifik
the earth into their work with the Earth Charter.
Artistic Solution, Pacific Wave Association. The Patron of
the Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership is the Most
Reverend Peter Ingham D.D., Bishop of Wollongong,
Principles of sustainability
in education
and the president of the Federation of Oceania Bishops’
The ER Centre encourages schools to use the Earth
Charter. On the ER Centre website, for example, they ask
visitors – teachers, students, parents, staff, and
Methodological Aspects
administrators – to reflect on the school’s management
and curricula, inside and outside the classroom. The
The ER Centre’s approach to implementing the Earth
following are a few of the questions they use to
Charter in their work is two-pronged: to develop ways of
stimulate reflection:
integrating environmental considerations into the
workplace and staff activities; and to explore ways of
• Is your school keen to improve its role as a place
integrating the principles into existing social justice
that respects and cares for the earth and for one
education, research and advocacy programmes which
are aimed mainly at promoting human rights, such as
the Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership.
• Do you want to become a no-waste school by
• Do you want to see some practical changes in
your school such as composting, and less water
Principles of sustainability
in the workplace
and energy use?
• Do you want to promote an understanding of
how our every day actions affect poorer
It was deemed important to ER Centre staff to
incorporate the Earth Charter principles they promote in
their research and education programmes into their
daily lives. To support this practice, the ER Centre held a
workshop for staff focused on Principle 7 of the Earth
• Do you want to strengthen links with your local
• Do you want your school to more consciously link
ethics with actions?
Charter, which encourages people to “Adopt patterns of
production, consumption and reproduction that
In addition, the ER Centre offers support to schools
safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights
interested in bringing about changes in their schools,
and community wellbeing.” The workshop helped staff
and to help them generate a more integrated ‘whole
identify priorities and targets to strengthen the ER
school’ approach – where learning goals and outcomes
Centre’s commitment to improving their environmental
are expressed in all parts of the curriculum and in the
life of the school. In support of schools adopting a
‘whole school’ approach towards sustainability using the
As a result of integrating ecological concerns in the ER
Earth Charter, the ER Centre has identified the
Centre’s practice, the staff developed environmental
following learning approaches:
action plans and nominated teams to implement
actions and monitor progress. Some of the actions
i. Cross-curricular programme – Integrate the Earth
include the introduction of worm farming, more
Charter principles into existing subjects and/or deliver it
comprehensive recycling, and the promotion of fair and
as an independent unit of study where the core
sustainable trade.
curriculum allows flexibility. For example, science classes
can conduct school energy audits and develop an
understanding of greenhouse science and the impacts
understanding of the issues and critical choices facing
of global warming; math classes can calculate the costs
humanity and the urgent need for commitment to a
of waste in both economic and environmental terms;
sustainable way of life.
English classes can write letters to political figures
emphasizing the need to support renewable energy and
EcoLeaders will be supported via a secure web-
find solutions to deforestation; religious education
delivered, do-it-yourself package, comprised of a five-
classes can consider the social justice implications of
step annual cycle, a recognition framework, and a
environmental threats, such as declining water quality
collaborative learning and administration system.
and climate change, for people living in developing
EcoLeaders is an elective, voluntary curricular activity,
nations and neighbouring countries.
operating under the umbrella of a sponsoring school.
Students are supported by volunteer mentors –
ii. Extracurricular activities – Teachers and students can
teachers, parents, community members – as deemed
set up Earth Charter Youth Groups to develop ways of
appropriate by the school. The Programme begins with
putting into action the mission and aims of the Charter
a daylong workshop involving students and a core team
( Furthermore,
of teachers, mentors and facilitators. Already there is one
schools can consider strengthening their linkages with
school, Mercy College in Parramatta Sydney, an all girls
local community and environmental groups, e.g.
Catholic College, which has contacted the ER Centre
Landcare and neighbourhood centres. These groups can
and has begun to implement this leadership
also investigate what their local council is doing to
Programme as a pilot project.
implement Agenda 21 in their community.
iii. Social Justice Coordinators Network – Social justice
coordinators and interested teachers can encourage
The Pacific Calling Campaign and
Partnership includes sustainability in
education and research
students to form a social justice group, council, or
eco-committee to design and plan initiatives for
The Pacific Calling Campaign and Partnership has made
implementing Earth Charter principles at school.
great strides in giving a ‘Pacific face’ to education and
advocacy campaigns aimed at reducing Australia’s
iv. Religious Education and spirituality – Many young
greenhouse gas emissions, building awareness and
people and adults are searching for a meaningful
increasing access to Australia for environmental
spirituality, and an understanding of the Earth Charter
refugees from low-lying islands. The following sections
invites us to a renewed sense of God’s presence in all
describe actions taken by the Partnership to achieve its
creation; one that promotes an inclusive society living in
communion with, rather than exploiting, the earth and
one that inspires a sense of awe and wonder.
In addition to offering these learning approaches to
incorporate the Earth Charter into education for
sustainability, the ER Centre is creating a leadership
Programme.20 EcoLeaders seeks to develop new and
emerging leaders in schools, in the community, and in
organizations. Social issues are framed to include the
environment, justice and non-violence, underpinned by
the principles of the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is
used as an educational tool in the EcoLeaders
The EcoLeaders Programme is in its early stages and the ER Centre is working in
partnership with an independent consultant on its development.
Waves coming over the causeway- Kiribati Island.
(1) Context-specific research and educational
The material in the education kit is suitable for junior
science, geography, HSIE (Human Society and its
Environment) and English, as well as other areas of the
The network partners decided that it was important to
curriculum. The activities have been designed to
understand the implications of climate change
accommodate a range of grade levels and can be
throughout the Pacific islands, with a specific focus on
the islands of Kiribati. In this sense, they are modeling
accomplished primarily as small group tasks, while
future scenarios if temperature and greenhouse gases
relying on the use of DVD, as well as accessing the
levels continue to rise. The research is intended to
Internet, to conduct further research and find additional
provide insight for the following issues:
background and resource materials.
• Migration: ensuring an orderly migration of
Working together:
environmentally displaced people as the islands
the Diocese of Wollongong
will be uninhabitable long before they become
and the Edmund Rice Centre
• Refugee status: changing the UN’s definition of a
environmental factors
Aid: increasing development aid to the Pacific
and Torres Strait Islands
“The Catholic Education Office in the Diocese of
Wollongong has had a long and rewarding
relationship with the Edmund Rice Centre in
Sydney. In particular, the Pacific Calling Partnership
• Emission targets: setting realistic targets (60%
has been a joint venture that has shown the
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by
wisdom and experience of the staff at the
2050) and increasing renewable energy targets
Edmund Rice Centre, especially in the way
to 20.5% by 2010
they work with school staff and students. The
• Kyoto Protocol: ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and
Co-ordinators of the Programme, Jill Finnane and
having Australia accept a stronger commitment
for the period 2012-2017
knowledgeable presenters who are highly sought
• Preparation: training to help citizens of countries
that will have to be evacuated
after in the education sector for running
professional development days. The Edmund Rice
Using the research gathered so far, the staff from ER
Centre has also produced a number of excellent
Centre put together the “Pacific Calling Education Kit” for
resources used by schools, and they are currently
high schools and community groups. The kit provides
co-producing a musical resource with the Catholic
adults and youth with a deeper understanding of climate
Education Office which will have wide-spread
change, puts the current crisis in context and builds a
application in schools in Australia.”
larger picture of issues facing the low-lying Pacific
nations by using the small island nation of Kiribati as a
Mark Raue, Head of Religious Education and
case study. Soon the Partnership will add research on
Learning Services, Catholic Education Office,
the impacts of climate change on the Torres Strait to
Diocese of Wollongong
enrich the kit. The kit is in demand in New South Wales
and across Australia. The Pacific Calling Campaign and
Partnership also plans to produce a kit for use at the
primary school level.
The education kit includes a DVD entitled “Kiribati and
and experiences in social action, environmental change,
Global Warming,” produced by a local video production
sustainable living, culture and music. The goals are that
company in Kiribati – Nei Tabera Ni Kai, Inc. (They are
by sharing time together, they will learn to listen and
planning to produce a version in English to accompany
understand each other, increase their capacity to work
the future Primary School Kit.) The project is also
collaboratively, and will create a plan to present at a
producing a musical CD involving activist song-writers
workshop during the UNFCCC on behalf of Kiribati and
and Pacific and Torres Strait musicians, to help raise
the Islands of the Torres Strait. The delegates will include
awareness of issues associated with climate change – in
two I-Kiribati and two Australians (one of whom will be
the hopes of reaching a wider public with the message
a Torres Strait Islander).
through music.
These activities are intended to be an experiential
learning opportunity that will prepare them to take on
strong leadership roles in their communities and open
Using the ER Centre’s DVD – an “eye-opener”
in class
up possibilities for them to work collaboratively with
people from different countries and cultures.
“The social justice day presentation to our Year
(3) Cultural events as part of the education-
10s on Pacific and Global Warming by the
communication strategy
Edmund Rice Centre team was a real eye opener
for our students. I will be using the DVD and kit
To increase the awareness of these activities to the
with my Year 12s when teaching Environmental
wider community, the Pacific Calling Partnership has
Ethics in Studies of Religion this year. The DVD is
organized several events, such as the “Voices of the
simple, authentic and gets the message across
Pacific Conference,” hosted by Victoria University;
that the island people of Kiribati are feeling the
diocesan events; and professional development
impact of global warming and that we must
seminars that have reached 1,500 teachers this year. In
addition, cultural events are being organized with the
participation of Pacific Island performers (one is
Dr John Lee
scheduled for 15 September 2007). The launch of the
Curriculum Coordinator, Freeman Catholic
music CD will be at a public concert, with entertainment,
College, Bonnyrigg Heights
information, the sale of the Partnership’s educational
resources, and a speech from a local Member of
(2) Training on youth leadership
Lessons learned
The project is creating a “Youth Skills Exchange and
Leadership Training Programme” in partnership with the
Engaging a great number of organizations in the Pacific
Sisters of the Good Samaritan and the Catholic
Calling Campaign and Partnership has allowed the ER
Education Office in Wollongong. This Programme was
Centre to help bring about an awakening within the
developed in response to the subject of climate change
Catholic community in Australia to their relationship with
and involves conducting a seminar in Kiribati (October
the peoples of the Pacific and the Torres Strait – as
2007) and sending delegates to the United Nations
neighbours. According to Louise Robbards at the ER
Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Centre, these efforts to raise awareness on the
in December 2007.
differentiated impacts of climate change “…is also
helping to build a sense of connection between
In the Programme, Australian youth and Kiribati youth
Australians and Pacific Islanders, by celebrating and
will spend a week together in Kiribati sharing their skills
making known the human stories that bind us.”
For the ER Centre staff, education and political action are
“The people from low-lying island nations need our help
intertwined. In this sense, the Pacific Calling Campaign
and understanding to avoid become environmentally
and Partnership stresses the importance of recognizing
displaced people.”
the ‘ecological debt’ that Australia has to its
neighbouring low-lying Pacific and Torres Strait island
communities. Australia has a responsibility to help those
who are carrying the burdens of ecological imbalances
Contact information:
and, towards this recognition, Louise Robbards adds that
Louise Robbards
Edmund Rice Centre
Email: [email protected]
Portuguese Association of Environmental
Education (ASPEA), Portugal
The Earth Charter:
Environmental Education and
Sustainability Tool
Fátima Matos Almeida21
When ASPEA (the Portuguese Association of Environmental Education)
adopted the Earth Charter, it became obvious that all, or almost all, of its
work and activities were directly linked to the principles and values
promoted by the document. ASPEA therefore decided to incorporate the
dissemination and adoption of the Earth Charter into its interventions, and
to adapt its previously developed activities to promote this integrating
ASPEA is a nonprofit NGO founded in 1990, whose main purpose is to
develop environmental education in both formal and non-formal education
settings. Our work is mainly focused on the training of teachers, educators,
and other agents. The key objectives are to promote the exchange of
knowledge and information, create spaces for discussion, and provide and
implement national and international best practice models of education for
environment and sustainability.
Fátima Matos Almeida is the president of the Portuguese Association for Environmental Education
(ASPEA: Associação Portuguesa de Educação Ambiental).
ASPEA members were first introduced to the Earth
Charter at the Caretakers of the Environment
International Organization Conference in Costa Rica in
• Earth Charter Project - Live Science (Projeto
Carta da Terra - Ciência Viva) and
• Earth Charter Project: A Tool for Sustainability
1999, at the same time as this document was being
Project (Projeto CTIS - Carta da Terra Instru-
drafted. In 2003, an invitation was made to Guillem
mento de Sustentabilidade).
Ramis, the Earth Charter’s ‘Focal Point’ from Palma de
4. Communication and dissemination of the Earth
Mallorca, Spain, to make a presentation about his
Charter during all forums in which ASPEA
education project, Vivim Plegats, at the XII Pedagogical
members participate.
Conference of ASPEA. His experience and commitment
to developing innovative projects and methodologies for
education, as well as his creative uses of the Earth
1. Formation of environmental
educators and monitors
Charter, served as a source of inspiration for the
adoption of the Earth Charter within our association.
The Earth Charter has been used as a teacher-training
tool. The workshops invite participants to read and
discuss the Earth Charter document and to watch related
information and resources through the official Earth
videos produced by the Earth Charter Secretariat and by
Charter website, in order to raise awareness about the
Leonardo Boff.22
notion of sustainability through the document. Teacher
small groups and to create a poster, skit, or any other
training initiatives were launched in the areas of
visual display to be presented to the rest of the group.
Participants are then asked to form
environment, sustainability, citizenship and art. The Child
and Youth Forum, an annual event held since 2002 in
Between 2006 and 2007, the following training courses
Aveiro to celebrate Earth Day (April 22), became known
were offered: two for tutorial formation; four training
as the Child and Youth Earth Charter Forum.
sessions for young monitors of environmental education
for sustainability; and six brief sessions that were
Through a process of reflection, we came to view the
requested by schools and municipal chambers.
Earth Charter as a unique and innovative approach to
environmental education. The structured set of
principles and values serve to shift the traditional focus
2. Development of pedagogical
of environmental education or environmental problems
– waste, energy, climate change, etc. – towards a more
In 2006, the Ministry of Education and the General
holistic framework. This is based on an understanding of
Direction of Innovation and Curricular Development,
the need to explore the relationships between human
edited the Sustainability Guide - Earth Charter, which
beings, as well as between human beings and the
was translated and adapted from the Earth Charter
environment. This approach also enables an analysis of
Teacher's Guidebook. The Guide, resulting from a
the consequences of our everyday actions on the
partnership with ASPEA, was first presented and
natural environment to which we belong, and of which
distributed to nearly 150 participants at ASPEA's XIV
we are an integral part.
Pedagogical Conference of Environmental Education,
which took place in Lisbon. Subsequently, we have used
With the purpose of enhancing the role of education to
this material during joint presentations at similar events.
build sustainable societies, ASPEA has used the Earth
The Guide will also be made available through the
Charter in four main action areas:
website of the Ministry of Education.
1 Formation of environmental educators and
At one school, the teachers also translated and adapted
an Earth Charter Guide for Children. The pupils
2. Development of pedagogical resources.
produced two videos and two computer games that
3. Project implementation:
were inspired by this document.
Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian theologian, one of the founders of liberation theology
and author of more than sixty books. He is also an Earth Charter Commissioner.
3. Implementation of projects based
on the Earth Charter
During the course of this project, six hands-on sessions
were held in every class of the partner schools.
Additionally, two field trips were carried out with nearly
The “Earth Charter - Live Science” Project
200 children and their respective teachers participating.
The field trip to the Lisbon Forest Park was organized for
This project used the Earth Charter document as an
the youngest pupils, featuring nature exploration games
interdisciplinary tool to offer classes for pre-school and
and activities. Meanwhile, older students participated in
primary school students (from four to ten years of age).
a visit to the National Engineering, Technology and
These sessions focused on cooperative learning, learning
Innovation Institute, where they learned about clean and
science through hands-on activities, real-life learning
environmentally-friendly sources of energy, especially
situations and basic exercises of experimental science.
sun and wind.
The project was also intended to encourage teachers to
bring more enthusiasm into their pedagogical methods,
and to link science-related subjects with the principles
and values of the Earth Charter.
The project embodied some Earth Charter principles as
guiding forces for children’s education globally, with the
view to giving their learning a sense of meaning and
promoting actions of respect, concern and responsibility
towards the environment.
This project was carried out in 2006–2007 in four
schools near Lisbon. It was financially supported by the
Live Science Programme of the National Agency for
Field trip to Parque Florestal de Monsanto with primary school.
Scientific Culture, and was designed to sensitize preschool and primary school teachers about one of the
Earth Charter Project: A Tool for Sustainability (CTIS
greatest environmental problems that humanity faces in
the new millennium – climate change.
This project is based on a methodological proposal for
A significant overlap was found between the
applying the principles and values inherent to the Earth
teaching of experimental sciences and the principles
Charter within the context of the United Nations Decade
of Earth Charter:
of Education for Sustainable Development (20052014). This proposal is broad in both scale and scope-
Principle 1 - Respect Earth and life in all its diversity;
international (Countries with Portuguese as Official
(community of life; citizenship duties)
Language - CPLP), regional (Europe), national (Portugal)
Principle 5 - Protect and restore the integrity of
Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for
biological diversity and the natural processes that
sustain life; (waste, consumption and conservation;
Principle 6 - Prevent harm as the best method of
environmental protection and, when knowledge is
limited, apply a precautionary approach; (pollution,
energy and climate change)
and local (Regional Education Co-ordinations).
The purpose of the project is to turn schools into
educational poles for sustainable development, and to
turn citizens into knowledgeable agents for change. This
mission should be carried out within the framework of
the Earth Charter’s values and principles, and through
their dissemination and implementation by all
educational actors in the community.
families supported the students in producing a
• At the local level, the project has been
video about waste, both past and present. This
video featured a re-enactment of a picnic held
Coordination of the Algarve region. Several
thirty years ago and a picnic in the present-day
primary and secondary schools have been
context. Students were then asked to compare
involved: the Group of Schools of Salir (Loulé)
the difference in the quantity and quality of
and the Group of Schools of Algoz (Silves),
waste produced in the two examples, and to
among others.
reflect on Principle 7 of the Earth Charter as it
The project is expected to expand to other
relates to the video.
Regional Education Coordination areas, as
suggested by the interest shown by schools,
authorities and other stakeholders involved in
• Contribute
implementation of the United Nations Decade
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
of Education for Sustainable Development
• At the national level, a committee was created
(DESD) and the strategy of Education for
to involve representatives of the Ministry of
Sustainable Development of United Nations
Education (General Coordination of Innovation
Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
and Curricular Development) and the Ministry of
News has been published about the actions
Environment (Institute of the Environment), as
carried out at the schools, through an online blog
well as the National Committee of UNESCO as
and through various local communication
an observer entity.
agencies. The project has also been included in
• At the regional level, in January 2006, a
the efforts of the Decade at the national level,
collaboration agreement was signed with the
through the Portuguese Committee of UNESCO.
Salamanca, Spain-based Local Initiatives of
Castilla and Leon Foundation (Fundación
• Identify a set of indicators to measure the
Iniciativas Locales, Castilla y León), for the school
project's level of success, as well as the
year 2006–2007. The latter, in coordination with
participation levels and contributions of different
ASPEA, also developed a parallel project in
entities for the Decade.
• At the international level, a partnership was
• Encourage the pedagogical use of the Earth
established with the Community of Countries of
Charter and other related resources.
Portuguese Language (CPLP) to share the
experiences and materials developed during the
• Compile and create documents and materials
course of the project. Primarily involved in the
supporting pedagogical methods and the
collaboration have been those countries where
dissemination of best practice examples within
the need for Education for Sustainable
the framework of the Earth Charter.
Development is considered to be the most
Generally, the project includes a teacher training
workshop, a local evaluation and follow-up of the
project, a Child and Youth Forum, and a seminar for
The general objectives of the project are to:
teachers. We believe that the development of
• Transform the school into a pole of information
professional competencies for teachers and educators
Development is fundamental for realizing the objectives
school should also be an agent for intervention
of the Decade regarding the implementation of
and social mobilization, one which is operated
educational policies, as well as for putting into practice
by students and their families. In one case,
the Earth Charter’s principles and values.
Education for Sustainable Development.
Within this context, the Project involves three main
to funding from the Municipal Chamber of Loulé. The
stages for training professors and other technical
local community publicly commended the outcome of
partners: a periodic follow up of acquired skills; a
this project during commemorative events related to
periodic follow-up in the field; and ongoing knowledge
Sprig Day, held in May.
exchange and skills transfer between colleagues and
In addition, an Earth Charter Child and Youth Forum was
project partners. This structure is intended to, among
held in Algarve in 2007. The 300 participants included
other aims, facilitate thinking about the theoretical basis
students, teachers, parents, heads of education and
of ESD and about the methodologies required to
different entities within the project, technicians and
explore the Earth Charter and its educational use, as well
members of local organizations.
as to evaluate processes and results.
This forum, by giving a leading role and voice to children
Each teacher, within his/her discipline, is encouraged to
and youth, served to publicly highlight the results of
work in a transversal and interdisciplinary manner; to
those projects that had been elaborated by four schools
select one or more principles of the Earth Charter in
collaboration with students; and to structure a project
whose final outcome will be presented to the entire
This Project has enabled curricular content and inter-
scholastic community during the Child and Youth
disciplinary subject areas to be incorporated into the
Forum, which is held at the end of every school year.
diverse initiatives undertaken by the partner schools in
The Project, during its pilot phase in 2005–2006, paved
the way for an initial evaluation of its methodology.
contextualized within the framework of national and
international objectives and strategies by providing
teachers/educators, considered it to be a project of high
interveners with a theoretical basis and a policy guiding
pedagogical value for thinking and disseminating of
pedagogical practice within the field. Further details
Education for Sustainable Development practices.
about the project can be accessed by visiting the blog:
There was a general consensus to continue to support
and develop the project.
In general terms, the methodology for applying the
In 2006–2007, the Institute of the Environment and the
Earth Charter Project: A Tool for Sustainability, is
waste management company ALGAR, announced their
structured as follows:
funding of the project. One participating school involved
a total of 125 students from five Grade 7-8 classes in
Teacher training workshop
the Project. Teachers from Visual and Technological
Education were in charge of coordinating this initiative.
Teachers involved in the project must attend a Training
The final product of this work has been a collection of
Workshop for promoting competences in the field of
30 posters with illustrations and taglines alluding to
Education for Sustainable Development in general, and
Earth Charter principles and values, as studied and
for exploring the pedagogical value of the Earth Charter
selected by the students.
in particular.
A group of schools from the city of Salir involved 13
Pedagogical exploration of the Earth Charter in
teachers and 291 students, from different disciplines
the classroom
and different levels of primary education, in the Project.
The schools produced and distributed a collection of
Pedagogical exploration is based on the development of
eight post cards that were illustrated by students on the
basis of Earth Charter principles. The 16 principles of the
Sustainable Development, as well as on the pedagogical
document were transcribed on 2,000 post cards, thanks
use of the Earth Charter by other teachers, regardless of
competences include to:
In addition to sensitizing participants about adopting
more sustainable ways of living, each class/ school/
group/community should create a Commitment Charter
Identify which Earth Charter principles are
– summarizing the vision/reading of the students (and
suitable and relevant to their teaching practice.
other members of the educational community) about
Integrate them into their classes (e.g. course
the principles and values inherent to the Earth Charter.
These Commitment Charters should become the base
Write a report detailing all activities that were
for the project's final product.
carried out, identifying: which is (are) the
principle(s) and value(s) of the Earth Charter
that were selected for pedagogical exploration;
Lessons Learned
which course content served as a base for this
exploration; and, what is the pedagogical
After two years of experimenting with the pedagogical
methodology employed.
use of the Earth Charter, we can confirm that the Earth
Charter is a very useful tool for developing the
Meetings with education authorities and other
In addition to the school meetings required for
developing the project, the coordinator(s), once
appointed, should participate in the Local Committee of
the project.
Contact with the community
professional competences of educators and teachers
regarding Education for Sustainable Development. This
is indispensable for educating our children and youth for
a better world. The vast diversity and amount of
documents available on the Internet offer good support
resources for teachers’ work. However, it is also crucial
to offer training sessions and promote knowledgesharing, as well as to carry out follow-up visits and
project evaluations in the schools, in order to achieve
project objectives and build sustainable partnerships.
It is crucial to develop a non-formal education
programme for local community members within the
framework of life-long learning. In Algarve, for example,
the In Loco Association is designed to develop such
initiatives in partnership with local schools/groups.
Within the context of developing an Earth Charter for a
community (Commitment Charter), it might be useful to
draft a questionnaire for members of the local
population. First, this questionnaire will serve to raise
awareness about the project, the Earth Charter and the
Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
Additionally, it will obtain valuable input from the local
population for the creation of their community’s
Commitment Charter.
Contact information:
Fátima Matos Almeida
Associação Portuguesa de
Educação Ambiental
(Portuguese Association for
Environmental Education)
Email: [email protected]
University of Guanajuato, Mexico
For youth, by youth:
Using the Earth Charter to raise
awareness among university
Shafía Súcar Súccar and Magdalena Sandoval23
Dr. Shafía Súcar Súccar, Coordinator of the Institutional Programme on the
Environment (Pimaug Programme) at the University of Guanajuato in
Mexico, uses and promotes the Earth Charter as a pedagogical tool. She is
convinced that “…our present-day situation has emerged as a result of the
type of relationship that we, as human beings, have had with nature, with
other human beings and with the broader web of life.”
According to Dr. Súccar, the Earth Charter, in addition to being a
compendium of values and principles that can be integrated into our
everyday lives, appeals to both our rational and emotional faculties.
The document thereby offers a more holistic and balanced means of
understanding the environmental problems that we face today. She and
Professor Magdalena Sandoval, also involved in the Pimaug Programme,
are committed to encouraging university students across all disciplines to
assume a sense of responsibility towards realizing sustainability principles.
Dr. Shafía Súcar Súccar is the coordinator for the Institutional Programme on the Environment
(Pimaug) at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico; Magdalena Sandoval is a professor at the
University of Guanajuato, and is also involved in Pimaug.
The starting point for this case study came when the
pamphlets at workshops. It is important to mention that
University of Guanajuato decided to incorporate its
the printing of the first 2,000 copies of the Charter was
values and principles into administrative activities and
made possible thanks to the support of the University of
academic content. Faculty members of the Pimaug
Guanajuato and the Ecological Institute of Guanajuato.
Programme called upon Bachelor’s degree students
across all disciplines to undergo the necessary training
Additionally, in March 2007, the First National Training
to become Youth Promoters of the Earth Charter at the
Workshop for Youth Promoters of the Earth Charter was
held and hosted by the University of Guanajuato.
Approximately 44 students from higher education
In 2005, three Environmental Engineering students
institutions from across the country were in attendance
expressed an interest in completing the University Social
and, as a result, the National Network of Youth
Service component of their programme as Youth
Promoters of the Earth Charter was formed.
Promoters of the Earth Charter. These students
underwent a training process specifically designed for
this purpose, and acquired the skills required to
Future objectives and current
independently facilitate Earth Charter workshops, for
The objectives set out for the short-, medium- and long-
youth and by youth.
term are designed to assist us in expanding the
Between the second semester of 2005 and July 2007,
knowledge and internalization of the Earth Charter
a total of 27 workshops were facilitated by Youth
principles within the university sphere. In our opinion,
Promoters of the Earth Charter, for youth and by youth.
this is a crucial factor in ensuring that environmental
Approximately six hundred students, as well as
issues are taken into consideration in all the activities
numerous professors and administrative staff, have
and decision-making processes of the university.
participated in these workshops. The total number of
undoubtedly higher, estimated at 3,000 people.
Within this context, it should be mentioned that the
University of Guanajuato, along with eleven other
Mexican universities, joined together to create the
The following are the short and medium-term
Mexican Consortium of University Environmental
objectives of the University of Guanajuato:
• To increase the number of students promoting
the Earth Charter;
incorporate an environmental perspective into all of its
academic programmes through a cross-disciplinary
• To maximize the dissemination of the Charter
inside and outside of the University;
• To promote the Charter among the university’s
staff and faculty; and,
• To generate spaces for debate and discussion,
among other activities.
Significant progress has already been made in achieving
the objectives set out for disseminating and training with
the Earth Charter. Two additional objectives that have
already been realized include: the University of
Guanajuato’s official endorsement of the Earth Charter;
as well as the design and printing of the Earth Charter
for the State of Guanajuato, and the distribution of these
Activities at the Earth Charter Workshop - University of Guanajuato.
approach, and to provide ongoing training to teaching
to encourage young people to reflect on Earth Charter
faculty on environment and sustainability-related topics.
principles, to internalize them, and to become
committed to putting into practice those values selected
Complexus has also drafted a range of related
by each participant. Some minimum criteria and
documents, including a declaration of support within the
conditions have been defined for the effective
framework of the United Nations Decade of Education
implementation of Earth Charter workshops, and these
for Sustainable Development, which was signed in
include the following:
January 2006, by each of the universities’ twelve
Rectors. This document is a significant indication from
• Indoors space: a hall with suitable ventilation;
higher education institutions in Mexico and in Latin
natural light and the possibility of making the
America of the necessity to make important changes
room dark in order to use the projector;
towards building a more sustainable world.
comfortable chairs and movable tables, placed
in a horseshoe shape
What has also emerged is a series of ambitious
• Outdoor space: close to the hall, with vegetation
objectives relating to the implementation of the Earth
and the possibility of carrying out group activities
Charter as an essential tool for education for sustainable
• Materials used: digital projector, screen, flip chart,
development; as a key element in community service,
different coloured markers and recyclable paper
research and extension projects; as a support to
• Food and drinks during breaks: natural and
educational materials and publications; and, above all
else, as a reference point to the everyday pedagogy of
teaching staff. This document is thereby perceived as
healthy; set of re-usable dishes
• Clothing worn by the participants: comfortable
and appropriate for outdoor conditions
bearing a significant impact on the learning processes of
students and the overall performance of the university.
The following table details the programme for an eighthour workshop. The phases remain the same across all
three versions of the workshop, though the exercises
Methodological Aspects
vary and the length of time devoted to them is adjusted
according to the target group.
The University’s training workshops for Earth Charter
ages of 16-25 years, and have relied, in large part, on
the invaluable assistance of Mateo Castillo Ceja, an
Earth Charter International Council Member, and other
members of the National Earth Charter Secretariat in
Mexico. Over the years, youth participants have acquired
the skills necessary to modify and improve the design of
the workshops. Their input has also enhanced the
originality of the sessions, and has made them more
accessible to, and attractive for, young people,
particularly those based in the State of Guanajuato.
Earth Charter workshops
At the time of writing this case study, there are three
different versions of the Earth Charter workshop: each
one lasting 4 hours, 8 hours, or 14 hours. The main
mission of all the workshops, regardless of duration, is
One of the activities at the Earth Charter workshop- University of Guanajuato.
promoters are designed for young people between the
Programme for an 8-hour Earth Charter Workshop
Introduction and integration
20 min.
Mending the world.
Earth Charter video.
Sensitize participants about the
themes to be covered in the
Need for an Earth Charter
20 min.
Presentation by the facilitator.
20 min.
30 min.
Earth Charter Initiative
30 min.
Presentation by the facilitator.
Preamble of the Earth Charter
30 min.
Presentation by the facilitator.
Dissemination of the Earth Charter.
Directly engage with each
participant by personally handing
out the Earth Charter
Getting to know and internalizing
your Charter
180 min.
Find the Values and Prioritize Them.
Invite the participants, through
group work, to internalize, define
and put into practice the values
and principles of the Earth
Provide a brief historical overview
of the Earth Charter
Feel the Earth;
Uses of the Earth Charter
30 min.
Inflated globe;
Round table.
Tapping into Our Creativity
60 min.
The Human Box;
Feeling the Beat.
Signature of Personal Endorsement
30 min.
Detailed descriptions of the activities
outlined in the 8-hour workshop
Invite the participants, through
group work, to internalize, define
and put into practice the values
and principles of the Earth
Ask each participant to make one
or several individualized
commitments, and encourage
them to incorporate the Earth
Charter values and principles into
their everyday lives
participants to study the problems listed and to
propose a few solutions for each. The purpose of this
exercise is to reflect on the role of human beings in
Mending the world
causing and solving global problems.
Material: sheets of paper, pens or markers, computer
and projector
Procedure: Project an image of the Earth onto the
Material: a stack of cards on which the antecedents
wall. Ask the participants to identify what they
and history of the Earth Charter are written,
consider to be the greatest problem that exists on our
computer and projector
planet, and then to draw it or to write it down. Once
Procedure: After the Earth Charter has been
completed, all participants should post their visual or
distributed to participants, and overviews of its
written response on the projected Earth. Invite the
antecedents and history have been provided, divide
the group into two teams and give each a stack of
Inflated Globe
cards upon which the antecedents are written, but
Material: a globe
not in the correct order.
Each team has to re-
Procedure: All of the participants are asked to
configure the cards into the right chronological order,
remain silent. Without warning, one of the workshop
and the first to finish becomes the winner. This
facilitators begins to walk around the entire hall
exercise reiterates the importance of teamwork, and
while slowly inflating the globe with his/her breath.
enables participants to familiarize themselves with
A sense of frustration arises in the classroom as the
the history of the Earth Charter.
participants do not know what is going on and as
the globe continues to expand.
Find the Values and Prioritize Them
The facilitator
continues to inflate it until it reaches the bursting
Material: Copies of the Earth Charter, paper and
point. After the commotion subsides, invite the
participants to describe the emotions that they
Procedure: Distribute copies of the Earth Charter
experienced, as the globe was about to burst. An
and divide the group into four teams. Each team is
analogy can be drawn with the planet Earth and the
assigned to one section of the document, to identify
feelings of helplessness that arise amidst the
the values contained within it, and to write them
environmental crisis. Encourage the participants to
down. Once this has been completed, each team
assume an active role in proposing a solution that
should select two values that it considers are lacking
could improve the relationship between human
in modern-day society, and to describe these values
beings and nature.
in their own words. At the end of the activity, teams
share the values they have chosen and their own
definitions with the rest of the group.
Human Box
Material: plastic crates (refreshment containers) one
for every ten participants
Procedure: Divide the group into teams of ten, and
Material: adhesive labels with qualitative adjectives
tell them that all team members must climb on top
such as: fat, envious, beautiful, avaricious, bad,
of the crate and stay there for at least a minute
idiotic, ugly, etc.
without touching the floor. At the end of the activity,
Procedure: Post a qualitative adjective on the back
the winning team must explain the factors behind its
of a few participants without telling them what the
success. These are likely to include effective
label is. The remaining group members must treat
coordination, teamwork and utilizing individual
these participants according to the label on their
back until the ‘stereotyped ones’ guess the correct
adjective. At the end of the activity it is useful to
Feeling the Beat
reflect upon stereotypes and discuss why human
Procedure: Ask the participants to run to the beat of
beings tend to judge others by their appearance.
the selected music or to undertake any other
This exercise teaches the values of social equity,
intense physical exercise (dancing, jumping, etc.) for
respect and non-discrimination.
three minutes or until their heartbeats rise. Invite the
participants to place their hand to their heart, to
Feel the Earth
reflect on what they have learned over the course of
Process: In an open space (preferably a garden),
the workshop, and to identify a commitment that
invite the participants to relax, to close their eyes
they would like to make towards the planet Earth,
and to begin to feel with their remaining senses, by
our home. At the end of the activity, the participants
can share their thoughts and commitments with the
surroundings. The objective is to have participants
group, or keep them quietly to themselves. The
directly connect with the Earth, to get back in touch
intention is for every participant to set out and
with those sensations that are often overlooked or
neglected in the fast-paced rhythm of our lives.
sustainability principles.
Lessons learned
For the University of Guanajuato, the Earth Charter is an
educational tool undergoing constant growth and
evolution. For this reason, we look forward to designing
and launching new initiatives that – in addition to feeding
into this current project – will motivate and attract a
growing number of young Earth Charter promoters.
These activities will include a campaign to raise
awareness about the Earth Charter across campus
through informative posters; and a series of conferences
and debates to be held on a wide range of issues,
including those values that have been identified as
lacking or absent in modern-day society.
An analysis of the University of Guanajuato’s experiences
using the Earth Charter over the past two years has
enabled us to identify several areas of success, such as
the ongoing recruitment of youth promoters. Another
successful venture has been the ongoing evaluation of
the workshops’ content and facilitator roles, in order to
continuously improve the training programmes. Overall,
the initiative has benefited greatly from the insights of
promoters involved since the beginning of the project,
from the ideas shared by new participants, and from
experts in the field.
The Earth Charter project has increased in scale and in
scope, both at the University of Guanajuato and in
Mexico. It has become one of the key action areas of the
University’s Institutional Programme on the Environment
to promote the training of community members, in
general, and university students and staff, in particular.
Students can sign up to become a promoter of the Earth
Charter as part of the University Social Service
component of their programme. However, since the
dissemination activities require more time and
dedication than other projects, there has been a lack of
interest and commitment on the part of some students.
In reality, the main problem is that the Service is often
viewed – by both professors and students – as a mere
formality, and thereby it loses its true meaning as a
channel for community service. Fortunately, however,
many students are committed to dedicating the
necessary time and effort to their service. These are the
students who are needed for ambitious projects such as
the Earth Charter, which might require a little bit more
dedication but which ultimately reap great rewards.
An important but underdeveloped area relates to the
design and application of indicators to measure the
qualitative and quantitative impacts of the Earth Charter
project, both inside and outside the University of
Guanajuato. The evaluations that are currently carried out
at the end of each workshop (as previously mentioned)
have been very useful to improve and adapt the content
of training sessions, including modifying exercises,
support materials and the ongoing professional
development of workshop facilitators.
In our opinion, a crucial starting point would be to
evaluate the extent to which our university’s students
have benefited from participating in the Earth Charter
workshops. This would enable us to assess the addedvalue potential that the knowledge, internalization and
implementation of Earth Charter principles have had on
young people and on their area of influence.
In addition to our successes, we have also made our
share of mistakes – from which we have learned to
improve our workshop methodologies and evaluations.
Those teams containing many youth promoters have
generally not functioned as effectively as those in smaller
groups. This is due to the fact that the more participants
involved, the more difficult it is to coordinate group
meetings, during and after the workshop. Therefore, we
have tried to limit the size of the promotional teams to
Contact information:
Dr. Shafía Súcar Súccar
Coordinator of the Institutional
Programme on the Environment
University of Guanajuato, Mexico
six participants, in order to minimize geographical
disparity and to facilitate group organization and
Email: [email protected]
The BioMA Institute, Brazil
Improving the quality of life in
the communities of Sao Paulo
Aieska Marinho Lacerda Silva24 and Tarcisio Cardieri25
The project “Young Friends of Nature” was created to produce visible
results in the areas of sustainability and structural change in various
communities in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is an initiative of the Association for
Nature Conservation and Improvement of the Quality of Life (BioMA
Institute), in partnership with Sebrae-SP (support office for small and
micro-enterprises in Sao Paulo). In 2001-02, the BioMa Institute did not
initially succeed in realizing its goal of promoting integrated and
sustainable development in the settlements of the Pontal do
Paranapanema region. After an evaluation of the project, it became clear
that in order to bring about positive change and better connect with
community leaders, a new project would have to be launched. This time,
the focus would be on working primarily with students and teaching staff.
This decision was based on the recognition that teachers are an intrinsic
part of any community, with a significant influence on many citizens.
Bioma Institute President, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Researcher, Amana-key, Sao Paulo, Brazil
BioMA Institute and participating
Description of the activities
In each of the participating schools (usually comprising
The BioMA Institute is a civil society, nonprofit and public
a group of approximately 300 pupils), a university
sector organization. The Institute was established in
trainee acts as a monitor to distribute questionnaires,
2002 following its participation in Project 7 Sigma, an
undertake a survey, and employ other instruments to
initiative promoted by the Brazil-based management
observe and consult on the local situation.
firm Amana-Key that dealt with the theme of societal
By working closely with the schools’ teachers and pupils,
change and reinvention. The mission of BioMA Institute
the university trainee is asked a seemingly countless
is to promote the improvement of people’s quality of life
through human development projects, in order to
development and general social issues.
disseminate and transfer knowledge about sustainable
and supported development.
For example, issues of race, gender, religion, sustainable
development, misery, hunger, health, access to
The Institute’s mission is carried out through projects
information, violence, social and economic justice, and
with this focus and objective in mind. The projects are
peace have all been identified as areas of concern
executed through partnerships with public agencies,
within the school environment. It has become clear that
schools, universities, companies, associations, and other
teachers and pupils are very aware of those issues that
non-governmental organizations. These efforts target
must be addressed in order to successfully achieve their
Brazilian regions with a low Human Development Index.
– and our – common objectives.
The Institute’s projects have been financed by the
National Fund for Development and Education (FNDE,
Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento e Educação) and
the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC, Ministério
de Educação e Cultura). The Institute has also received
support from the Secretaries of Education from fourteen
cities; participating schools and their members; the
Social Service of the Industry (SESI); of the municipality
Presidente Prudente, and the Naia Institute.26
Philosophy of the Project
The “Young Friends of Nature” project involves the
analysis of problems and issues affecting local schools
Students and teacher sharing about different interrelated issues.
and their communities. The BioMA does not focus on a
The active participation and feedback of school
few selected aspects of the learning environment;
stakeholders has been very encouraging. As a result of
instead, we adopt a holistic approach to study the entire
the Institute’s activities, each school has been able to
educational setting, which results in a better quality of
identify its most pressing needs and concerns. Together
life for all involved. This is our central mission and
with the local communities, the school has then been
philosophy. The aim of the project is also to acquire
given the option to develop (or not) a small project,
knowledge about the localities, and to improve
utilizing local resources for support as well as the
relationships with their community members. This
guidelines and supervision of the BioMA Institute.
project seeks to always take into account the realities of
the communities and of the participating schools.
The Naia Institute developed a version of the Earth Charter adapted for
children, which the Bioma Institute has used in its work.
The Earth Charter has been used as a framework for
people possible in building a society that promotes the
discussing and analyzing each situation presented in the
values of sustainability. Until the time of writing, the
classrooms. The Charter has helped to introduce and
project has already been carried out in more than
promote the idea of executing sustainability-related
thirteen cities, reaching 37 schools, 600 educational
activities among parents, teachers and community
professionals and 17,000 pupils.
The project is designed to be carried out in the
The key has been to involve the local community, to
following six phases:
disseminate knowledge, and to enhance the dignity and
autonomy of the community members. Empowered,
1st Phase: Sensitization and trust building among
each individual has been given the power to enact
the participants.
change and to contribute to the promotion of an
improved quality of life and sustainable development
2nd Phase: Insight into the realities of each school
within his/her own community.
through the use of various instruments, such as
surveys, questionnaires, and live diagnosis. Through
Timeframe of the Project
this phase, a deeper knowledge can be acquired
about the local problems faced by the schools and
The “Young Friends of Nature” project began in May
2005, and continued over the course of the next two
years. In twelve cities of the Pontal do Paranapanema
3rd Phase: Enhancing the capacity to dream –
region, the project was launched in January 2006, and
through the use of pedagogical tools such as the
lasted for six months. Approximately 11,000 pupils, 32
Construction of the Dream Tree and the Wall of
municipal primary and secondary schools, and 500
educational professionals participated directly or
indirectly in the project. In the city of Sumaré, the project
was initiated in May 2006 and is still in progress.
Similarly, projects continue to be ongoing in five
different schools, comprising approximately 6,500
pupils and 150 educational professionals.
The main objective of the project is to put into
4th Phase: Increasing the awareness of the
principles and values of the Earth Charter.
5th Phase: Design and implementation of new
teaching activities that address those problems
identified during the live diagnosis. The new
activities can then be used to complement the
existing school curriculum, and are aimed at
promoting the Earth Charter principles.
practice those principles and values that promote
respect for the universal values of human life.
Disseminating information and raising awareness
among participants, who will then strive for solutions
in their own localities, can help achieve this
Methodology 27
The Earth Charter serves as the fundamental core of all
our activities. The main objective of the latter is to
involve the greatest number of educators and young
Students reading and drawing the Earth Charter principles.
The central methodology of the project was designed in collaboration with partner organizations and,
in particular, through the participation of the following advisors: Dr. Maria Rita Avanzi (Doctor by
Education Faculty of USP); Alessandra Buonavoglia Costa Pinto (Master in Environmental Science
by USP); and Elisandra Girardelli Godoi (Master in Education by Unicamp).
6th Phase: Promotion of activities to be undertaken
The school adopted an interdisciplinary approach to
by schools and communities, in order to form
solve the problem. Math teachers and students
concrete action plans aimed at providing a navigable
developed graphs on consumption and values.
path to sustainable development.
Portuguese Language teachers drafted pertinent texts
to describe how the water was being transported to
Project’s Steps
the school. Science and Geography teachers focused
on topics related to local relief, fountains, rivers, and
In this project, each participating school is invited to map
pollution, among others. Art teachers produced
out some problems or situations needing to be
drawings and maps about the way in which the water
addressed or changed. For example, one school
travelled from reservoirs to the schools.
identified the over-consumption of natural resources as
a problem, including the excessive use of water and
food. Principles three to six of an adaptation of the Earth
Example two: Problems during school
Charter for children were used as pedagogical tools to
bring these subjects to the fore. Our project facilitators
Through an analysis of the school’s mealtime
then discussed these problems with the pupils and
periods, it was determined that the presentation, as
teachers, and these themes were re-visited through
well as the manner in which food was served to
games, readings, and songs. The latter activities proved
children, was unsatisfactory. The children did not
to be useful in terms of analyzing the problem and
use tableware, such as forks and knives; instead,
searching for appropriate solutions and actions.
they only used spoons. The pupils were not
capable of serving themselves; they had to be
Here, creativity helped put the principles into practice.
served by adults. Also, the use of glass plates was
Teachers from across various disciplines have since
forbidden due to their perceived risks for children;
drawn on similar pedagogical methods in the classroom
instead, they were substituted by disposable plates,
to approach questions and themes in a creative and
thereby producing more waste. The menu was
multidisciplinary manner. The following are two
found to lack the variety of foods necessary for a
examples of this type of approach.
balanced diet. This was primarily due to the
methods used to process the food, which
Example one: Wasting water and other
natural resources
furthermore generated a substantial amount of
waste in the cafeteria.
The first step was to determine how water was
To address these issues, the school community
transported to the school, and to verify the supply
launched an initiative to construct a vegetable
source (i.e. from which river, lagoon or dam).
garden, orchards and seedbeds of condiment herbs
Second, a collective effort was made to evaluate the
in the school yard. This initiative was aimed at
water’s quality, how many litters the school
improving and diversifying the menu offered to the
consumed, and how much the water cost. Drinking
children, as well as enhancing the overall school
fountains, toilet bowls, leakages, and garden irrigation
were identified as the main sources of wasted water.
To conclude, we disseminated information about
To ensure an interdisciplinary approach, teachers
which actions could be taken by pupils and school
from all subject areas were involved in contributing
community members – once they had this
to the:
information – to modify the situation and prevent
wasting this natural resource. To further address this
• Development of vegetable gardens and seedbeds of
problem, the school community launched a school
condiments to increase the variety and improve
campaign to reduce the waste of water by 20%.
the lunches served at the school.
• Monitor the wasting of food, by using different
generate a more holistic and innovative way of
measurements and graphics. Evaluations and
understanding its respective field.
demonstrations were carried out daily for the
The integration of the Earth Charter into pedagogical
methods and practice has promoted new learning
• Campaign for effective organic and non-organic
dynamics among pupils. This has enabled students to
garbage packaging aimed at reducing the
acquire unique learning experiences through new
number of pigeons around the school. The latter
subject areas such as ethics, environment, and solidarity.
problem had been caused by the fact that foods
These new lessons address local issues, such as
were not being appropriately discarded.
exclusion, race, religion and natural resources, and bear
• Utilization of tableware such as forks and knives
a direct relevance to everyday life. This has enabled the
to teach the children how to use these utensils.
Institute to raise awareness of the importance of
• Modification of the lunchtime routine so that the
universal humane values and of the principles of
pupils are encouraged to serve themselves and
sustainable development among students and staff.
sample new foods. This promotes a healthy
change in dietary habits, as well as a process of
Through the project, the participating schools have also
socialization whereby the pupils discuss what to
been able to operate collaboratively as a network. This
eat and where to sit (rather than being required
has enabled an increasing exchange of ideas between
to sit in their designated classroom). By serving
schools and communities, particularly now that group
themselves, the students also create less waste
meetings and discussions are held every month. All of
in the form of unfinished food. Furthermore, this
the resources used in the project activities were made
helps to significantly reduce the workload of
readily available to the schools. The vast majority of
assistants and school cooks.
activities also applied the rule of the Four R’s: Reuse,
Reduce, Recycle and Rethink.
To develop concrete classroom activities, the pedagogical
supervisors of the project and the trainees carried out
research to find texts, songs, films, and books that could
be related to the theme and principles of the Earth
Charter. The projects always started by identifying the
problems and themes to be explored, and then
incorporating these into classroom activities and content.
The ultimate result should always be concrete action.
Schools having participated in the “Young Friends of
Nature” initiative have already begun to develop their
own projects, such as:
Example of a vegetable garden.
• Creation of a family support centre
General Observations
• Organic and non-organic vegetable gardens and
Overall, the great advantage of using the Earth Charter
• Herbariums
as a pedagogical tool is that it does not necessarily have
• Improvement of the school environment through
to conform to a rigid structure. All of the content and
the adoption of practices such as using tableware,
subject areas of the Brazilian national curriculum can be
diversifying the food menu and nutritional
approached through the four pillars and principles of the
Earth Charter. Any discipline can utilize the principles to
• Construction of parks
• Creation of a recipe book of Brazilian herbs and
Plans are already underway to release a book, entitled
Histories of Learning and Teaching, to feature best
• Plantation of native forestry
practice examples of the project. This will include articles
• Creation of a book chronicling the history of the
and testimonials from participants and educators who
school’s conservationist efforts and the positive
generously contributed their time and efforts to the
effects of this on the community.
“Young Friends of Nature” project. The text will also
highlight best practice examples of activities undertaken
by the participating schools, so that other schools might
Lessons learned
learn from the great successes that we have had.
It is urgent and necessary for education to incorporate a
Overall, the project is a great testament to the user-
diversity of learning methods, activities and subject areas
friendly nature of the Earth Charter programme. It is our
within its curricular parameters. An emphasis should be
core belief that only when learning – based on universal
placed on human rights to guarantee the same
humane values – becomes widespread across both
educational and personal achievement opportunities for
formal and informal learning environments, will we have
all. In this project, the Earth Charter has served as an
the chance to create a more sustainable form of
effective pedagogical tool and as a guide for future
development that will benefit the entire ‘earth
actions to be carried out by the participating schools.
According to José Francisco Pacheco from the Bridge
School (Escola da Ponte) of Portugal:
…it is a serious mistake to think that a society of
individual, participatory, and democratic individuals
can be built, if the notion of schooling continues to
be conceived as a mere cognitive dressage…it is
urgent for us, as individuals, to directly engage with
Contact information:
Aieska Marinho Lacerda Silva
BioMA Institute President
local communities, to question their convictions
and, fraternally, to challenge the existing ones.
Email: [email protected]
[email protected]
For this project, the implementation of the Earth Charter
principles through an inter-disciplinary approach
constituted an ideal and cost-effective approach. We
think that the latter approach can be adopted by any
educator, in any discipline, in any school, in any country,
with relative ease. It is extremely accessible to students
of any demographic setting, and in both formal and
informal learning environments. The principles are easily
understood and have the power to modify behaviours
and make operational actions that promote sustainable
Ministry of Education, Republic of Tatarstan
Reorienting Tatarstan’s
educational system towards
education for sustainability
Ljubov V. Ovsienko 28
The Republic of Tatarstan29 is located about 700 km east of Moscow and is
one of the largest republics of the Russian Federation. It is a semiautonomous, multi-ethnic Republic with a population of four million
people, representing a diverse mix of three main cultural and religious
groups: Mongol/Asian from the east of Eurasia (10%), Muslim Tatars from
the south (50%) and Russian Orthodox Christians from the west (40%). A
similar cultural and religious mix led to war in Yugoslavia; however,
Tatarstan has chosen a different course focusing on the need to protect its
natural environment and create conditions that promote tolerance, social
justice and peace.
Dr. Sc. Lubov V. Ovsienko is the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Tatarstan is located in the centre of the Russian Federation on the East European plain. People of more than
70 different nationalities live there, the most numerous being Tatars and Russians.
In early 2001, the Parliament of Tatarstan embraced the
principles of respect and care for other human beings.
principles of sustainable development expressed in the
This includes compassion for those who have less and
Earth Charter and instructed governmental agencies to
for those who belong to different cultures and religions.
find practical applications for its principles in their work.
With some ethnic Russians practicing Islam, and some
The Republic of Tatarstan has implemented various
Tatars practicing Christianity, all the people of Tatarstan
programmes on ecological education and is presently
have a common interest in caring for the Earth and its
developing economic mechanisms for the management
living community, and in undertaking the common
of natural resources and the reconstruction of destroyed
quest towards the restoration of their devastated
“We should bear in mind that this is not just an
Kindergarten and preschools provide an opportunity to
ecological programme. It integrates economy,
begin the process of developing children’s attitudes and
politics, ecology, and education. It works for the sake
values of cultural tolerance and care for the community
of life. From the age of three to six years, children are
advancement in the living standards of our people.”30
the most open to being informed about nature, the
interconnectedness between all living beings, the
Within the framework of the existing project, Tatarstan:
basic principles of a sustainable way of life, and moral
and ethical behaviour. Preschool institutions in Tatarstan
Development and Tolerance, the Republic has launched
are focused on creating a special educational
a large-scale effort to implement an Earth Charter and
environment to enhance children’s capacity for
Culture of Peace Programme throughout its educational
development, and the development of age-specific
system. In accordance with the decisions of the
educational methodologies. A lot of attention is being
Parliament, the Ministry of Education and Science is
given to the creation of special green areas, flower
shifting its traditional discipline-oriented curriculum
gardens and vegetable strips, so-called ‘Alpine hillocks,’
towards a competency-based model, built around a
and to ecological pathways, where the youngest
number of themes and areas of learning. The Ministry
children can play, study and learn outside.
now sees its main task as educating the new generation
of Tatar citizens to be responsible and active citizens
Teachers use nature and its beauty to demonstrate the
wonder of nature’s richness, and to explain the
importance of protecting plants and animals, fertile soils,
resources and sustainable lifestyles, and creating a
pure sources of water, and clean air. Small children are
culture of peace and tolerance.
deeply moved by visual, aural, and oral interactive
activities presented in the form of plays, songs, poems
The Ministry considers the Earth Charter as an
and fairy- and folk-tales. For example, it is a common
appropriate ethical framework for educating the next
practice to use traditional Tatar and Russian proverbs,
generation of engaged citizens, who will live and work in
sayings, tales and songs as an unobtrusive way of
a context of rich cultural traditions and diverse religious
introducing important, and sometimes abstract,
backgrounds. Tatarstan is indeed fertile ground for three
concepts in a flexible and interactive manner.
key concepts embedded in the Earth Charter: respect for
Kindergarten and pre-school education
Combination of formal and
nonformal education for
sustainability in secondary schools
In consideration of its rich cultural and religious diversity,
Many educators often use the concept ‘education for
Tatarstan has developed a specific system of
sustainable development’ (ESD) in order to describe the
kindergarten and preschool education based on the
pedagogical activities of environmental education.
all life, respect for one another, and respect for the Earth.
M. Shaimiev, president of the Republic of Tatarstan in his Annual Address, 2007.
However, the former cannot be seen as a mere sum, or
participate in 553 ecological study groups. Students are
combination, of the goals of environmental protection
encouraged to become actively involved in the
and the improvement of the quality of human life.
preservation and improvement of their immediate
Environmental education has many approaches, which
surroundings, which in turn develops a sense of
include: education about the environment, focusing on
responsibility towards the environment. Through this
increasing levels of knowledge and awareness of the
process of learning, the Ministry aims to shape a new
environment; education in the environment, involving
generation of engaged citizens that will prevent
the developing of attitudes and skills through
environmental crises from deepening, protect nature
experiencing the natural environment; and, the more
and promote a more healthy society.
radical, education for the environment approach,
These scientific, action-based research programmes
in secondary schools focus on:
environment as socially determined (Downs, 1994 and
Tilbury, 1995).31
• The indepth study of nature
• The assessment of the ecological situation in the
The national system of secondary education in Tatarstan
students’ local habitat area, including the
is taking initial steps to integrate the Earth Charter
consequences of human impact on nature
principles into educational processes built around the
• The state of the population’s health, and the
interdisciplinary model – the interrelationship of formal
creation by students of indicators for ecological
curriculum and extracurricular activities, with the help of
elective studies and scientific and study groups of
In spite of these achievements, the lack of substantial
materials and methodologies on education for
The introduction of the subject ‘environmental studies’
sustainable development was felt acutely by the
into the secondary school curriculum may seem to be
Ministry, educational research institutions and school
an outdated activity given the advent of education for
teachers. This situation needed to be addressed.
sustainability. However, this has been a revolutionary
step for the education system of the Republic of
Tatarstan. The main goals of this new educational
initiative are to increase the presence of environmental
education within the formal curriculum in Tatar schools;
Methodology and curriculum
to improve it through the integration of environmental
Within the context of Tartarstan’s Parliamentary
issues across a number of disciplines; to enhance
Resolution to implement the Earth Charter principles,
teachers’ interest in democratic ideas and processes; to
the Ministry was given a special assignment to prepare
support teachers to use various environmental
and publish three textbooks on the Earth Charter, for
education methodologies; and to encourage teachers
primary-, middle- and high-school students. The content
and students to become actively involved in the
of the textbooks had to include issues relating to both
protection and conservation of the natural world.
natural and social sciences based on international
experience, and also include a special “Earth Charter
The Ministry of Education and Science takes pride in the
course” for teachers.
fact that almost 150 secondary schools in the republic
have included the subject ‘environmental studies’ in the
The Ministry developed a five-year action plan as a result
formal curriculum of their secondary and senior years.
of consultations with experts and secondary school
Today, more than 5,000 students attend elective studies
teachers to find better ways to integrate sustainable
in ecological research, economic development, and
development issues and the Earth Charter principles
social issues while approximately 9,000 students
into formal and non-formal education in the Republic.
Downs, E. “Education for Sustainability: is the whole more or less than the sum of the parts?”
Development Education Journal, Issue 2, December 5-8, 1994.
Tilbury, D. “Environmental education for sustainability: defining the new focus of environmental
education in 1990s.” Environmental Education Research, 1 (2):195-212. 1995.
This plan defines the development of the pedagogical
also offers innovative suggestions on extracurricular
curriculum and sets the direction for practical work, for
activities related to ESD.
teachers and students.
The toolkit offers teachers various lesson plan models
As of 1 September 2007 (the official start of the 2007-
for classroom use. The first recommended methodology
2008 school year in the Russian Federation and
is presented as an interdisciplinary study of a complex
Tatarstan), every public school in the republic was
problem covering different subjects. For example, as
provided with an Earth Charter toolkit: student textbooks
teachers present the problems of the modern economy,
and guidebooks for the teachers. This new set of
they motivate students to learn about existing
education materials was developed by several working
unsustainable methods of production and consumption.
groups of prominent scientists from the Republican
Students are also motivated to study ways to adopt
Research Institute for Educational Development.
behavioural patterns and choices that promote the
The Earth Charter toolkit
safeguarding Earth’s regenerative capacities, human
rights and community wellbeing.
Teacher’s guidebooks, tailored to different grades
and subject areas, were developed for three sets of
As students learn about social relations, they are
encouraged to know more about racial, ethnic and
religious conflicts, social injustice and ways to prevent
• primary school teachers
and address these issues. Several lessons are dedicated
• secondary school teachers of history and social
to Russia’s place in the global community, and the
• secondary school teachers of natural science
challenges and drawbacks of its transition from a
centralized to a market economy (using Pillars II and III
of the Earth Charter in the analysis, “Ecological Integrity”
The need to introduce primary school students (grades
and “Social and Economic Justice”). The combination of
1–7) to the basic principles of ecology, culture and
the national and regional components of the suggested
human relations is reflected in the methodological
methodology gives students the opportunity to become
recommendations for primary school teachers. In order
aware of interrelationship of the issues and problems
to ease the introduction of complex issues to small
facing local and global communities.
children, the guidebook shows how to effectively use
field trips, children's literature, folk- and fairy-tales, as
Authors also suggest that another methodological
well as interactive, solution-oriented tasks.
approach is to have students examine one of the
Charter sections, principles or sub-principles, reflect on
The full text of the Earth Charter is included in the
these, and then share their reflections with their friends,
guidebook for teachers of history and social sciences at
families, and community members.
secondary schools (grades 8–11). The methodology of
the application of the Earth Charter as a framework is
The Ministry has announced a series of demonstration
recommended for teaching the themes of General
lessons, based on the methodologies to integrate
History, History of the Russian Federation, and Social
sustainable development, the Earth Charter and the
new educational materials into daily teaching practices.
The demonstration lessons will be held simultaneously
The guidebook for teachers of natural science at
in all schools of the Republic. Some of these lessons will
secondary schools (grades 8–11) offers methodological
be open to media coverage.
materials and sample lesson plans for various subjects:
Math, Russian Language and Literature, the Arts (music,
drawing, and acting), English, and Political Science. It
provides many resources to support education for
sustainable development and the Earth Charter. Among
humankind and the preservation of nature. This is why
other materials, it offers the Russian version of the Earth
it’s important to boost students’ interest in learning and
Charter Guidebook for Teachers “Bringing Sustainability
getting more deeply involved in practical activities. A
into Classrooms” developed and published by the Earth
variety of ongoing, nation-wide initiatives promote this
Charter Initiative. The website also displays a variety of
sample lessons on sustainability, ethical values and
principles, and suggests an interdisciplinary approach as
Students’ participation in national contests such as My
the guiding methodology. It also serves as a discussion
Little Homeland, Nature’s Corner, and Nature’s Mirror,
forum and gives space to teachers to share their
encourage students to research natural, national,
educational experiences and scientific research in
historical and cultural heritages of Tatarstan and Russia,
education. The Ministry will also identify those key
and teach them to treat the community of life with
educational institutions that will serve as clearinghouses
compassion and care. The following are descriptions of
for new methodologies in teaching and learning for
two such contests.
My Little Homeland
In September and October 2007, the Ministry convened
In order to enhance students’ feeling of ownership
a series of seminars and roundtables for teacher trainers
and pride about their national history, traditions and
and in-service school teachers. In the context of this
culture, the ministry holds an annual national
training initiative, the Ministry announced a contest for
contest entitled “My Little Homeland.” This features
the best project on the vision of a ‘school of the future.’
three possible focus areas: “A little corner of great
Russia,” “History,” and “Our national traditions.”
Innovative approaches to
extracurricular (elective) education
Participating students get to know the historical
uniqueness of their own villages and towns; compile
biographies of their fellow-villagers who made a
Teachers are given the opportunity to independently
difference in the history of the town and nation;
design small-scale education projects focused on
study the culture and the genealogy of their family
developing students’ competences and skills in dealing
and clan as well as the culture and folklore of the
with environmental and social challenges. Within the
peoples that live in their region; and learn about
context of the generally-approved formal educational
their relationship with nature.
curriculum, these mini-projects provide curricular
opportunities to build on students’ initiative and ability to
The Young Shoot
become responsible citizens – in particular in a society
In the context of the international Earth Charter
undergoing a major transition to an open and democratic
Initiative, students participate in an annual contest
society. It is very important to provide teachers with a
entitled “The Young Shoot: Preservation of Nature
certain degree of independence in developing their own
and Care for Forests.” The focus areas are: “The
pedagogic approaches and methodologies, as this
ecology of the wildlife,” “The ecology of wild plants,”
enhances their sense of responsibility and confidence in
“Forestry,” and “Forest in Literature.” To participate in
curriculum development. The main requirement for
these contests, young forestry specialists must
teachers to participate in this initiative was the use of an
research complex environmental issues such as the
greenhouse effect, forest degradation, the formation
methodology. This has improved the cooperation and
and depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain,
connection between colleagues who teach different
overpopulation, and pollution, as well as possible
methods and means for solving these problems.
Although knowledge is a powerful tool, it doesn’t mean
Apart from the contests, there are many opportunities
anything unless it’s used for the improvement of
for student learning and action. There are more than
200 school-protected forest areas, where students
provide tangible assistance to forest wardens and
accomplishments described in this case is the unique
biologists – planting new trees, green belts, and picking
atmosphere of national and religious tolerance in the
wild medicinal herbs. Students organize contests,
republic; the culture of peace and cooperation; and love
quizzes, and discussions with the members of their
for nature. These are rooted in centuries-old traditions
communities; put on environmental plays; hold
that are carefully being preserved in modern-day
exhibitions; clean parks and gardens; plant new trees;
clean school territories and neighbouring communities;
take care of forest springs; hold conferences on
Learning and living the principles of the Earth Charter is
consumerism; and create, publish and distribute
a powerful way of introducing the message of
educational leaflets calling for more sustainable
sustainability. It also provides opportunities for those
who want to teach and learn about ethics and a broad
vision of a sustainable society. The formal education
system of Tatarstan leads the way in offering an
addressing the complexity of sustainability issues in
secondary education. This initiative demonstrates that
education can and should play a greater role in
developing students’ active citizenship, environmental
awareness, and sense of respect and responsibility,
which will support the political and socio-economic
transformation towards a more mature democracy.
Textbook The Earth Charter for secondary Schools
published by the Ministry of Education of Tatarstan.
Contact information:
Dr. Sc. Ljubov V. Ovsienko
The activities described above contribute to raising
Deputy Minister of Education
student awareness and involvement, inspiring young
and Science
people to live and act in harmony with the ethics and
principles of the Earth Charter. The engaged
Republic of Tatarstan
participation of the Tartarstan leadership – in the
Email: [email protected]
implementation of sustainable development values in
the formal education system – have contributed
considerably to the implementation of the new
educational initiative.
Conciencia Ecológica de Aguascalientes, México
Earth Charter Booklets for
Pre-School and Primary
School Children
Enriqueta Medellín and Gina Mireya Ventura32
and Betty McDermott 33
For many years NGOs and schools, with the support of specialists, have
made the effort to improve environmental education in Aguascalientes,
Mexico. In general, the work focused on providing information on environmental issues and on Aguascalientes’ ecosystems. This has undoubtedly
contributed to environmental awareness among the local society. This work
was carried out in classrooms and workshops in state Centres for
Environmental Education.
However, sharing information on the environment did not move citizens to
curb their region’s environmental deterioration. In light of this, and familiar
with the Earth Charter, Conciencia Ecológica de Aguascalientes (CEA) an
NGO, decided to share the Earth Charter in an aspiration to inspire and
encourage citizens to be active on environmental issues.
Conciencia Ecológica de Aguascalientes, Mexico
The Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
It is through the use of the Earth Charter that CEA
with a moving event where students presented the
introduced a group of teachers to the Earth Charter and
Earth Charter from their perspective and made personal
took on the task of disseminating it among teachers,
commitments to the principles.
parents, and college students. Gradually, the social
dimension of the Charter was incorporated into
Despite its many successes, teachers strongly felt that
environmental education efforts, offering a more holistic
introducing the Charter was a burden. Therefore, to
approach. However, the teachers noticed that the Earth
address the teachers’ needs, booklets were developed
Charter was perceived as a traditional part of the school
to facilitate the teachers’ implementation of the Earth
curriculum, it became ‘just another textbook.’
In response, in 2002 Escuela Secundaria General Nº 15
(No. 15 Secondary School) chose to implement a pilot
Description of the Earth Charter
booklets for children
project to sensitize students about the need for – and
the uses of – the Earth Charter. It was also decided that
The main objectives were:
principals, administration, students, and parents) would
• To contribute to the integral education of our
be involved in the project by engaging in the work and
students by participating in meaningful, creative,
reflecting on the principles and values this instrument
and practical experiences to help them develop
can provide.
skills with which to address intra- and
interpersonal challenges.
To complete this task, the school board appointed
Doctors in Education, Gina Ventura, Ana Lilia Paredes,
• For students to understand and engage with the
and Enriqueta Medellín to be in charge of the project.
Earth Charter’s vision of respect, love, and
They held workshops with teachers to identify how they
could apply the Earth Charter in the classroom. Parents
helped to better understand the significance of the Earth
Using this context and the framework of the
Charter in daily life. Students used the Internet to
2005–2014 Decade of Education for Sustainable
Development, four booklets were designed from pre-
Johannesburg), to learn about sustainability. In addition,
school through to sixth grade that highlighted the values
and principles of sustainability.
murals were painted, and stories and poetry were
written. At the end of the semester, the project closed
The booklets most outstanding features are:
a) They encourage the development of students’
competence, abilities, skills, and values towards
sustainability, as well as individual cognitive and
practical development, such as: abstraction,
spatial situation, and creativity.
b) They can be applied to a range of educational
c) They were designed as self-teaching instruments
for children, from the second grade onwards.
d) Their can be easily incorporated into regular
teaching schedules.
e) The lessons are derived from the Mexican
Pilot project with second grade students.
version of the Earth Charter for children.34
In Mexico, several teachers identified the need to develop a children’s version of the Earth
Charter. They proceeded to design it based on the official international text of the Earth Charter;
it was later published by SEMARNAT (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources).
f) The material contains a chart for teachers, which
g) Each booklet contains a series of activities for
gives clear examples for applying principles of
students to help them learn about and uphold
the Earth Charter to different subject areas.
each principle of the Earth Charter.
A sample exercise from the Earth Charter booklets:
The Earth Charter for Children
1. Respect and protect people, animals and plants.
a. Always respect the way of life of people, animals and plants, even though they may appear to
be strange or different to you.
b. Provide plants and animals with care and protection.
c. Fight against the indiscriminate killing of animals.
d. Help protect endangered plants and animals, and never capture or purchase any of these species.
Look closely at the drawings on the left column and draw a line connecting each with one in the right
column which represents what we should do in order to live and respect Principle 1 of the Earth Charter.
A boy with a sling-shot killing a bird.
A girl bending a small planted tree.
A person smoking in a place where ther are
Some children and thir mother buying a
Implementation and testing
Two boys tying a stick to the trunk of the
small tree for support and then watering the
Some children tell the smoker that the smoke
is harmful to them (they cough) and to
pleasesmoke outside.
Another boy prevents the one with the slingshot from throwing stones at the birds.
The children tell their mother not to buy
Aguascalientes distributed the booklets among the
The booklets were created and implemented in two
phases of the pilot project. During the first phase in
The second phase of the pilot project is being
October 2006, the first edition of the booklets (200
carried out in six schools in a range of urban, sub-
for each grade) were printed with support from the
urban, and rural settings. With the application of the
Town Council of Aguascalientes. At this time the
pilot project and tests of the materials, valuable
Institute for Education of Aguascalientes (IEA)
educational information will be gained and used to
trained teachers, from pre-school and primary
enrich them, ensuring that the materials are relevant
classes of CEPIA, an urban, middle-class school, and
and pertinent, and also significant to the students
tested and adjusted the materials to most effectively
attending the IEA. The given questionnaires have
incorporate the Earth Charter’s principles with the
been answered and processed. Next, a group of
school system. In May 2007, the mayor of
consultants will follow-up on the pilot test.
Methodological aspects for
the pilot tests of the booklets
The sample of schools will include six schools (three
grade schools and three pre-schools): four schools
adapt the booklets to their needs, taking into account
the following methodological considerations:
1. Working with each of the Earth Charter principles
allows the development of capabilities in
different educational areas; prioritizing which
served by the Institute of Education of Aguascalientes
one(s) to focus on depends on the purpose of
and two private schools. Approximately 600 students
the educational experience. The primary goal is
from rural, urban and sub-urban areas will be involved,
that children enjoy the experience and put the
as well as 3 consultants (one for every two schools), 12
principles into practice in their daily life.
teachers (three for pre-school, three for 1 and 2
2. The Earth Charter principles do not have a pre-
grades; three for 3rd and 4th grades, and three for 5th and
established sequence. They can be explored
6th grades), and three external editors. The educational
randomly, according to children’s interests and
staff involved will participate as following:
the real problems that exist in the classroom
and/or in their social and natural environment.
3. It is important to consider that children need
Teachers will be participating in the training
creative and reflexive activities in order to learn,
workshops on how to incorporate the Earth Charter
develop their imagination, and enjoy and resolve
in education. This will also include clarifying the
problems that are important to them; for this
reason, the activities presented in the booklets
suggestions, and sharing their findings with the
are ideas which require children’s inputs to
develop the principle and make it resonate.
Pre-school Coordinators, staff from the IEA, and staff
from the Secretariat for Human Development in the
Municipality of Aguascalientes (who attended the
Earth Charter workshop) will support in various
4. The proposed activities should not be carried out
in an isolated manner; they should be part of a
plan that seeks the development of the selected
5. That children should learn to respect human
beings, animals, and plants; to recognise and
value the traditions and customs in their
External Editors
The external editors will review the booklets, offering
comments for their enrichment and improvement.
These comments are expected to be included at the
end of the year.
communities; and to resolve problems in a
peaceful way, through interaction with nature
and with people from different social and
cultural environments.
6. Allowing a child to come up with alternatives for
problem-solving and to put into practice his/her
hypothesis, gives him/her the opportunity to
The activities in the workbook are designed to help
amass more solid knowledge, which can
children understand, experience and be an inherent
become an integral part of his/her personal
part of the ten principles of the Earth Charter (as
configured in the children’s Mexican version).
7. It is important to tell children there are certain
Working in the classroom with the Earth Charter
problems to which we do not have answers; by
does not require teachers to change the school
offering alternatives less harmful to people and
schedule because several educational areas of the
the environment, we can adopt a positive
curricula bear a close resemblance to the Earth
attitude and work for improvements within our
Charter’s principles. Teachers are encouraged to
own abilities.
8. Alarmist terms should not be used, as they serve
9. Follow-up and debrief with children after all
to make children adopt a pessimistic attitude; we
activities in order to check for significant changes in
must try to seek solutions and alternatives with
their attitudes. Some children will show an initial
the firm conviction that any contribution will
positive response that fades with time, it may be
make a big difference.
necessary to encourage them on a daily basis.
Chart of suggestions on how to use the booklets in the different
subjects and programme content
That the students may acquire
knowledge, capabilities, attitudes and
values reflecting a responsible interaction
with their natural surroundings, and
understand the operation and
transformations of the human body and
the development of habits for the
preservation of their health and wellbeing.
Living things.
- Plants and animals
Living things.
- Care and protection of all living
things around us: plants, animals, and
human beings.
That the students may practice
describing sites and landscapes, and
begin making symbolic representations
of the physical spaces of which they are
most familiar.
Town and country.
- Town and country environmental
Life in the neighbourhood.
- Activities which are harmful to the
environment in the neighbourhood,
and ways to prevent them.
This discipline has a special educative
value. Nevertheless, it also works as a
contributing factor to acquire personal
ethical principles and values for social
Before and after in personal history.
That the students may develop attitudes
and values which provide him/her with
strong foundations to become a citizen
aware of his/her rights, the rights of
others, and one who is responsible,
free, cooperative and tolerant. The goal
is to develop Mexican citizens to be
respectful of the cultural diversity, and
capable of analysing and understanding
the actions and numerous expressions
of the human mind.
Time in the personal and family
- Changes in customs and daily
activities of the family during the
course of time.
That the students may obtain basic
knowledge in mathematics and
- Spatial imagination
- Abstract thinking through various
forms of reasoning, among others,
processing and generalizing
procedures and strategies.
Handling the information.
- How to approach and resolve simple
problems in which you wish to gather
and record information on a regular
That the students may gain the attitudes
and values which will provide him/her
with strong foundations to become a
citizen aware of his/her rights, the rights
of others, and one who is responsible,
free, cooperative and tolerant. The goal
is to develop Mexican citizens to be
respectful of the cultural diversity, and
capable of analysing and understanding
the actions and numerous expressions
of the human mind.
Equal rights of Mexicans.
That the students learn to seek
information, and to value, process and
use it both in and out of school, and
engage in independent learning
Literary recreation.
Situations in communications.
- Writing.
That the students may develop a taste
for artistic expression and the ability to
appreciate and distinguish various forms
and resources.
To stimulate sensitivity and perception
through involvement in activities in
which he/she may discover, explore
and experiment with expression in
materials, movement and sound.
To develop creativity and the capability
of personal expression.
Art appreciation and expression.
- Handling symmetry.
Lessons learned
Handling the information.
- Gathering and recording data
stemming from observation.
The wealth of the country.
The rights of Mexicans.
Art appreciation and expression.
- Making banners.
twice as much time as we estimated. This significantly
delayed our work.
One serious challenge we have is trying to adapt our
The task of incorporating the values for sustainability into
schedule to that of the public administration and
the teaching practice must be linked to the students’
services. For example, printing the booklets required
daily reality, so that they will value its application in their
lives. When we tried to work on the Earth Charter
to study these values and principles in class on a daily
without this component, we realized that we were
basis. This is, by far, the biggest challenge. But if the
unable to convince students to make changes in their
materials are well designed and the teachers are well
daily behaviour.
trained, then the objectives can be achieved.
There is no doubt that this endeavour has greatly
contributed to our outlook and ability to address
environmental concerns. However, if we can’t appeal to
people’s conscience, we will never achieve the changes
we strive for. It is not enough to promote the values for
sustainability and the principles of the Earth Charter with
Contact information:
rhetoric only. It is essential to find the right mechanisms
María Enriqueta Medellín
Legorreta and Gina Mireya
Ventura Ramírez
Conciencia Ecológica de
Aguascalientes, México
Email: [email protected]
Wondai State School P-10, Australia
Learning to see the big picture
with the Earth Charter!
Sue Gibson35
Wondai is a small rural town situated in the South Burnett region of
Queensland, Australia. We live within the Burnett Catchment 36 in an
agricultural area that grows a wide variety of crops throughout the year.
Wondai’s timber industry is as old as the town itself, and the local sawmill
is one of the biggest employers. Water is a critically important resource for
our community, and we are currently feeling the strain of an ongoing
drought and its negative effects on the local economy.
Our school is situated in a spacious setting in the south-eastern corner of
town with forests on two sides and the town’s show grounds on another.
The school motto is “Deeds not Words.” It caters to 270 students from prep
(6 years old) to 10 th grade (15 years old) that allows for sharing and
learning across grades. Wondai State School P-10 has a sustainability ethos,
and is part of the Reef Guardians programme, the Green and Healthy
Schools programme, and the Sustainable Living Challenge.
Wondai State School P-10, Queensland, Australia
A catchment, or basin, is an area of land within which water eventually runs to one point.
Teaching about sustainability
• Be kind to each other, animals and plants (Respect
The process of incorporating sustainability into our
curriculum began in 2004 when the Curriculum
Implementation Committee recognized the potential of
and care for the community of life)
• Take good care of the environment (Ecological
student-directed, action-oriented learning as a means of
• We are all equal (Social and economic justice)
engaging students in real-life learning. This decision was
• Say ‘yes’ to peace and ‘no’ to violence
influenced on the success of a 9th grade trial science
(Democracy, non-violence and peace)
unit in 2003 that used an action-research model to
investigate the issue of our local water’s increasing
The implications for a school community, if all members
salinity level. This unit was so successful in engaging
upheld these four simple principles, are both exciting
learners, we decided to develop a secondary elective
and challenging. We think that the understanding of, and
subject, called Action Science, based on the model. This
adherence to, these principles could significantly
commenced in 2004 and ran in the first semester of
increase the potential for engaging students in real-life
each year until 2007, when we decided to offer Action
learning and improving student outcomes.
Science throughout the school year. Students investigate
local environmental issues and formulate action plans
aimed at making a positive difference in the community.
From this simple start, increasing our students’
awareness of local environmental issues became a
focus for the school; our sustainability journey had
The next significant stage in our journey was having a
teacher and two of our students attend the Earth
Dialogues International Conference in Brisbane in July
2006 as part of the Education Queensland Student
Delegation. This involvement fuelled our recognition
that, although what we were doing in our own little
Learning about our place in the world.
corner of the world was very valid and important; we
were missing the big picture! To be educating young
people about truly sustainable living we also needed to
be tackling issues of poverty, peace and politics, on a
global scale.
The decision to implement the Earth Charter’s four basic
principles was straightforward because they mesh well
In order to expand our approach to teaching about
with our existing school vision “Grow Together –
sustainability to include social, economic, and political
Produce the Best,” which is supported by our school
issues, as well as incorporating a global focus, we
values: Respect, Academia, Participation and Pride
decided to use the Earth Charter as the underlying
(RAPP). We have a whole-school approach to
philosophy of our curriculum decision-making and to
supporting the positive mental health of our children,
underpin our unit planning. After discussing these ideas
and this has led to the primary school’s involvement as
with our principal, and with other teachers at a staff
one of fifty schools in the National trial for Kidsmatter
meeting, we decided to use a simplified version of the
(an effort lead by the Australian Principals’ Association,
Earth Charter (from a Dutch children’s poster) that
Federal Government, Beyond Blue and the Australian
outlines the four pillars of the Earth Charter as
Psychologists Association).
Through Kidsmatter we have endorsed “Programme
which encompasses the curriculum, the management
Achieve/You can do it” as a major focus for the
of our school grounds, our environment and resources.
development of positive social and emotional learning
We have found this method of planning for the year
for our primary students. This programme focuses on
positive and beneficial. It provides an overall picture of
where the school should be heading, and acts as a
Organization, Getting Along, and Resilience. Our
tracking tool throughout the year to see how well we are
secondary school’s skill-building programme focuses on
achieving the targets we have set.
Goals, Relationships, Attitudes and Beliefs (GRAB), and
we ensure that the key concepts from the primary
In some units, the Earth Charter itself is a major theme,
grades are extended through secondary. We believe that
and in others it is an underlying thread. An example of
this approach to developing the skills our children need
the former is our second term of 8th grade GRAB unit (1
to be confident and capable members of society
x 70 minute lesson per week for 10 weeks). This unit
matches perfectly with our RAPP and the Earth Charter
explored the theme of ‘interconnectedness’ and how it
linked to the Earth Charter.
This unit investigated
three authentic learning questions:
Our Earth Charter methodology is simple:
1. How will a more sustainable world help me?
• Embed the Earth Charter principles in unit
planning and school decision-making
• Refer to the Earth Charter whenever possible in
daily classrooom life
• Act as role models, and persevere, persevere,
2. How can we use the resources in our
environment and maintain biodiversity?
3. How can our water resources be used more
Students began this unit by investigating how children
The first step in the process was putting teachers into
live in other parts of the world by getting on the Internet
planning teams to map out how the Earth Charter could
and researching issues through online resources. Their
be used as an underpinning philosophy for current and
findings culminated in the creation of a PowerPoint
future units of work. Teachers examined available Earth
presentation about the Earth Charter, sustainability, and
Charter resources (DVD, posters, web resources) and
ways to build a sustainable world.
were each given an Earth Charter poster to put up in
their classrooms. The result of this day was the
During this unit, students also brainstormed actions they
development of our 2007 Sustainability Action Plan,
could take as a class to ‘live out’ the values and
principles they were learning about in class. These
actions include organizing a “walk to school” day to
combat greenhouse gas emissions, making and
displaying banners and posters, adding an Earth Charter
stall at the school fete, having a “multicultural cooking
day,” and organizing Earth Charter wristbands for staff,
students and the community to wear. While some of
these actions have yet to be organized, the most
rewarding aspect of this unit has been seeing the
students so enthusiastically engaged in discussions and
decision-making, rather than sitting back as passive
learners. In addition to creating a list of action ideas, the
students have written an Earth Charter song for the
Learning about the diversity of life.
school (see below).
unit is designed so that the learning approach is student-
Box 2: Wondai State School
Earth Charter Song
centred, within an active, real-life scenario – being
wildlife rangers and designing habitats – rather than
simply being taught about threatened species. The unit
This is our future, this is our home
is also based on the Earth Charter principles within the
We need to care for
bigger picture; respecting those with whom we share
This great biome
this Earth and living in a way that doesn’t negatively
Respect each other, our planet too
impact their wellbeing and our environment.
Enough for us, enough for you.
Another example of students learning in an active, realChorus
life scenario occurs in our 5th grade class. They have
This is the Earth Charter of Wondai School
been conducting an electricity audit of our school and
It’s how we want to live and it’s pretty cool
are developing a plan to reduce our energy
We have enough for us, plenty more to share
consumption. Students have been actively investigating
We want the whole wide world to know we care.
the numbers and types of school appliances and the
impact their use has on our resource management.
This is our vision, a sky of blue
They have also produced wonderful clay animations to
Clean air to breathe, for us for you
promote sustainable energy use.
Healthy forests, water that’s clean
Sparkling oceans, paddocks of green
Our emphasis is on learning for sustainability and not
learning about sustainability, with a focus on students
developing knowledge and skills for life-long learning
Care for each other, respect all life
and taking action. The teacher is a facilitator of learning
We want world peace, not war and strife
rather than simply a teacher of content. The students’
No threatened species, habitats for all
activities and assignments are developed to encompass
We need to plant trees, not make them fall
the global picture, as well as to have a local impact.
In so doing, students consider the following
We are all equal, we all have needs
Care for our Earth, we’ll take the lead
Respect our planet, each other too
Enough for us, enough for you
• Why are we concerned about our school energy
• How does our energy use affect us locally?
• What does our Earth Charter say?
• How will reducing our energy use here help our
Units with the Earth Charter as an underlying thread
occur across disciplines and grade levels. Our 6th grade
class takes a unit entitled “Threatened Species” in which
Earth and others living elsewhere?
• How can we teach others about sustainable
energy use?
they take on the role of wildlife rangers. They investigate
threatened species with the ‘job assignment’ of
Action Science is a lead Middle Phase of Learning
designing sustainable habitats for these species, and
strategy at Wondai P10 State School and is one of our
then they must present their findings to an audience.
curriculum success stories. It is an environmental
Students have completed research reports on their
science elective that investigates local issues using the
species and built models of the habitats they have
action-research model. This is being achieved through
designed. They are also organizing a “Threatened
the delivery of a practical, real-life learning model for
Species Day,” to be held at the school in the fall. This
format allows students to choose to join a work team
based on their interests and skills, which helps ensure
inclusiveness and maximum participation of all students,
regardless of their academic or behavioural history. In
2006, for example, students brainstormed topics and
then formed four teams – Stormwater, Litter, Water Use
and Energy – to address the issue of resource
management within our school. Examples of activities
carried out by the Stormwater team include:
• Liaising with the school groundsman to map out
the stormwater drains within the school and to
take photos to be used in a display
Tree planting day.
• Cleaning school drains which were full of leaf
Our approach embraces our young people’s initial
litter from the building gutters
abstract thinking about global issues by linking them
• Designing and painting “Clean Seas for Me” signs
directly to everyday local environmental problems.
next to the stormwater drains to emphasize the
Action Science has indeed always been underpinned by
school’s Reef Guardian status and to encourage
the principles of the Earth Charter, even though we
students not to litter
didn’t formally recognize this. Our implementation of
the Earth Charter into our school curriculum has added
another positive dimension to Action Science; students
are able to see the importance of their local work more
clearly in terms of its global impact. It reinforces the idea
• Liaising with school principal and Head of
Department for the painting of signs
• Writing Thank You letters to the Wondai Shire
Council for assisting with guest speakers
• Writing and publishing an action plan
that we all have a role in creating a sustainable future
and that each positive action contributes to the
wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants.
paper usage as the area of investigation. Students put a
The key features of Action Science are the
development of:
scrap paper box in every classroom, collected the paper
once a week, and weighed it to see how much each
class had collected. The paper was then sorted into two
• Enterprising, life-long learners, who regularly and
actively participate in our local catchment issues
and therefore the global environment
• Learners
In 2007, Action Science targeted the school’s scrap
sustainability issues through the adoption of
the Action Research model
• Partnerships with local landholders, private
businesses, government departments (including
Department of Natural Resources, Kingaroy),
piles: paper used on both sides, and paper used on one
side. Then the scrap paper was re-used to create useful
products such as notepads. Some scrap paper and
newspaper were used to make carry bags that students
hope to sell. Students also asked students in other
classes to consider reducing the amount of paper they
used. One Action Science student’s comment perhaps
says it best, and supports the curriculum model of
student-centred action learning:
Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG), and the
Burnett branch of the Queensland Rural
We believe our project is important because it
Women’s Network
reduced the amount of waste going into landfill and
it increased awareness about the amount of paper
The Action Science elective is available to all students
waste in the school.
It was great to recycle the
from grades 8-10 (13-15 years old). The programme
paper into something that could be used again.
Lessons learned
So far, we have not experienced major problems with
our efforts to integrate the sustainability principles of the
Earth Charter into our school life. The staff of Wondai
State School embraced the four Earth Charter principles
as very positive and important values for students to
develop in their own lives.
From the beginning, it was stressed to staff that the idea
wasn’t to work harder and change everything we were
already doing. Instead, it was to look for opportunities to
incorporate the Earth Charter into the great work already
being done in classrooms throughout the school and to
use it as an underpinning philosophy for future planning.
New Earth Charter and sustainability initiatives are
discussed with our administration team first, and then
with teachers, to ascertain whether there is enough
support from the staff to ensure the initiative’s success.
Positive support from the school community as a whole
is vital to moving forward on our sustainability journey.
Because we have taken a multi-faceted approach
students regularly encounter the principles in their daily
activities. We also try to reach beyond class and into the
community through newsletter articles, notice board
signs, and through our school choir. The choir, for
example, will be performing a number of environmental
songs by recording artist Rosie Emery (co-producer of
“The Little Earth Charter” )37 at our upcoming school fete.
Our biggest challenge is exploring how to write the Earth
students who do not engage with the curriculum in
other areas.
Will we experience spectacular results in the short term
from this initiative? We doubt it. However, we consider
our sustainability efforts a great work in progress. Every
time a student bounces up on the playground and says
“I put all my rubbish in the bin,” or “I turned off a tap
that was left running,” or “We are recycling our washing
machine water at home,” we know we are on the right
track and making progress.
Our youngest students are among our most enthusiastic
sustainability ambassadors, and as they move through
school grades we believe we will achieve greater
outcomes. We still struggle with typical school issues,
such as litter, but there are students working to
environmental action groups which operate on school
grounds during students’ own free time.
Our vision is that in years to come our entire school
community will be operating in a way that respects
those with whom we share this Earth, and doesn't
impact negatively on their wellbeing and our
environment. We hope that we will be producing zero
waste by reducing, recycling and reusing, and that the
school will be powered by renewable energy. “One
hand can make a difference, and many hands can
change the world;” we believe we are in the business of
teaching many little hands that will make a world of
Charter into our school plan, which is currently being
reviewed. We are particularly interested in using studentcentred action-oriented learning approaches to engage
learners in the curriculum, as well as to provide
improved student outcomes that can be assessed and
Contact information:
provide staff with concrete data. For example, we
believe that there will be a positive correlation between
Sue Gibson
increased engagement and improved behaviour
Wondai State School P–10
outcomes in some students. We’ve found that by
encouraging students to develop plans and carry out
activities that use the skills they have to offer, the
engagement level is extremely high, particularly with
For more information go to:
Email: [email protected]
Little Animation, Canada
Playing and Learning about Sustainability:
Kids, online media, and the
Little Earth Charter
JC Little 38 and Alicia Jiménez 39
From 1 to 8, The Little Earth Charter
Earth and Rosie will take you there...
TWO is everything is interconnected,
for INTERCONNECTED respect and care.
Everyone is different, we all have a place.
The earth is connected to the whole human race…
You know me, Planet Earth!
Life on me comes in so many forms, it’s a rich variety of living beings.
They are a big part of my vitality and my beauty!
And absolutely every one of them is interconnected and connected to you!
Selected lyrics from the animated song, “2 is Interconnected!”
Little Animation Inc., Canada
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development, Costa Rica
The Little Earth Charter (LEC) is a media education
the curriculum. Its content relates directly to learning
experience for children and teachers that promotes the
standards and outcomes for students in pre-school to
implementation and endorsement of Earth Charter
third grade: earth science, physical science, life science,
values and principles through online animation, songs,
ecology, environmental studies, geography, history,
games, storytelling and sharing, with educational and
social studies, citizenship education, and values
curricular resources for parents and teachers. The LEC
offers a modified version of the Earth Charter for
children four to eight years old. The eight principles
The LEC has distilled and simplified the sixteen
outlined in the LEC are: Life, Interconnected, Family,
principles of the Earth Charter into eight principles for
Past, Earth, Peace, Love and Future. The content is
children. The principles are: Life, Interconnected, Family,
focused on ethical and environmental values – with a
Past, Earth, Peace, Love, and Future. The plan for the full
strong message of hope – and can be accessed by
development of the LEC programme is to have each
principle illustrated by a four-minute animated segment
with music. Each segment will have three parts:
The LEC was created by Little Animation, Inc. (Little
Animation), a Canadian company founded by director
(1) An audio-visual presentation of the principle
and producer JC Little, with the support of Canadian
and its meaning
musical artist, Rosie Emery. The company is committed
(2) An animated musical sequence set to the
to educating children to work towards a sustainable
corresponding principle/verse in the song “The
future and their mandate is to provide meaningful,
Little Earth Charter” (which includes a 17-
original audio-visual content for children in a variety of
second ‘speech’ about the principle by the
media. Little Animation has developed a programme to
fulfill this mandate, entitled “Earth to Rosie!” in which
animated character, Planet Earth)
(3) An audience participation pledge to respect
the LEC and its eight principles are a significant part.
and care for the principle
Little Animation shares the Earth Charter mission, “…to
establish a sound ethical foundation for the emerging
A teacher’s module will provide a detailed explanation of
global society” and believes The Little Earth Charter can
each principle, accompanied by a complimentary
help establish that sound ethical foundation in young
classroom activity that demonstrates how to actively
apply the principle. This component will be available on
the website for free, and may accompany the animation
The purpose of the Little Earth Charter is to help parents
and teachers convey the Earth Charter’s universally
comprehensive material Little Animation intends to
shared principles to children at an early age, with a view
make the LEC a common point of reference for young,
to becoming responsible earth stewards shaping a
early school-aged children throughout Canada, and
sustainable future. The LEC seeks to reach as many
children as possible – all around the globe – which is
why they have translated the original English-version of
The project has completed its early development phase,
the Little Earth Charter into Spanish, Catalan, French,
having produced a pilot version of a four-minute audio-
Portuguese, Dutch and Russian.
visual animation segment entitled "2 is Interconnected!”
The Little Earth Charter as
educational tool and plans for
further development
Interconnected. This segment can be viewed online at
the LEC’s website.40 Little Animation is seeking to secure
funding to produce the other seven segments, one for
each of the LEC’s remaining principles. The final product
The Little Earth Charter offers educators a ‘springboard’
tool to introduce students to a variety of subjects within
will be made available to educators via DVD.
Although the animation part of the programme is as yet
have used it successfully in their classes, particularly in
not completed, the text-based programme of the Little
Europe. Teachers may be using the LEC in their English
Earth Charter has extended its roots. It is being used in
language classes, where the English-as-a-second-
many classrooms around the world, including in
language appeal is as important a factor as the LEC itself.
Canada, the US, Portugal, Russia, Belgium, and Australia.
Some teachers report using the LEC intensively during
In fact, the Little Earth Charter website programme
class time – talking about the principles, expanding on
reached over 16,000 visitors from 81 countries in 2006.
learning through the enriched play activities, and taking
the endorsement pledge – and others report on
reflecting briefly on the principles in class within the
Methodological aspects
Using the Little Earth Charter in class
The LEC was designed to integrate effortlessly into a
context of other lessons.
Educational activities included in the
Little Earth Charter programme
teacher’s workload. Moreover, it was specifically created
using Multiple Intelligence learning styles to help assist
The LEC’s activities utilize Multiple Intelligence theory’s
teachers in addressing their students’ varying needs and
learning techniques. According to LEC creator JC Little:
backgrounds – learning styles, cultural differences,
emotional dispositions and socio-economic situations.
Multiple Intelligence techniques have evolved out of
the understanding that humans learn and excel in a
One interesting characteristic of the LEC – making it
variety of ways. Therefore it’s beneficial to recognize
attractive for school staff, administrators, as well as
and support children in each of these capacities. The
teachers – is that the principles touch on every aspect
various types of intelligence are described as
of human life, at every level. In addition to fitting certain
‘smarts’ – picture smart, word smart, body smart,
principles into the curriculum of social studies and earth
self smart, music smart, number smart, artistic smart
sciences, for example, it can be used to deal with many
and nature smart. The Little Earth Charter addresses
school-related problems such as bullying. The principles
many of these types of intelligence by providing
can be applied to teaching children about how to
visual, aural, manual, narrative, personal and
resolve conflict nonviolently, how to work together, and
linguistic components to deliver its message.
how to care for their bodies by eating a healthy diet.
The following are examples of dynamic, ‘smarts’Although the LEC is targeted for children four to eight
based LEC programme components and activities
years old, teachers of students as old as thirteen years
used to assist teachers and encourage children to
embrace the principles:
The Pledge
The pledge is an interactive component designed to
get children physically involved in the commitment
to each principle. After learning about the principle,
they are invited to ‘act out’ their commitment by
standing up, putting their hand over their heart, and
saying the pledge out loud. During trial workshops,
children have been eager to participate in the
pledge whether they are invited to do so directly by
their teacher, or through the animated characters in
the video.
Students carryng out the pledge activity.
audience, using the animation to support the
Animation is a powerful tool for educators because
commentary. The two characters, Planet Earth and
it captures children’s attention. The two main
Little Rosie, nod and shake their heads as if
animated characters, Planet Earth and Little Rosie,
interacting in the conversation, and children have
were created to appeals to children on an emotional
responded with a high level of empathy and
level. “Planet Earth” was created to humanize the
enthusiasm – clapping, cheering, shouting, pointing
earth, give it the expressive attributes of a person,
and laughing. The slide show is approximately
and thereby engage children in caring for it as a
fifteen minutes long and focuses on the Earth and
living entity.
Little Rosie represents the natural
our dependence on its resources. This leads
curiosity and empowerment of all children.
naturally to the topic of helping the Earth, and
Together, these two characters create the structure
towards the LEC principles. At the end of the
of the “Earth to Rosie!” element of the programme.
presentation, teachers can engage in enriched play
Many teachers have requested the remaining
activities, and/or watch audio-video segments of
animation clips once they are completed, having
any/all of the principles (once they are produced)
seen and/or used the “2 is Interconnected!” clip and
and encourage students to take the pledge. The
other animated features on the website.
animated slideshow was shown in two different
situations, a presentation to a large gathering of 400
children (4–12 years old) and to a small group of
Children respond very positively to the LEC song.
25 students (6–8 years old). It was equally effective
The chorus is a useful learning-through-repetition
in each case, getting the children to engage with the
feature and kids are able to sing along with the
subject matter. The slideshow is considered to have
chorus even during the first time they hear the song.
great potential helping teachers, and engaging
The LEC uses music specifically to convey its
students, and the company is considering how to
message, with the assistance of Rosie Emery, a long-
distribute it more widely.
time educator of school-aged children. She has a
long record of expertise and experience in using the
universal and fundamental appeal of music and
songs in education.
Enriched Play
Results, partnerships and the role
of sustainability in the
Little Earth Charter
The Little Animation team promotes interaction with end
The LEC curriculum offers a variety of activities as
users via e-mail, telephone, in person interviews,
‘enriched play’ as practical ways to
enrich and
website feedback forms and letters of concern or
consolidate students’ learning by celebrating the
support. They use the information to compile ideas for
principle and applying it in everyday life. The
suggested activities include individual and group
programme, and to confirm where the LEC teaching
projects. For example, students can engage in photo
modules have been successful. They have received
projects, putting on an historical play, planting a
valuable feedback and stories about achievements from
garden, making peace cards, doing acts of kindness,
teachers, including one educator who showed the “2 is
and raising awareness and funds for endangered
Interconnected!” clip to her class. Directly after the video
species or children in need.
the whole class went outside to dig the compost in the
school garden – and had a fun, physical experience of
LEC animated slideshow
the principle by examining the worms and small
A slideshow was developed and tested to help
creatures in the soil on which everyone depends for
educators introduce the LEC to children. It employs
healthy food crops. At Our Lady of the Rosary P-7
an interactive ‘call and answer’ technique with the
School, in Kenmore, Queensland, Australia children and
teachers are also using the LEC. They have uploaded an
The Working Together project facilitators are currently
art show on their website41 with students’ drawings
focusing on the principle, “Future,” for which the
based on the principles of the Little Earth Charter.
suggested LEC activity is to organize a fundraiser for a
good cause. The De Kriebel School in Olen, Belgium has
“Working Together,” is an online project, coordinated by
put this principle into action by supporting a little boy
São Monteiro Silva at the Schools of Cacia, in Portugal.
named Isuru in Sri Lanka, through an organization called
It uses the LEC in its work to facilitate the sharing of
Plan Netherlands. With the help of their teacher, Jef
students’ stories, photos, and reports to and from
Theys, the students at De Kriebel are creating innovative
different schools in Portugal, Belgium, Russia, Japan, and
activities to raise money to help Isuru and his village.
Brazil. Throughout the school year, students focus on
One of their fundraisers was a “Used Toy Sale” at the
learning about and taking action on each of the LEC’s
school, an interesting example of both the Little Earth
principles. Each week, students upload their stories,
Charter principle of “Future” in action as well as practice
photos, and reports on the website and can share and
good recycling habits.
learn from other students’ contributions and see what’s
happening in other countries. One outstanding example
was a group of students who planted a garden to
dissemination and use of the LEC, Little Animation is
support the principle of “Earth,” and tended it to yield
also putting the principle of sustainability into action
vegetables that were cooked into delicious meals
through their direct support. In line with their
shared by teachers and students alike.
commitment to a sustainable future, the company has
invested its financial resources into social enterprise
During Earth Day 2007, the Schools of Cacia organized
projects that give back to the community. Little
a Little Earth Charter/Earth Charter school presentation
Animation intends to divert up to 50% of their profits
at the City Hall of Aveiro, Portugal. A wide variety of
from the programme towards organizations that support
school and community people attended the event,
children’s education.
including students and teachers from other schools,
parents, the heads of education and environmental
Lessons learned
departments for the City of Aveiro, the Association of
Environmental Education, and the Portuguese Ministry
of Education. The students exhibited their LEC art work
Although the LEC is in the early stages of its
and photographs of their LEC activities during the past
development, the production team has observed that
year and performed the song “2 is Interconnected!”
children exposed to the programme can recall the Little
Earth Charter name and content; it’s hoped that this
name recognition and basic understanding education of
the principles will pave the way for the students
continuing to embrace the principles and take what
they’ve learned forward into their secondary education
Several activities have proven to be especially helpful in
addressing sustainability and to make the programme
more attractive to students, including:
• Inviting guest speakers from different fields (e.g.
farming, energy, transportation, culture, diversity,
Students of De Kriebel school, olen, belgium.
• Encouraging students to get involved with online
projects with students in other countries
The LEC team believes that it is important to present the
values and principles of the Earth Charter and for
• Proposing projects that involve performances
sustainability to children at their earliest stages of
and public presentations, which allow students
learning – to help them grow up understanding these
to be recognized for having achieved something
values and thereby bringing about changes in our
important and positive in their community – as
societies. According to JC and Rosie, the more society
did one remarkable teacher and his students in
emerges with an integrated awareness of these values,
Portugal at their City Hall
the more likely humanity will be able to make choices
for sustainability and peacefulness.
The LEC provides a simple but effective framework for
educators to teach about the Earth Charter principles as
well as to educate for sustainability. “We kept it simple
on purpose,“ relayed JC Little, “so it doesn’t have to
compete with the required curriculum.
It integrates
easily into a teacher’s workload and also complements
Contact information:
the mandated curriculum in many subject areas…” JC
advises teachers to “…start simple. Take it one principle
JC Little
at a time…go into as much depth as time allows.”
Little Animation, Inc.
Email: [email protected]
CLEAN-India, India
Earth Charter in Delhi Schools:
One Earth, One Family
Usha Srinivasan42
On the occasion of Earth Day, the Delhi Government, represented by the
Honourable Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dikshit, expressed its commitment to the Earth Charter’s vision and launched a collaborative project
with CLEAN-India (Community Led Environment Action Network).
CLEAN-India is a programme created by Development Alternatives (a leading Indian NGO and ECI Affiliate) to bring the Earth Charter to over 2,000
schools in Delhi. As part of this effort, the Earth Charter will be integrated
into the school curriculum. This case study recapitulates the process that
led to the “Earth Charter in Delhi Schools” project, and how it has been
Usha Srinivasan is the senior advisor of CLEAN-India (Community Led Environment Action
Network) and Development Alternatives.
CLEAN-India evolved from a small group of teachers and
Methodological aspects
students from about 10 schools, with the aim of
motivating and empowering children and youth to act as
catalysts of change in mobilizing community members
to be environmentally responsible citizens.
over 60 schools are CLEAN-India members, covering
the entire metropolitan area of Delhi and the adjoining
cities of Noida and Gurgaon.
principles and developed a “Children’s Earth Charter”
version, with the objective of expanding the Charter’s
reach to our 30 NGO partners, and to thousands of
children and teachers from hundreds of schools. The
adapted version of the Earth Charter is available in
English, Hindi and seven regional languages.43
Charter evolved and then generated the project, “Earth
Charter in Delhi Schools,” which is in the process of
schools. For teachers, there are five workshops (of two
days each) and five field trips planned. For children,
there are seven modules that explain and promote
Earth Charter workshops for teachers
The workshops are divided into two days. The first day
is intended to sensitize and motivate the teachers to
include aspects of sustainability into their teaching. The
second day is intended to provide opportunities for
teachers to put into practice part of the theory received
Our experience using the adapted version of the Earth
Schools” are directed to teachers and children at
reflection on sustainability.
In 2005, CLEAN-India adopted the Earth Charter
The activities envisioned for “Earth Charter in Delhi
approximately 1,700 school in Delhi, in partnership with
the Department of Environment and Forests of the Delhi
Government. This project presents a potentially
powerful opportunity for our young people to
understand and analyze local and planetary (global)
interconnectedness, and to learn and incorporate into
their values the true strength of our country –
understanding, appreciating, and caring for our natural
and cultural heritage and our commitments towards
upholding the respect and dignity of all our people –
‘good’ globalization and sustainable living.
The “Earth Charter in Delhi Schools” project is being
implemented in phases. The first phase is for a period
of one year (April 2007 to April 2008) and is planned
to be extended in the second phase for two more years
(for a total period of three years).
In phase one, we are working with 500 school teachers
and are evaluating the programme and making
modifications where necessary. We are also working out
plans and strategies to take it to children and teachers
from schools in the other states, and in the next phase,
on the first day, by promoting an experiential learning
Day One – sensitizing workshop
The specific objectives of this workshop are to
introduce and articulate the principles of the Earth
Charter. The group is asked to analyze one local
issue and design an intervention for school students,
including inputs and actions on the issue. At the end
of the day the group draws up an action plan for the
whole intervention.
Activities and objectives:
a. Introductory session: An ice-breaker activity, for
• Introduce yourself: say your name and share a
symbol which represents you or your aspiration
(animal, flower, or any living or non-living thing)
• Introduce your neighbour: talk with your neighbour
and then introduce him/her to the audience; tell
two truths and one lie about your neighbour
b. Expectations: Ask participants to write down
what they expect from the workshop on a slip, and
then paste the slip on a board.
to reach out to the rest of the schools in Delhi and to
c. Introduction of the concept of the Earth
other cities.
Charter, using a PowerPoint presentation.
To learn more, visit: and
d. Connection of the Local and the Planetary: The
The field visit is related to the topic of the issue
idea is to analyze a local issue to establish the
interconnections between the issues at the local and
global level. The participants work in groups; they
– the ecological integrity group could work on a
take an idea from the group on a local issue, which
biodiversity count and the land–water relationship
they analyze, and then reflect on how it is related to
– the social justice group could research the access
the Earth Charter’s principles. Group work is
to health care of the local community
encouraged in order to increase the interaction and
– the democracy/peace group could work on the
exchange of opinions between participants, and to
access to information and decision-making in the
allow them to find answers without relying only on
the facilitator.
– the rights for all group could look at overall city
patterns and processes
e. Recap Session with Energizer: Each group will
briefly elucidate what issues have been identified.
As an example of relevant places to visit, a group
The aim is to check that there are no overlapping
dealing with waste management could visit the
issues. Groups may be rearranged based on the
Asola Bhatti mines (a reclaimed mining site in the
issues identified.
process of regeneration) and/or the Balsawa land fill
site (one of the land fill sites for Delhi).
f. From thoughts to action: The objective is to
design activities pertaining to the issue based on the
Below is a list of suggested places to visit, keeping in
principles of the Earth Charter and prepare an action
mind that they cover broadly all the issues of Delhi.
plan. Each group will prepare a plan with tangible
outputs, and will deal with one issue, working on
and integrating all the principles of the Earth Charter.
• Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary (reclaimed mining
Most of the principles on ecological integrity are
• Yamuna Bio Diversity Park (waste land reclaimed
being addressed under the CLEAN-India programme
that has a rich diversity of plants, birds, butterflies
and the Eco-clubs programme of the Delhi
and insects)
Government. Some aspects of the Charter’s other
principles are dealt with in the school curriculum,
• National History Museum (repository of some of
the national historical treasures)
but only theoretically. The teacher’s modules and
• Crafts Museum (master craftsmen from different
the students’ activities therein will add practical and
parts of the country demonstrating their arts and
experiential aspects and make it more meaningful
for them – helping make them active participants as
• Indian Parliament in session
well as initiators of change.
• Rehabilitated slum colony (inhabitants of the
slums on the banks of River Yamuna)
g. Presentations by the groups: As a result, one
group will be constituted, which will note down the
The field visits are intended to last half a day. After
action plans to be compiled as “Delhi Schools
the visit, the groups briefly share their experiences
and what they learned.
It is also expected that
participants provide their inputs to plan the
Day two: field trip
workshops for the school children.
Each group will undertake one small activity the next
day (e.g. a community survey or a street play) to
The first set of workshops took place in Asola Bhatti
make the field trip into a greater transformative
wildlife sanctuary. Teachers participating in the first
learning experience.
workshops also had the opportunity to interact with
experts from Bombay Natural History Museum, and
engaged in several activities related to the various
3. Write down the different roles played by women
in your family.
nature trails. The teachers also interacted with forest
4. Create a club or group to discuss the daily
officials and the users (for firewood and fodder) of
violence and abuse that you or others you know
the forest from the surrounding villages.
are witnessing, and share what you might be
able to do to improve the situation.
Activities for children –
Earth Charter Modules
5. Pledge that you will not ask (or pay for) a dowry.
6. Do you feel that this problem can ultimately be
addressed (solved) through literacy? Actions
Seven modules – three modules on the Earth
might include students helping educate more
Charter’s principles and one each on biodiversity,
disadvantaged children.
management – are being distributed to 1,700
2. Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace
schools. These modules have been prepared by the
CLEAN-India programme team, with input and
The “Electoral Process” is an activity to reflect on the
contributions from youth from colleges in Delhi, and
Earth Charter principle 13: “Strengthen democratic
are serving as aid materials for teachers. A set of
institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and
posters on the Earth Charter principles are also
accountability in governance, inclusive participation in
being prepared and will be used for awareness
decision making and access to justice.”
generation. Activities for generating awareness –
street theatre, rallies, competitions, and exhibitions –
will also be undertaken.
The Electoral Process activity:
The following are three examples of student
List all the different election-related activities and
assignments and activities that could be carried out
arrange them in a time sequence, beginning
as part of the modules.
with the first activity and ending with the last.
Some of these activities are: releasing election
1. Social and Economic Justice
To address principle 11 of the Earth Charter: “Affirm
manifestos; counting of votes; making a voters’
list; election campaigning; declaring election
gender equality and equity as prerequisites to
results; casting of votes; ordering a re-poll;
sustainable development and ensure universal access to
announcing election schedule; filing nomination.
education, health care and economic opportunity,”
children would understand the complex issues of gender
Start an electoral process in your school (or in
equality and how inequality afflicts our society, by means
class) following some or all of the activities listed
of discussions and interactions. Different thoughtprovoking questions and exercises are used to promote
critical thinking regarding gender equality, hoping that
these will inspire students to proactively take small
measures for ensuring equality for men and women.
Examples of exercises and questions:
Indians always feel proud of the fact that we are part of the
biggest democracy in the world, but do we actually
understand the democratic process? How are our
representatives elected? Carrying out this activity will involve
1. How many among us admire a woman?
holding an election in the school and covering all the
2. Are women given their due respect in your
activities related to an election process. This exercise will
help our youth to understand the election process; to be a
part of the whole system, and to encourage them to
actually cast their votes when elections are held in their city.
3. Ecological Integrity
Actions and results from the
children’s workshops
We have launched three large-scale activities in Delhi,
including the Green Million, waste recycling, and
To reflect on Principle 5: “Protect and restore the
Celebrating River Yamuna.
integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special
concern for biological diversity and the natural processes
1. Green Million – A million native trees are being
that sustain life,” it has been useful to undertake field
planted across Delhi by school children over three
trips to sacred groves, and get children involved in
activities related to these special places.
2. Waste paper recycling saves trees, thus saving the
carbon sinks and reducing pollution, and also
‘Sacred groves’ (patches of forest dedicated to local
saves water and energy. Children are also making
deities) are unique and distributed all over India. There
paper using the recycling plants set up in their
are about 17,000 known sacred groves that have
schools. Seventy-five schools will be part of this
survived the axe of development, political turmoil and
natural calamities, due in part to conservation ethics
coupled with taboos and traditions. Hence, in the
present context, ‘sacred groves’ are not merely a patch
of forest, but are islands of life in desolated landscapes.
They represent the past status of vegetation and biota,
as well as a biotic diversity of the region.
However, the number of groves is declining as social
values and religious beliefs are changing due to
modernization, urbanization and the expansion of the
market economy. Habitat destruction is on rise in these
once socially-guarded ecosystems.
3. Celebrating River Yamuna – the Yamuna River is
the life-line for Delhi. It is highly polluted mainly
due to the untreated sewage from homes and
effluents from small industries. Celebrating River
Yamuna was launched on Earth Day 2007 and
included these activities:
• The students monitored the water quality, help
in the cleaning up of some stretches of the
river, and spread awareness about it in their
schools and communities.
• The students spoke to the priest of one of the
To deal with this issue, the “Earth Charter in Delhi
temples on the riverbank (Ram Ghat, a place
Schools” project promotes the activity: “Adopt a heritage
where devotees perform religious rites and
tree.” The idea is that students adopt a heritage tree,
immerse flowers and other ‘Pooja’ materials in
located in a nearby sacred grove. First, the students are
the river). They talked about the increase in the
asked to improve their knowledge about the heritage
levels of pollution in the river due to certain
tree by collecting information from various sources, so
religious practices. Now the temple displays a
they learn about its religious, social and environmental
board of “Do’s and Don’ts” for the devotees. A
significance. Second, they compile their findings into a
cement tank is now available for the collection
poster, pamphlet and/or booklet and distribute them to
of flowers, and other such materials for
visitors; they could also put up informational signage
composting, and the priest has been successful
with permission from the authorities.
in keeping the stretch near Ram Ghat clean.
The teachers can even encourage students to initiate an
awareness campaign in the area to make local people
Lessons learned
aware of the significance of their heritage tree and, in this
sense, promote positive values within the students about
This project is still in the process of being implemented;
their place in their communities and in the wider world.
nonetheless it has achieved important political support
from high government officials in Delhi. Having this
The capital city of Delhi has led the way for other state
support helps the project bring about changes in the
governments to follow with many of its initiatives. Delhi
education system by encouraging the discussion of
is growing at a very fast rate and many in society are
social, economic and ecological aspects of local
facing numerous social, economic and ecological
situations in schools in an integrated way.
problems. We felt, therefore, that it was the right time
to initiate “The Earth Charter in Delhi Schools.”
This support is the result of various factors. One factor is
that Development Alternatives has been interacting with
all stakeholders including the State and Central
Governments. The activities of this organization have
attracted the attention of both the political leadership
and the administration. The Honourable Chief Minister
Contact information:
has been taking a keen interest in the activities and has
also participated in some of them.
Usha Srinivasan
Another factor is that the CLEAN-India programme has
been working in Delhi schools for over a decade on
Email: [email protected]
various environmental issues, and is involved in projects
and programmes of the Delhi Government (formulation
of school Environmental Science curriculum and books;
teachers’ trainings; ‘Bhagidari’ programmes; awareness
programmes; and exhibitions). Some of the CLEANIndia initiatives have influenced government policies,
such as the formulation of “Greening” guidelines and a
tree help line; the banning of polythene bags; and the
use of natural and eco-friendly products for celebrating
festivals (such as eco-friendly Holi and Diwali without
Voyager Montessori School, United States
Butterflies and being kind:
An elementary school
embraces the Earth Charter
Kimberly Corrigan44
At the start of the year everyone at school will come together and
we’ll ask ourselves “How do we want to enhance our commitment to
the Earth Charter?” We have a million ideas! And by using all the
Earth Charter’s principles we’ll have topics for the next sixteen
Renee Kok, Head of School
Education programme advocate, YES! Magazine, Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.
The students and staff at Voyager Montessori
Magazine,45 Facing the Future: People and the Planet,46
Elementary School are living the Earth Charter’s
and the World Affairs Council.47
principles inside and outside the classroom by working
together to create a peaceful, healthy, ecologically
YES! Magazine and its partners have offered two such
diverse, and sustainable environment on their 3.5-acre
workshops on the Earth Charter for K–12 educators
campus in Washington State. The school officially
(one in 2006 and one in 2007). Workshops lasted
endorsed the Earth Charter on Earth Day 2007 in a day-
three to four hours and provided teachers with an
long celebration with staff, students, and parents after
overview of the Earth Charter’s history and principles; a
spending the academic year engaged in projects guided
copy of “The YES! Earth Charter Reader + Guide” (see
by the Charter’s principles.
Box 3); hands-on practice using Facing the Future lesson
plans; and a PowerPoint presentation on global climate
Voyager Montessori Elementary School (Voyager) has
change with an extended question-and-answer session
capacity for 44 students in kindergarten through sixth
with an international expert on carbon issues from the
grade (K–6), and six staff members: four teachers and
University of Washington.48
two administrators. The school follows the Montessori
Curriculum, designed to “educate the child for life” by
After attending the workshop, the staff decided to
providing children with the tools to be independent
incorporate the Earth Charter’s principles in their school
learners, build self-esteem in a safe environment,
by adapting the materials in “The YES! Earth Charter
develop social skills, find peaceful resolutions to conflict,
Reader + Guide” and by adapting the Earth Scouts’
understand the democratic process, honour individuality
version of the Charter’s principles: (1) play fair and learn
and diversity, and instil respect and responsibility for the
to share, (2) love nature and clean up your mess, (3)
everybody matters so be kind to others, and (4) always
complementary to the Earth Charter’s major principles
shake hands and make up, everyone deserves to be
of respect and care for the community of life, ecological
integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy,
nonviolence, and peace.
Voyager’s staff also saw Al Gore’s movie, “An
Inconvenient Truth,” and felt increased urgency to
The staff of Voyager were introduced to the Earth
address environmental issues, yet in a manner
Charter when they attended a workshop entitled, “The
appropriate for their young students. According to the
Earth Charter: Local and Global Connections for Earth
Head of School, “We wanted to inform the kids about
Day” held for 70 K–12 educators in March 2006. The
the issues, but not scare them or leave them feeling
programme was co-presented and sponsored by YES!
threatened.” So they created projects focused on
positive solutions to problems, and on taking action
within a community that the students could control—
their school.
YES! Magazine is an advertising-free quarterly in print and online at: YES! is published by the Positive Futures
Network, an independent nonprofit organization. YES! offers stories about
solutions and resources to support people in building a just and sustainable
Learn more about Facing the Future: People and the Planet, at: Facing the Future offers lessons and resources
for teaching about sustainability.
Learn more about The World Affairs Council at:
The World Affairs Council is a membership-based organization that creates
forums for discussion of critical world issues.
Children learning about waste management.
Dr. Richard Gammon is a Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Oceanography, and an Adjunct Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington
in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Learn more about the Earth Scouts at:
Box 3: The YES! Earth Charter Reader + Guide ~ bringing the Charter to life
The YES! Earth Charter Reader + Guide is designed to introduce teachers and students to the Earth Charter
through inspiring, positive, solution-oriented stories about people, in the US and around the globe, who are
creating a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Stories highlight youth as leaders and impart the
message that young people are making a real difference in shaping a better future for all. The 60-page
guide includes:
• The full text of the Earth Charter
• One YES! Magazine story about how the Earth Charter was created, written by Jan Roberts, director of
Earth Charter US, Earth Charter Communities Initiative, and Earth Scouts
• Four stories from YES! Magazine (, each one paired with a major principle from
the Earth Charter
• Four standards-based lesson plans with resources from curricular experts, Facing the Future: People
and the Planet (, each one paired with a major principle from the Earth
• An annotated resource guide and service-learning reference section
• An example of a YES! story paired with an Earth Charter principle
The Earth Charter principle ‘Ecological integrity’ is brought to life through the YES! story, “Bringing biodiesel
from Colourado to Colombia,” which tells the story of a group of university students who powered their
schools’ buses with biodiesel from recycled cooking oil. Their learning journey goes global when they accept
an invitation to go to Gaviotas, Colombia and participate in a local biodiesel refinery project. They also learn
about the social and economic impact of environmental work, and the need to serve a community’s broader
To learn more about how YES! Magazine promotes the Earth Charter through the “Earth Charter Curricular
Module” online, visit and click on “Education Connection.” The YES! website
offers free access to thousands of stories, special web-only content and practical resources for getting
involved. View stories in Spanish by visiting “YES! Online: En Español” on the YES! homepage.
Methodology and activities
of Voyager elementary
The Montessori philosophy of education fits with the
UNESCO vision for educating in support of the Decade
of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) with
methods that are constructive and participatory;
approaches to new material that are integrative and
multi-disciplinary; and hands-on activities that are
context specific and action-oriented.
Learning different skills.
Voyager organizes their kindergarten–6th grade learners
• Recycling paper, plastics, and glass
into two multi-age classes, juniors and seniors. The
• Using less water
teachers are experts in instruction and subject matter,
and approach teaching through facilitation and
encouragement, nurturing their students’ natural
curiosity and joy of learning.
• Composting their food waste
• Building bee boxes and incubating an endangered
butterfly species
• Planting a garden to ‘invite pollinators’ into their
Teachers already had a full curriculum planned, so rather
than creating a separate programme to introduce the
Earth Charter, they looked for ways to include the
principles within their established “all-school curriculum”
– weekly activities that all grades participate in together,
such as gardening, reading, and art. The Head of School
did not create extra requirements for teachers and tried
to fold discussions about projects into existing staff
• Constructing two strawberry beds to honour the
historical farmers of the school’s land
• Supporting local artists by showcasing their work
and then making recycled gifts (shopping bags,
greetings cards, flower seed and dried herb packets,
lavender sachets)
meetings. They looked for meaningful and collaborative
• Writing and presenting poetry about peace with
activities that embodied the Charter’s principles while
each other, their parents, and elders in their
also supporting their school’s goals. They continually
solicited student ideas, and by assessing together what
• Drawing and sending handmade peace cards
they were learning and why it mattered, students were
to one school in each of the 50 states to serve
constantly shaping the curriculum.
their wider ‘circle of kindness’
• Sending vegetable seed packets to a village in
The “all-school curriculum” programme offered several
hours a week for lessons and activities. Experts from the
community were invited to the school to help staff and
In their own way, students learned that the Earth
students gain specific knowledge and to learn new skills.
Charter’s principles of ecological integrity, social and
For example, they taught staff and students how to
economic justice, and peace were interconnected. For
make ‘bokashi’ (bran, molasses, and microbes mixed
example, when the students wanted to act on their
with food waste to create compost), how to build a
vision of a perfect world by creating less waste, they
garden and enrich soil, as well as how to choose the
collected their garbage for 24 hours, analyzed it, and
appropriate flowers and plants to attract an endangered
determined it was mostly food scraps. So they
butterfly to their garden. They also learned how to build
composted the food waste and used it to enrich soil in
two raised strawberry beds and then care for the soil
the schoolyard.
and the berry plants, as well as how to raising butterflies
and bees and create places for them to thrive on
Meanwhile, students were learning about the history of
the school’s property and found it had been a
strawberry farm owned by a Japanese-American family.
These activities developed organically from the
During WWII, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor,
discussions at the beginning of the year, when students
Americans of Japanese decent were sent to internment
envisioned and described ‘a perfect world.’ After creating
camps and Bainbridge Island was the first place to
a list that included everything from “more trees and less
evacuate its residents. To honour the historical use of
pollution,” to “no war and more teddy bear hamsters,”
their land and the Japanese American farmers who once
students spent the school year bringing their vision to
worked there, staff and students built two large, raised
life. Guided by the values of loving nature, helping
garden beds and grew the same Marshall Strawberry
people, and being peaceful, the students engaged in
that had been grown there before. They reached out to
the following activities:
the Bainbridge Historical Society for assistance in
locating the unique berry plants, and after caring for
Going forward, the Earth Charter will be the permanent
them for many months they harvested the berries and
educational framework for Voyager’s yearly “all-school
offered them as a ‘thank you’ to the people who
curriculum.” They will maintain their existing projects,
volunteered with the school.
such as composting, and tending the butterfly garden,
bees and strawberry beds, and will also undertake new
projects as they explore the Charter’s different
Lessons learned and plans
for the future
Teachers chose not to introduce the Earth Charter to
students as ‘a document to study.’ Instead, they asked
their students to go through the same process as those
who originally created the Earth Charter – envision a
better world and identify the values and principles it
would take to create it. Voyager students then spent the
school year taking conscious actions based on their own
values and principles.
At the end of the year the students examined the text of
the Earth Charter, and found their own values
embedded throughout. They understood that their
projects—composting food waste, making gifts from
recycled materials, building gardens, raising butterflies
and bees, supporting local artists, and creating peace
poetry to share with others—were vibrant examples of
This year Voyager acted to create ‘a perfect world’ at
their school. Next year the Earth Charter will again guide
Voyager as they explore their ‘unique island home.’ They
will study the geology, culture, history, and geography of
the island and explore ways to meet their basic needs—
food and clothing—through local resources. They may
also reach across the globe to find other schools trying
to meet their needs within their local communities.
Voyager is passionate about keeping the Earth Charter’s
vision and principles alive, inside and outside the
classroom. “We were all transformed by the experience;”
said Renee Kok, Head of School, “perhaps the teachers
most of all. We were totally inspired by the kids. It felt so
good to be working together towards something
important. We gave kids tools to make decisions for
tomorrow—which is our job—because it is their future.”
the Charter’s principles in action. After a year of living the
principles of the Earth Charter at school, and often at
home as well, the students and staff knew they could
endorse it with integrity, purpose and a sense of
Contact information:
The programme resulted in many valuable outcomes.
Students felt more involved and responsible for the care
of the school environment and for each other. The
relationship between the school and the local
community was deepened. Parents received regular up-
Kimberly Corrigan
YES! Magazine ~ Education Connection
Email: [email protected]
dates about school activities and reported to the Head
of School that they felt better able to initiate relevant
and meaningful conversations with their kids about what
was happening at school. Further, parents supported the
Earth Charter-inspired projects by participating in the
school’s Earth Charter endorsement celebration on
Earth Day 2007.
Renee Kok
Voyager Montessori Elementary School
Email: [email protected]
Ministry of Education, Romania
Values for a sustainable future:
The Earth Charter and
educational curriculum
in Romania
Gabriela Scarlat and Constanta Poede50
The processes of European integration reflected in “The Lisbon Strategy”
and “The EU Strategy on Sustainable Development” helped the Romanian
government set its priorities in defining national strategic objectives for
European integration. As part of the integration effort, Romania approved
the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) strategy for
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and actively joined the United
Nations Decade for ESD.
As a result of a broad political and socio-economic transformation, the
Romanian educational system has undergone a dramatic shift towards
European integration and mature forms of democracy. These changes are
bringing about new opportunities, as well as increasing the need for education initiatives and projects, with the view to making education for sustainability part of the formal learning experience of Romanian school children.
Ms. Gabriela Scarlat is a General Inspector of the Department of Pre-university Education of the
Ministry of Education and Research of Romania.
Ms. Constanta Poede is a Deputy Head Teacher of School N.13 “Stefan cel Mare” in Gelati,
In mid-2006, Dr. Mihail Hardau, the Romanian Minister
Methods and activities
of Education and Research, asked his staff to develop a
broad action plan for integrating Earth Charter principles
into the school-based curriculum, through new content,
objectives and criteria for student proficiency. The main
principles of sustainable development as expressed in
the Earth Charter had already been reflected in the
documented in the national report at the 2nd Meeting of
the Steering Committee on ESD in December 2006 in
Activities at the ministerial level
The project started during preparation for the
2006–2007 school year. The Ministry made ESD
materials available that had been sent by the Earth
Development by posting them on its website and by
presenting them to county school inspectors and the
heads of schools. The Ministry offered funding for
school contests related to subjects in which the Earth
Among the measures planned and taken to promote
ESD through formal and non-formal learning in
Romania, the Ministry of Education included the
“…Promotion of the Earth Charter as an educational
instrument/material to be used in pre-university
education, through posting the Earth Charter on the
ministry website (; recommending
that county school inspectorates and schools develop
school-based curriculum on the Earth Charter; and to
organize extracurricular activities at the county and
school level, based on the Earth Charter’s principles.”51
By the start of the 2006–2007 school year in Romania,
the Department of Pre-University (primary and
secondary) Education had integrated the Earth Charter
in subjects included in the core curriculum, vocational
training modules, and general school-based curriculum:
Charter principles were reflected. Four types of contests
were organized at the local, county and national levels:
(“Democracy and Tolerance,” as based on student
Environment;” and ecology (“SOS Nature”).
Activities at the school level ~ case of No. 13
Stefan cel Mare secondary school
The experience of No. 13 Stefan cel Mare secondary
school (Stefan cel Mare) is a concrete example of the
adaptation of ministerial plans for the integration of the
Earth Charter framework for ESD. This Romanian school,
like many others, designed its own project to apply
sustainable development principles and values in its
teaching process and in students’ interaction with
parents, partners and the local community.
The school is located in the city of Galati, one of the five
• Core curriculum: Technological Education,
largest cities in Romania, and is located on the banks of
the Danube River, with its unique natural habitat for flora
Entrepreneurship, Economy, Applied Economy,
and fauna. Stefan cel Mare is a large, modern school
Sociology, Philosophy, Social Studies, Geography
located in one of the central districts of the city with 850
and Ecology
pupils and 36 classes (17 primary and 19 midsecondary classes). The school also employs 50
• Vocational Training Modules: Preventing and
fighting pollution, Preserving biodiversity, Waste
teachers, most of them holding the highest national
didactic degrees.
management, Regeneration of trees, Sustainable
development, among others
The teachers are very enthusiastic and open to local,
national and international initiatives, particularly in such
areas as the environment, responsible consumption,
education through extracurricular activities, life-long
• School-based curriculum: Health Education,
Biology, Arts
education and skills, foreign languages, and education
for democracy and peace. The pedagogical team
This statement is part of the official Minutes of the 2nd Meeting of the UNECE Steering Committee
on ESD (Geneva, 4-5 December 2006).
reported finding all of the above-mentioned areas
was clear that the Earth Charter framework could help
addressed by the Earth Charter document and its
them to further incorporate the integrated vision of
principles. The school deputy headmistress and English
sustainability into formal educational programmes,
language teacher, Constanta Puede, together with her
extracurricular activities and relations with parents and
colleagues, decided to endorse the Earth Charter and
the local community. The time frame of the project was
apply its principles in their school and in the local
set from October 2006 to December 2007. Participants
included 300 primary school pupils, 250 lowersecondary school pupils, 14 primary school teachers, as
“The Way Forward:” Project Description
well as teachers of English, Biology, Art, Geography,
The Earth Charter school project is entitled: “The Way
Religion and Civic Education. Art teachers helped
Forward – The Choice is Ours: Educational Programme
students set up exhibitions, performances, musicals, and
for Extracurricular Activities in Sustaining Earth Charter
recitals with Earth Charter themes. A group of
Principles.” A motivated group of teachers set up a
enthusiastic young primary school educators were also
School Development Plan that defined the goals, means
inspired by the Earth Charter and assumed a very active
and methods to educate students on the principles of
role in this endeavour.
sustainability; to promote democracy, tolerance, equal
opportunities, cooperation and integration into the
It is important to mention that the Pupils’ Council, a
world’s community; and towards shaping a world based
democratic student governance group comprising 60
on respect for nature and universal human rights. During
pupils, made essential contributions to the decision-
the course of the project, students were expected to
making processes and implementation of the project, in
develop the following skills and values:
co-operation with the School Board. The school
educational counsellor and the school psychologist
• Become responsible to one another, the greater
community of life and future generations
• Take care of life with understanding, compassion
and love
• Act with moderation and efficiency when using
• Protect local sites of spiritual and cultural
were involved in all project activities, and the project
reached a further 400 parents and many neighbours of
the students. In the wider community, the local parish
priest and congregation of the church, Inaltarea
organizations and NGOs that signed partnership
agreements with the school included: the local branch
of Friends of the Earth, the Ecological Consulting Centre,
• Develop students’ democratic spirit
the Natural Science Museum, the NGO “Save the
• Identify solutions to prevent harming the
Children,” and the local branches of the Anti-Drugs
environment through inappropriate waste
management and garbage pollution
Environmental Protection Agency.
• Develop the capacity of self-organization and
team-building spirit
• Support the local community in decision-making
processes and
• Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual
education for a sustainable life.
“The Way Forward:” Methodology and
The project was designed as a series of interconnected
mini-projects, each reflecting one of the Earth Charter
principles. The four mini-projects are described below.
“The Way Forward:” Project time frame,
target group, and partners
1) The Green School (Green 13)
School staff had prior experience in looking for
of the nation-wide programme, Eco-School. The project
innovative ways to promote sustainable education and
was inspired by Earth Charter principle 7(a): “Reduce,
integrate its methods in various areas and subjects. It
reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and
Green 13 educational activities were carried out as part
consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste
becoming very popular, attracting many new members.
can be assimilated by ecological systems.”
The local branch of the National Foundation for the
Environment was also a partner in this activity.
From January - October 2007, 60 pupils from grades 3
to 7 set up a Green Volunteers Group and designed an
2) Energy Is Our Future
eco-code of behaviour based on the second Earth
This mini-project is based on Earth Charter principle
Charter principle and its sub-principles. The Green
7(b): “Act with restraint and efficiency when using
Volunteers Group, with help from 36 teachers, set up a
energy and rely increasingly on renewable energy
monthly collection of paper-waste to sort and sell to the
sources such as solar and wind.”
local waste processing plant. With the motto “Nothing to
be thrown out, everything can be recycled!,” more than
Since November 2006, 60 members of the Green
200 students, alongside their parents and neighbours,
Volunteers Group, assisted by their science teachers, have
became involved, and donated their earnings to the
held a series of workshops for the rest of the school under
Green Volunteer Group for the tools, materials and
the general titles: “What energy is” and “Climate change
literature necessary for future activities.
effects.” The participating primary and secondary teachers
developed materials to assist them in integrating
This group also organized and led a Spring Carnival on
sustainable energy issues across school disciplines, both
April 22, 2007, with a parade of costumes made from
inside and outside the school environment.
recyclable materials being showcased in the school
gymnasium. Seventeen primary school teachers helped
Teachers helped the students to prepare materials and
with costume design, background music and parade
visual aids in order to demonstrate sustainable and
logistics. It was on a bright spring day that 100 of the
unsustainable energy production and consumption.
youngest students from grades 1–4 celebrated Earth
Day with friends and family in beautiful – and often
presentations – carried out during lessons on physics,
funny – costumes.
chemistry and biology –several working groups formed
to continue the lively discussions in an informal learning
Another part of the mini-project was named “Funny
environment. Partners of the project, such as the local
Recycling,” under the leadership of ‘funny teachers’ from
branch of Friends of the Earth, have attended these
“The Fun Science Club” – a group of enthusiastic
presentations to share the latest scientific information
primary teachers who stimulate their students’ hunger
with participants; they have also helped to prepare
for knowledge by making theatrical educational
senior students for future roles as community trainers.
presentations for students. The Fun Science Club is
This mini-project will continue through 2007.
Mini project “Funny Recycling”: 3th graders make theatrical
educational presentations.
Mini project -Energy is our future-. 4th graders
In October 2007, as a complimentary mini-project, the
posters and essays on ecological themes, and making
ten winners of the school contest participated in an
stuffed animals from recyclable materials during lessons
online competition to design posters and slogans on
for handcrafts and recreation.
4) The social component ~ projects on education,
organized by the web-based international project
health, and human rights
“Energy is our Future,” is focused on supporting energy
The social component of the Earth Charter, as reflected
education across school curricula and helping teachers
in the fourth pillar “Democracy, Nonviolence and
to raise students’ awareness of conserving energy,
Peace,” initiated many educational activities and events.
understanding energy consumption, and advocating the
Particularly inspiring were principles 14: “Integrate into
importance of renewable energy. The project also aims
formal education and life-long learning the knowledge,
to inspire students to influence their own and others’
values and skills needed for sustainable development;”
behaviours and lifestyles. This online project is also part
14a: “Provide all, especially children and youth, with
of web-based European School Net, sponsored by the
educational opportunities that empower them to
European Commission to advance the European
contribute actively to sustainable development;” and
integration process (
14d: “Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual
education for sustainable living.”
3) We Protect and Preserve the Environment
The second pillar of the Earth Charter (“Ecological
The need to educate students to become socially
Integrity”) and its principles, have inspired several mini-
responsible citizens motivated the Pupils’ Council and
projects for the school’s younger students (grades 1–3).
teachers to invite representatives of a local Anti-Drug
Principle 5 has particularly served as a source of
Agency and other community members to participate in
inspiration: “Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s
the project. Activities included a thematic cartoon
ecological systems, with special concern for biological
exhibition of the most common and dangerous drugs, a
diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.”
discussion of a film about youth and drugs, and a
In November 2006, primary school teachers and
psychologist and doctor. This activity was later followed
students in biology (along with many of their parents)
by a school role-play, “We, the Children, Have Rights,
undertook a study trip to the Focul Viu mountain ridge
Too: Respect Them!” The play was written and staged by
in Vrancea County to learn about the flora and fauna.
students after their enrolment in a series of social
Applying Earth Charter principle 5, students then gave
studies lessons, and this was followed by a debate
presentations on the endangered bird species and
session in the education resource hall. Partners in this
animals of that natural habitat, and arranged a photo
mini-project included parents, neighbours and members
exhibition to be shown at the school to parents, partners
of the local branch of Save the Children.
and residents of the school’s neighbourhood.
Another ongoing mini-project, “I can help, too!” was
Inspired by this experience, the students soon after
carried out from October 2006 to October 2007, by
launched a mini-campaign, “The Danube: The River next
teachers, students, parents and the congregation of the
to us,” and invited a local partner, the Ecological
local Catholic church, Inaltarea Domnului. The students,
Consulting Centre, to join in the initiative. The children
along with their parents and teachers, identified old,
cleaned the riverbanks and took photos to illustrate their
infirmed and lonely people in their community and took
efforts and the waste and pollution in the Danube, and
turns caring for their needs. This helped them to
added these to their permanent photo exhibition.
recognize the importance of moral and spiritual life, and
Teachers have used this experience to organize other
taught them that compassion is an integral part of truly
activities, such as designing an ecological file for each
sustainable living.
pupil and for the whole class, arranging exhibitions of
“The Way Forward:” Evaluation of the
school project
At a first glance, it might seem that the changes are not
profound – just a tidier schoolyard and participation in
contests. But that is just the first glance. Since the launch
The impact of the Earth Charter school project “The Way
of the project, the students and teachers of Stefan cel
Forward –The Choice is Ours: Educational Programme
Mare have demonstrated increased
for ExtraCurricular Activities in Sustaining Earth Charter
academic results, strong partnerships with local NGOs
Principles” was assessed through a questionnaire and a
and other community stakeholders participating in the
series of interviews with all stakeholders, including
mini-projects and other school initiatives, and a growing
students, teachers, parents and other partners. It
awareness of (and involvement in) energy, water and
waste issues.
motivation and
development, particularly in view of the change in
teaching style, student involvement and democratic
Moreover, the school has seen other important
approaches to learning. The most successful examples
outcomes, such as more parent-student involvement
of teaching methods and student initiatives were
and better teacher-student relations based on
documented for developing new educational strategies,
teamwork, cooperation and active participation in school
as were the outcomes of each activity (such as tables
activities. In addition, students are taking concrete
and graphics depicting the amount of waste paper
actions for a better future. They have decided to use the
collected by each class). Class winners were awarded
Earth Charter as the framework for designing their own
diplomas and presents, and articles were published in
“Code of Environmental Behaviour,” which will be
the school magazine and in local newspapers. A final
introduced by the Student Council. In summary,
report was presented during the Conference on
students have become actively involved in school and
Dissemination and Evaluation on October 5, 2007 –
community life, and are demonstrating the attitudes and
Education Day in Romania.
behaviours of truly concerned citizens.
The participants and partners in this project have
Lessons learned and future
In Romania, it is clearly understood that education for
learned to think and act as “a little part of the global
community” and to feel a sense of interdependence
and shared responsibility for the wellbeing of the human
family and the larger living world.
sustainable development is a process through which
teachers and students learn about the concept of the
common good, and learn how to become citizens who
actively contribute to social and environmental changes
Contact information:
through cooperation and respect. The case study of the
projects carried out by the Stefan cel Mare school is just
Gabriela Scarlat
one of many examples of Romanian schools integrating
Ministry of Education and Research of
the Earth Charter into their educational curriculum and
extracurricular activities. These activities provide students
Email: [email protected]
development can be achieved through exercising social
Constanta Poede
and political rights. These experiences also help students
School 13, Stefan cel Mare Galati,
to develop critical thinking skills, and encourage them
and their teachers, parents, and community members to
Email: [email protected]
engage in participatory, hands-on, integrated actions
towards living in a more sustainable way.
University of Granada, Spain
Experimenting with the Earth Charter:
Activities of the Faculty of
Educational Sciences
Alfonso Fernández Herrería and José Luis Conde52
The Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Granada has
undertaken a series of experimental activities based on the Earth Charter
with students from different educational programmes. These activities are
in response to a commitment amongst most members of this faculty to
gradually incorporate the Earth Charter principles within the entire
university community.
The Faculty Board’s decision to endorse the Earth Charter in 2006 was a
testament to this commitment. The document was presented before the
student population in a public ceremony, presided by the Dean, D.
Francisco Fernández Palomares.
Professors, University of Granada, Spain.
Many of the activities developed by the faculty have
each principle that had been selected during a weekly
been inspired by the principles contained in the Earth
seminar of the group “Teaching Together.”
Charter. One of the main activities has been the creation
of an interdepartmental Earth Charter research and
Once the students were briefed on the Earth Charter
development group. In this case study, however, only
principles, they were asked to write a journal entry, over
three experiences developed with graduate students in
the course of one academic term, which defines each
Child Education will be described indepth. We will also
principle. The students were then asked to initiative
describe an activity in Sensorial Conscience, carried out
activities in their daily lives that could be seen from the
in two subjects: Philosophy in Education and Education
perspective of ‘human dignity.’
for Peace.
have to record these actions in their personal diary, and
Each student would
then match it to one or more principles that they had
Experiences in a Graduate
Course of Child Education
written about. Later, they could reflect on the reasons
why these actions were matched to each principle and,
most of all, what impact this had on the persons
involved in the action, and on the students themselves.
The following are three experiences undertaken by two
groups of students in their second year of the Graduate
After carrying out this project, we were able to ascertain
Course of Child Education. These took place during the
that the students were positively affected by the Earth
2006 and 2007 academic terms, and were promoted
Charter principles. The students adopted habits that
by Professor José Luis Conde. Participating students,
reflected the core values of the document, and most
between 18-21 years of age, were encouraged by
students continue to record their activities in the daily
Professor Conde to use art in various forms, such as
corporal expression, plays, and magic, to express the
Earth Charter principles. The aim was to sensitize other
Another aspect we would like to mention is the fact that
people, especially those participating in the educational
when a student carries out any action, not only is
activities described below.
he/she affected, but others also automatically become
familiar with the actions and subsequently become
1. Earth Charter Diary
inspired – producing a domino effect that exponentially
multiplies the number of people committed to achieving
The objective of this activity was to familiarize students
changes in conscience. This can be seen as bringing
about the notion of sustainability within the Earth
about a more sustainable future and a positive
Charter and its principles, and to outline the ways and
transformation of society.
advantages of implementing these. This experience
involved a total of 200 students directly and, indirectly,
The following are excerpts from student diaries that
their circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances were
portray the impact of the experience.
also included. The impact has been an increased
awareness about the holistic framework offered by the
Next to my house there is a home for the elderly,
Earth Charter, but, above all, the possibilities for its
which I used to visit every once in a while. The other
day, I walked past the door thinking that I had to
visit them soon, so today I made up my mind and
Methodological Aspects
called a friend, and we have visited the home. –
Eva María Burgos
The first activity was to provide students with a
comprehensive overview of the sustainability notion and
the Earth Charter principles. This was achieved through
There was a small two- or three-week-old kitten. It
a PowerPoint presentation including photographs for
looked at me with that cute little face… it was a
feeling... almost indescribable. My partner and I
Charter and to the Spanish-based Fundación Valores.
looked at each other and decided to adopt her. –
The purpose is to share curricular materials with
Mónica González
Spanish-speaking teachers and parents, anywhere in the
world, that may need assistance teaching children in the
In my house, instead of throwing away the used up
classroom. What stands out about the webpage is that
cooking oil into the kitchen sink or in the trash, we
the educational materials collected and selected (by
are collecting it in large containers to take them to
over 400 Educational Science students of the University
my grandmother so that she may recycle it and
of Granada) are presented in a fun and interactive
make soap, which we believe also saves us money
when buying detergents. –
Marta Arellano
When I go shopping, I don’t use plastic bags any
Methodological Aspects
more, but instead I carry my own shopping bag. –
As we mentioned before, the form in which this material
María Pérez
is presented on the webpage is appealing and fun for
the child, which is the only way for children to learn
anything, and the only way in which we should always
Lessons learned
have been taught – through games, songs, stories,
riddles, poetry, and even jokes. A wide range of material
After this experience, in addition to becoming familiar
is available for teachers to use in whatever form is most
with the Earth Charter principles, the students were
trained to play a leading role in bringing about change in
their immediate surroundings. This is testament to the
Besides all of these materials, we have launched a
fact that through their actions, these students can be
virtual library recommending fifteen ‘must read’ books
influential in the transformation of society. The positive
for each of the six years of the Child Education phase.
effects generated by this experience serve as an
We also recommend educational films, teach how to
inspiration to replicate this practice (writing a diary of the
make balloon figures and shadows, how to reach out to
Earth Charter principles) to other faculties within
people with disabilities and – Ah! – since this is the year
university settings, and even to primary schools and high
of magic, we also teach educators to venture inside the
schools in Granada; and, if possible, throughout the
fascinating world of physics through magic.
Spanish territory.
We have also opened up an online forum for parents
2 . Webpage: Teaching Together
and teachers who might be seeking advice on a
particular situation; people who have gone through
The objective of this proposal is to make known and
similar situations may also help them to find a practical
widely available the curricular materials needed for
solution. By the same token, we also have a niche of
children’s education in low-income, Spanish-speaking
short stories where grown-ups can go to reflect and
communities. The experience has involved over 400
express themselves, and a chest where anyone can
students and will benefit thousands of people. As a
send a treasure: a song, a poem, a story… that we can
direct result of the proposal, a webpage has been
all share.
launched to offer a number of educational resources
that may be used by a broad sector of the educational
And finally, we have opened up a section called the
“Ecological Niche,” where we offer a series of
recommendations that may be implemented in daily
Our contribution, as we have pointed out, has been to
routines. These can be directly linked with Earth Charter
design a webpage on children’s education entitled,
principles 5, 6, 7 and 8, and related to the pillar
“Teaching Together,” which is linked to the Earth
“Ecological Integrity” in the Earth Charter.
Lessons learned
The following are excerpts of testimonials from the
Toy Fair registration book.
This project teaches students about the virtue of
collaborative work between faculty members, and about
Promising, congratulations; what has caught my
the possibility to be able to make knowledge available
attention is the fact that the children have felt more
to all those who might need it. This is thanks to the
attracted to the workshops and the collaborative
modern-day technological means at hand.
games, than to the exchange of toys itself.
3. Toy Fair
It appears to be a wonderful idea, because many
parents like myself were unaware of what sort of
The objective of this proposal was to set up a Toy Fair
toys were most suitable for the development of our
(featuring non-warlike, non-sexist toys), for children in
children; the idea of a toy exchange is also very
several schools in the city of Granada. This experience
good, and if we were to adopt this practice of
has been carried out with over 200 students every year.
exchange, we would also be finding promising
Its mission is to promote a culture of non-violence and
alternatives to a consumer society.
peace (Earth Charter principles 14, 15 and 16) among
children and teachers.
Lessons learned
Methodological Aspects
This project, like previous ones, teaches students about
the virtues of collaborative work, not only among those
The Toy Fair is designed to offer used toys - in good
students organizing and carrying out the event, but also
shape, that are non-warlike or sexist - to children. This
among faculty peers submitting proposals to the
exchange is made possible through the donations of
different workshops. These kinds of activities help in the
toys and in-kind donations by students of the Faculty. All
practical application of education for sustainable
the toys left over from the fair are donated to needy
development by disseminating the principles of non-
schools and NGOs.
violence and peace in Pillar 4 of the Earth Charter
(Democracy, Non-violence and Peace), to children in
In addition, complementary recreational activities, such
the early stages of childhood.
as workshops and games, were carried out by the
students. These were aimed at the children of the
invited schools, where teachers and parents are
provided with a detailed description of the features that
a good toy should have, as well as the educational toys
most suitable to children of every age group.
Experience in Sensorial
Conscience, developed by
Professor Alfonso Fernández
This activity on sensorial conscience in nature was
carried out during the first quarter of the 2006–2007
term (October–January) in the subject area of
Philosophy in Education, as part of the Degree Course
of Pedagogy. During the second quarter (mid-February
– mid-June), this activity was conducted in the subject
area of Peace Education, within the specialization of
Teaching and Child Education. Both are subjects of the
Faculty of Educational Science at the University of
Project - The Magic of Science.
We are aware that the learning process, as normally
conceptualized within the formal realm, is mainly
focused on cognitive aspects. Although essential, these
do not exhaust, by any means, all learning possibilities.
It is fundamental to involve the three basic dimensions
of the individual: affective, cognitive and active.
experienced, following it and allowing it to be what it is.
It is not about rejecting what we dislike, nor selecting
what we like, but rather adopting a sense of detached
impartiality. Thus, our attention is conditioned in the
least possible way by our thoughts, memories,
experiences, affability, rejection, and prejudice, making
our observation a more realistic experience.
The objective of this practice was to give students in
both subjects an experience of discovery – of affective
This observation requires a recovery of the senses,
closeness with nature through their senses – and
although not in a disjointed form, but rather as a
establish a more personal connection with nature
complete movement filled with sensitivity. So, it is not
through this contact. For the most part, adults detach
only about perceiving with your sight, hearing or touch,
themselves from this sensitive world and from the
but with all the senses intertwined. When you look at
personal experiences it implies. However, children have
the world with that immense sensitivity and with all the
a conscience that is less dominated by words, and are
senses wide awake, there is an extraordinary sensation
therefore more capable of connecting with their senses.
of energy, of beauty.
For this reason, students need to have a direct experience
of what sensorial conscience is all about, and to value for
Sensitivity is a flourishing of the senses, which is a highly
themselves its educational potential. This serves to prove
vulnerable condition. But we lose this vulnerability in the
how easy and rewarding this technique can be.
modern-day world of noise, brutality, triviality and
superficiality in which we live. We have a natural
In order to attain these objectives of eliminating, insofar
tendency to become de-sensitized to the world around
as possible, the discrepancies between information
us. We don’t really look; we just glance in a superficial
(which increases quickly in quantity and availability) and
and quick manner, without wasting too much energy.
a personal and social commitment to a sustainable way
The result is boredom when all that we see is what we
of life, it is useful to briefly describe the methodological
expect to see. This bogs down our sensorial conscience
aspects of this activity.
and it becomes extremely impoverished.
Methodological aspects
Watching without speaking, without judging, without
assessing, the silence of the mind emerges naturally and
First, the students were provided with information about
with ease. Silence surfaces when there is profound
sensorial conscience.
The practice of sensorial
attention, and the other way around, attention becomes
conscience involves attention and observation, not only
more profound when there is silence. This proves that
from the senses, but also towards our own inner reality.
there are different degrees of conscience or sensorial
Sensorial conscience does not require intellectual
contemplation, concentration, or analysis, but, rather, it is
about raising direct consciousness - not through ideas or
After sharing these ideas, the students were asked to
concepts, but through the dynamic sensorial experience
put them into practice in nature, and to prepare a
itself. For this reason, it is not about thinking about the
written report that was later discussed in class. A total of
world, about seeing it through words and through labels
214 students completed the exercise, 43 of them from
of any kind, but quite simply it is to see the world, feel
Philosophy in Education, and the remainder from Peace
it, listen to it, and touch it – to taste the unique flavour
Education. The same teacher was in charge for both
of the sensorial.
subject areas.
Sensorial conscience is about opening up the
conscience to what it is, flowing with what is being
The impact of the exercise is reflected in the
testimonials below, selected from the reports
This experience was published in the magazine Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, edited by the OEI, in its edition nº 43/3
of 25-06-07 with the title: Incorporation of the emotional element in the initial training of teachers. An experience for the development
of the sensorial conscience. Authors: Alfonso Fernández Herrería and Mª del Carmen López López, professors at the University of
Granada. The entire piece is on the Internet, in PDF format.
written by the students:
sense of educational disenchantment. By being truly
comprehensive, education will also be healthy,
When I opened my eyes I felt an inner peace which
satisfactory, and self-fulfilling, and not unhealthy and
made me even feel sorry I hadn’t experienced this
discouraging, as it is today.
before. Then, I observed everything around me in
a different way. Its beauty was overwhelming.
From this experience, we can also gauge its efficacy in
going straight to the core of personal change: through
The beauty was such that my roaming eyes did not
values, profound attitudes, and experiences that
know which way to look, ready to grasp every
motivate individuals to truly get involved without having
image and safeguard it like a treasure. The
to create distractions for the lack of motivation. Quite the
mountains rose majestically before me and I felt
opposite, these are experiences that students have felt
very small before such grandeu… How could we
the desire to replicate regardless of any evaluation.
fail to see such perfection?... I really felt, and feel,
privileged and grateful to the Universe for allowing
Through this experience, it has been possible to restore
me to enjoy its magnificence and perfect
the connection between human beings and their natural
symphony. Thank you.
surroundings; to eliminate the sense of feeling
detached, disoriented, and uncommitted towards the
I could hear the swift rippling of the water,
environment; and to experience an affectionate
flowing… I decided to sit down for a while, facing it.
relationship of empathy, friendship, fraternity, and even
There on the ground, I could feel the coolness and
‘blending’ with nature. Individuals who undergo this
dampness of the soil penetrate my body… I
process will never harm the environment, or any other
remained there gazing at that stream… Time stood
human being, because this closeness involves values
still and for a moment there, I felt like I was water.
such as care, respect, recognition, and gratitude towards
the natural world. This has been reflected in students’
The above excerpts offer proof of the real and profound
writings, and even more so, in classroom discussion – a
impact – the amazement – that can emerge from the
whole constellation of ethical and aesthetic values,
perceptive recreation of natural surroundings and
which constitute the core of a sustainable way of life, as
spaces, which are in many cases familiar. This can also
stated in the Earth Charter. With this heightened
emerge from putting the student face to face with a
sensorial consciousness, it is then more appropriate to
reality that does not display all of its richness merely
think about intellectual learning, since it is easier to
through the intellectual and rationalistic perspective to
become familiar with what we love than with what was
which we have grown so accustomed via formal
almost indifferent to us.
Contact information:
Lessons learned
This activity allows students to experiment with other
Alfonso Fernández Herrería
Email: [email protected]
affective, emotional, and spiritual, that is, those areas
that have almost been forgotten in traditional
educational practice. And it is precisely within them that
José Luis Conde
Email: [email protected]
the key to success for any comprehensive learning
resides. If we wish for an authentic education, we must
be able to overcome partial learning strategies. Either
we embrace previously forgotten dimensions of the
individual, or we will continue to reproduce the current and
National University, Costa Rica
An Integral Approach towards Sustainability:
Experiences of the National
University of Costa Rica and
the Centre for General Studies
Alicia Jiménez,54 and Edwin Cedeño, Flor Salas,
Francisco San Lee Campos, Geraldy Peña, Heidy Vega,
Nancy Sánchez, and Rafael A. Zamora55
The National University of Costa Rica (UNA) is committed to putting the
principles of the Earth Charter into practice in its campus policies and
administration, its academic activities, and its extension projects. The UNA
has more than eleven years of experience using and promoting the Earth
Charter to instil within students and professors a sense of belonging within
the broader global community, and a sense of responsibility for present and
future generations. The UNA is also actively involved in supporting
educational initiatives under the framework of the United Nations Decade
of Education for Sustainable Development.
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
Centre for General Studies, National University of Costa Rica
strong humanist vision, and in particular, emphasize the
Environmental policy and
management plan
importance of building a sustainable and ecologically
harmonious earth community.
The Sustainable Campus Programme is one of the key
action areas of the National University of Costa Rica’s
Many of the courses offered by the Centre have
environmental policy, established in 2003. The central
objective of the Programme is to implement an
approaches and use the Earth Charter as a general
integrated and sustainable system for waste disposal,
framework and ethical reference. Some of the courses
resource water treatment and energy conservation at
incorporating the Earth Charter include:
the University. This Programme operates through the
involvement of students, professors and administrative
• Environmental ethics
staff in a range of activities aimed at minimizing
• Values, the environment and sustainability of life
environmental degradation on campus.
• Socio-ecological vulnerability and risk
In 2007, two specific projects were launched as part of
• Artistic expression and the environment
the Programme: The Participatory Management Plan, for
• Culture of peace
improving solid waste disposal, and the Action Plan, for
• Health and the environment
minimizing and safely handling the disposal of
• Theatre, humanism and society
dangerous and toxic materials. Faculty members from
• Science, humanism, the environment and
management in Costa Rica
the schools of Environmental Science and Chemistry
sustainability of life
have been in charge of spearheading these two projects.
• Sustainable livelihoods
• Natural resources, culture and sustainability
Programme has been the construction of a residual
Extension projects
water treatment plant. These are almost nonexistent in
Costa Rica due to high infrastructure costs. Nevertheless,
The National University of Costa Rica operates
the University applied for a loan in order to carry out the
approximately 256 extension projects, some of which
construction of the water treatment station – a
have drawn upon the Earth Charter as a key reference
testament to the commitment of university officials to
point. One such project in conservation has been carried
put into practice the principles of sustainability.
out over the past four years by Professor Mayela
Cascante, Dean of the Centre for General Studies, in
Academic courses at the Centre for
General Studies, UNA
collaboration with several professors of the Centre, in
the region of Bolsón de Santa Cruz de Guanacaste. This
region is seeking to preserve and promote local culture
The National University of Costa Rica offers a range of
and ecological integrity despite a massive surge in
courses that incorporate the Earth Charter into the
tourism. To contribute to this aim, the University
curriculum. However, the Centre for General Studies is
coordinators have drafted a document outlining a set of
particularly active in delivering course content aimed at
ethics, based on the Earth Charter, to underlie and
analyzing the principles and the diverse dimensions of
sustain the project.
sustainability in the present-day context through an
ethical perspective.
Another interesting extension project was undertaken by
the acting Vice-Rector of Extension Projects, Elizabeth
Every year, approximately 3,000 first-year students enrol
Ramírez. She developed educational programmes
in courses offered by the Centre, in such subjects as art,
designed to empower members of rural communities
science and technology, social sciences, philosophy and
living in Río Cuarto de Grecia and Costa de Pájaros,
the humanities. The courses are characterized by a
Puntarenas, who had been negatively affected by the
foster a greater awareness amongst first-year students
initiatives. The University’s extension project drew on the
about environmental and social problems, at national
and global levels. And, in her course entitled “Natural
consciousness and confidence levels of the local
resources, culture and sustainability,” Professor Nancy
communities, and to examine economic alternatives
Sánchez utilizes participatory methodologies, such as
that might help to alleviate their poverty.
projects with local communities, to develop within her
students a sense of environmental responsibility and
commitment. The main lesson is that finding solutions
Methodological aspects ~ the
Centre for General Studies courses
The National University of Costa Rica grants its faculty
members the freedom to select the content and
methodologies of the courses they teach. As a result, a
wide range of practices has emerged among teaching
staff about how to incorporate Earth Charter principles
and the notion of sustainability into the academic
curriculum. The following descriptions are a sampling of
those approaches used by UNA faculty.
Incorporating ethics and values into
academic content
The Centre for General Studies offers a variety of
courses incorporating an ethical dimension to the
analysis of sustainable development issues. This is an
innovative pedagogical approach, as it encourages
students to reflect on the concrete impact of societal
to modern-day environmental crises requires changing
our ways of thinking, as well as promoting the values of
solidarity, respect and collaboration. In this way, each
person can begin to make a personal contribution to
solving collective problems.
Developing participatory processes
conducive to knowledge creation
For the vast majority of professors at the Centre for
General Studies, it is crucial that education go beyond
the transmission of knowledge and memorization;
learning should entail processes in which the student is
directly engaged and involved. An open and trusting
learning environment generally facilitates student
participation in class discussions, especially in situations
where it is clear that all points of view are respected and
Promoting respect towards elders
values on the path of development, technological
advances and environmental crises in the modern-day
Sustainability begins when the intergenerational
context. For example, the course “Values, environment
process is no longer viewed as a rupture, but as
and sustainability of life” seeks to “promote values that
continuity. This premise is taken seriously by several
enable students to convince and commit themselves to
professors at the Centre for General Studies, who
actions geared towards the recovery, conservation and
require their students to develop and offer workshops,
protection of the environment in Costa Rica and on
short courses and other innovative activities for senior
planet Earth.” According to Professor Heidy Vega, it is
citizens. In addition, elders are invited to prepare
important to incorporate ethics into foundation courses
educational initiatives for young people. For example, in
in order to instil within students a sense of respect and
the course “Environment and Health,” Professor
responsibility - values that every human being should
Geraldy Peña examines the historical involvement of
practice in his/her relationship with society, and in
our elders in the management of natural resources for
particular with nature and future generations.
food production. She incorporates personal narratives
and biographical anecdotes of senior citizens, and
According to Professor Flor Salas, the integration of
encourages students to relate those experiences to
values and ethics into course content has helped to
their present-day context.
Providing practical experiences to promote
the internalization of ‘sustainability’
Participating in service and research in
local communities
There is a general consensus among the faculty of the
Various courses offered by the Centre for General
Centre that one of the most effective means of
Studies feature a fieldwork component where students
transmitting and implementing the Earth Charter
and local community members participate in the
principles is to encourage real-life engagement between
organization and execution of an event, project or
students and local community members. Many of the
activity. In Professor Francisco San Lee Campos’ courses,
Centre’s courses include methodologies that require
for instance, he promotes “…learning activities that have
analyses of the environmental, social and economic
an impact within the university campus and in local
problems faced by local communities, drawing upon the
communities.” Some initiatives undertaken in his
Earth Charter as a framework for action.
courses to realize the principles of the Earth Charter
include: campaigning for recycling, reforestation and
energy conservation; protesting against specific cases of
environmental degradation; promoting eco-friendly
products and causes; raising awareness about dengue
fever; and developing eco-art and eco-murals.
Professor Edwin Cedeño also uses art as a means of
raising awareness of sustainable development issues.
He encourages students along with rural inhabitants of
various fieldwork sites, to enact skits and theatrical
productions relating to situations of personal and
indigenous communities has also become an important
UNA CEG student working with kindergarten children.
way to re-connect students with values of spirituality and
communion with nature.
Linking coursework with the Centre’s
extension projects
The Centre for General Studies has expressed a
particular interest in involving students in its extension
projects. This is an effective means of educating the
student population, and, by extension, disseminating
knowledge among their peers. The project mentioned
earlier, carried out by Professor Mayela Cascante in the
district of Bolsón, Guanacaste, is a case in point. In this
project, students actively contribute to a range of
activities related to the health and preservation of the
history, culture, and environment of the region. Several
professors in the Centre for General Studies are also
involved in the wider community by sharing their
In order to generate public interest in waste management over the
past three years, the Centre for General Studies, in collaboration
with the Schools of Geography and Environmental Science, has
been organizing a waste disposal campaign every October in the
central district of Heredia.
knowledge, expertise and experiences outside the UNA
sphere, through lectures and workshops held at offcampus educational centres, community development
associations, and urban municipalities.
Using the Earth Charter as a
methodological tool
In courses such as “Environmental ethics,” “Values,
environment and sustainability of life” and “Natural
resources and sustainability,” the Earth Charter
The course “Vulnerability, society and environment”
constitutes the main reference point for analyzing
draws on the Earth Charter to explore the existing
current social and environmental challenges on the
relationship between socio-ecological vulnerability and
local, national and global level. According to
risk management. As such, the objectives are to critically
Professor Geraldy Peña, the Earth Charter has
examine and raise awareness of key problems that
helped her to approach environmental topics from a
threaten the sustainability of different regions across
more holistic perspective. For example, in one of
Costa Rica, while adopting a holistic perspective.
her courses entitled “Health and the environment,”
the Charter has served as a key starting point for
In the course “A culture of peace,” ongoing references
reflecting, analyzing and discussing this inter-
are made to the Earth Charter in discussing a range of
disciplinary topic, particularly as it relates to quality of
social, economic and environmental issues. Course
participants have also visited schools in remote areas to
gauge the living situation of children from less privileged
Professor Flor Salas begins her course on
environmental ethics by providing a general
historical overview of the Earth Charter, and by
Example of a group activity
using the Earth Charter ~
focusing on its Preamble. Students are then asked to
Professor Francisco San Lee Campos, UNA
Charter, to select a text related to the document,
engage in a more indepth reading of the Earth
and to answer the following questions:
What do you think about the text that you have
1. Form groups to discuss the mission and vision
just read, and how does it relate to the
that we might have as human beings
environmental and social problems in your
belonging to a community, an institution
and/or the broader web of life.
2. Ask each group to identify three main
problems that need to be urgently addressed
in order to fulfill this mission and vision.
3. Invite the participants to write down the
• How does the text relate to the Earth Charter?
• Prior to this class, did you know about the Earth
• What might be the ‘added-value potential’ of the
Earth Charter in your community?
values that might guide them to realize their
mission and vision.
4. Ask each group to consider the question,
Lessons Learned
“What are the actions required to accomplish
the mission, and who might help to facilitate
According to Professor Heidy Vega, the participatory
the action plan?”
methodologies adopted and promoted by the Centre
5. All of the above should be discussed in
for General Studies have paved the way for more
groups and common positions should be
fulfilling and rewarding learning experiences. Students
are encouraged to become actors in their own learning
6. Distribute the Earth Charter to the participants
process, to explore their potential, and to develop their
and ask them to determine which values that
creativity. This model goes beyond the traditional
they identified relate directly or indirectly to
conception of education, in which the teacher is viewed
the Charter and its principles.
as the sole generator of knowledge. Through
participatory research methods and fieldwork carried out
in local communities, students develop the skills
Institutional efforts to minimize the discrepancy
required to independently identify research problems
between academic theories taught in classes and the
and propose potential solutions to those problems.
policy-making realities of the University Administration
have helped clarify and change the attitudes and culture
Practical activities are generally considered central to
of the university community.
enhancing the teaching-learning process. It is also
recommended that students develop their own research
As noted, the National University of Costa Rica has used
problems from relevant research settings. Although
the Earth Charter as a theoretical framework in
professors can serve as a guide and facilitator during the
extension projects and selected courses, particularly in
process, they should never impose ways of thinking on
the Centre for General Studies. Some of the professors
their students.
from the Centre have recognized the potential use of
the Charter to undertake a holistic and contextual
analysis of our global and local realities. The Earth
Charter has been such a useful framework for many
courses that the Centre for General Studies decided to
design a course specifically about the Charter. During
the semester-long duration of the course, students are
invited to carry out an indepth reflection of the
document and put its principles into practice.
Experiential learning activities have also been promoted
as part of the self-learning process in the Centre’s
courses. The transformative effect of learning through
real-life experiences and reflecting on values and ethics
Reforestation project done by CEG students in Puerto JesusGuanacaste.
can be seen through the concrete actions of students,
According to Professor Geraldy Peña, working with the
participatory courses or undertaking fieldwork who have
Earth Charter also enables the use of theory in order to
already become (or are planning to be involved) in
more effectively engage with our surroundings. More
community service in their community, workplace, or
specifically, students can use the Charter as a tool to
study institution.
such as the significant number of those enrolled in
express their different perspectives, raise consciousness
within and among peers, and put their ideals into
practice through an innovative and participatory
Contact information:
approach. It is important to note that in general, on the
basis of the University’s experiences, those students
coming into contact with the Earth Charter have become
more conscious, critical and objective, as the Charter
serves as a channel for reflection on modern issues
from a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective.
At the same time, in addition to incorporating the Earth
Charter in campus policies, courses, and projects,
another key mission of UNA is to realize the principle of
sustainability in various aspects of campus life. The
previously mentioned Sustainable Campus Programme
has been specifically designed to achieve this aim.
Professor Mayela Cascante Fonseca
Centre for General Studies
Conservation Effort for the Region of
Santa Cruz and Carrillo, Guancaste
National University of Costa Rica
Email: [email protected]
Francisco SanLee Campos
Centre for General Studies
National University of Costa Rica
Email: [email protected]
Florida Gulf Coast University, United States
Infusing the Earth Charter into Research
and Curriculum:
One American University’s
Peter Blaze Corcoran and A. James Wohlpart 56
The region in which the university will be located combines population
growth in a geographically constrained area, the Gulf of Mexico to the
west and Lake Okeechobee to the east, with a unique and sensitive
environment. Building on a strong programme at the undergraduate
level, the university will have the opportunity to ultimately develop a
centre for environmentally oriented graduate programmes and
research. (State of Florida. State University System of Florida. Ten Year
Development Plan for a New University in Southwest Florida.
Report 2-3. Board of Regents: November 20, 1992.)
Professors at Florida Gulf ast University, United States
The founding mission statement of Florida Gulf Coast
One of the ways the founding academic deans created
University, located in Southwest Florida, recognized the
to fulfil this ambitious ethical principle was to establish a
environmental sensitivity of the land and the controversy
common academic experience in environmental
associated with the creation of a university in the region.
education. “The University Colloquium: A Sustainable
Written before the site of the campus was determined,
Future” is a course required for graduation at Florida Gulf
it offers an insightful premonition. The agreement to
Coast University for all of our students. It is an
build the University in the middle of land that was, up to
that time, undeveloped, ultimately led to the explosion
designed to explore the concept of sustainability as it
of housing developments, the creation of shopping
relates to a variety of considerations and forces globally
malls and business parks, and the widening of roads
and locally in Southwest Florida. In particular, the course
and canals. While the campus plan included very high
provides a sense of environmental, social, ethical,
standards for ecological restoration, the land around the
historical, scientific, economic, and political influences
university had only to meet the much lower county
and includes an important field component.
standards. As a result, the waterways that were created
on campus to restore the historical water flow are dry,
The road to environmental sustainability in universities is
and the campus itself, with its native landscaping, is
almost always a rocky one, and the idea of infusing the
surrounded by gated communities with exotic plants
curriculum, beyond the Colloquium, with sustainability
and large water fountains.
has proven stubbornly difficult. This has been true even
with motivated faculty and strong support of deans and
Such are the unintended, but predictable, consequences
even, most surprisingly, at a new university with a
of unconstrained development in a country whose
birthright commitment to a broad definition of
economic growth is exalted above other values. At the
environmental responsibility and unbounded by
same time, and ironically as a result of the building of
tradition. To assist in realizing this institutional dream,
the campus on environmentally sensitive lands, the
and the larger dream of a sustainable Earth, we have
University has worked hard to teach other values, those
turned to the inspiration and integrated vision of the
of environmental protection and sustainability. The
Earth Charter. We promote it as an aspiration to envision
recently updated mission of Florida Gulf Coast University
sustainability in research and curricula. Further, as the
states that the institution “practices and promotes
University grows, we see the need to creatively imagine
environmental sustainability,” which becomes translated
the infusion of environmental sustainability into our
into the learning goal of ‘ecological perspective’ in the
wider culture. To do so we have established an
classroom. As stated in one of the University Guiding
environmental education research capacity through the
creation of an academic centre.
Informed and engaged citizens are essential to the
creation of a civil and sustainable society.
responsible self grounded in honesty, courage, and
democratic ideals.
Through service learning
requirements, the University engages students in
community involvement with time for formal
reflection on their experiences.
Integral to the
University’s philosophy is instilling in students an
environmental consciousness that balances their
economic and social aspirations with the imperative
for ecological sustainability.
Prof. Peter Blaze Corcoran in class.
The Centre for Environmental and Sustainability
The goal of the Terry Tempest Williams Student
Education at Florida Gulf Coast University nurtures and
Dialogue, our second signature event, is to raise
emphasizes sustainability education at our institution.
awareness among Florida Gulf Coast University students
The mission of the Centre for Environmental and
and faculty about critical issues in our local region. The
Sustainability Education (the Centre) states that we
series focuses on sustainability and education for a
sustainable future, including our role as stewards of our
natural, cultural, social and political environments.
…toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and
Intended to spark youth activism and inspire the
peaceful future through scholarship, education, and
intellectual climate among the FGCU and Southwest
action. The Centre advances understanding and
Florida communities, the initiative fosters an open space
achievement of the goals of environmental and
for dialogue and student ownership of that dialogue.
The events have focused on the general topic of
educational research methods, emergent eco-
agriculture and ethics, with specific discussions of social
pedagogies, and educational philosophy and
justice, environmental health, conditions of labour to
practice based on ethics of care and sustainability.
produce food in America, and the humane treatment of
The Centre seeks to elevate the environmental
animals who serve as human food. The Earth Charter
mission of Florida Gulf Coast University and serve
the University community, the local community of
the Western Everglades and Barrier Islands, and the
wider community of scholars.
A major component of the Centre’s work is to bring
current scholars in environmental literature, religious
studies, and political science to campus to meet with
students and to deliver public lectures. Key areas of
emphasis include ethics, activism, and the literary arts.
The Centre promotes the Earth Charter in its signature
events, in institutionally-oriented research, and in what
we call Earth Charter scholarship.
Our signature events include the two lecture series for
the students, faculty, and staff at Florida Gulf Coast
University and for the public of Southwest Florida. The
addresses all these issues and is commonly referenced
in the panel discussions. Many of the issues raised in
the signature events are on the Centre’s modest agenda
of institutional research. For example, we are studying
and promoting humane and sustainable alternatives to
our corporate food system at the University.
Among other initiatives we have developed is a ‘Guide
to Eating Humanely and Sustainably with the Earth
Charter at Florida Gulf Coast University.’ The Earth
Charter provides an alternative to industrial agriculture
and the economic exploitation of labour and
environment, challenging us to “Adopt patterns of
production, consumption, and reproduction that
safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights,
and community wellbeing” (Principle 7). The Guide
aims to link Earth Charter ethics to sustainable ways of
Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture is our major event
drawing large crowds to our campus. The speakers
embody the contributions of Rachel Carson most
relevant to the Centre – public-policy based on sound
science and ethics; active participation of an
ecologically-literate citizenry; and appreciation of the
natural world through the literary arts and environmental
education. All of the lecturers have referenced the Earth
Charter in their talks, thereby building awareness and
reinforcing the relationship of the Earth Charter to key
issues of our time – climate change, sustainable living,
and religion and ecology, among others.
Homero Aridjis- Mexican Poet at Rachel Carson Distingued Lecture.
life and to assist in the development of a culture of
Press, Athens, Georgia forthcoming 2008), we co-edited
sustainability at our university and in the region.
as part of our work at the Centre in order to provide a
literary voice to the ethical principles outlined in the
Such a culture is supported by the decision of the interim
Earth Charter. The writers whose contributions are
president of the university to join the leadership circle of
collected in this book reflect upon the ethical dilemmas
the American College and University President’s Climate
that confront us and assist us in understanding the
Commitment that is a part of the Association for the
nature of the crisis before us. Their voice is part of a
Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
growing collection of voices calling for—and indeed
(AASHE). This initiative has bold ambitions and Florida
initiating—a cultural transformation from the Cenozoic
Gulf Coast University has a tradition of rhetorical
era to what Thomas Berry calls the Ecozoic era, a new
commitment to sustainability, without always following
period of mutually enhancing Earth-human relations. We
through. We seek to support the administration in truly
hope to advance Earth Charter scholarship through our
realizing the aim of reducing its carbon impact through
own research and writing and by bringing together the
the development of sustainable food systems, which are
small community of Earth Charter scholars and sharing
sensitive to transportation, methods of production, and
their research with the wider world.
food choices that are ‘lower on the food chain.’ We
believe significant carbon emissions savings can be
Along with advancing Earth Charter scholarship, we have
realized while advancing Earth Charter principles.
sought to infuse the Earth Charter into the curriculum at
Florida Gulf Coast University. Our efforts to bring a
As a part of this reinvigorated commitment to
sustainability on the part of the university, the Centre has
recently been invited to take the lead in developing a
green building on campus – one that was originally
planned to showcase sustainable building practices but is
now being re-imagined as a space where green
curriculum meets green architecture. We envision a
planning process and learning space based on Earth
Charter principles.
Our most significant area of Earth Charter related
research, along with essays and talks, is the publication
of two books. The first, The Earth Charter in Action:
Toward a Sustainable World (KIT Publishers,
discussion of ethics through the Earth Charter has
occurred at different levels – as a component in a
course, as an organizational framework for a course, and
as a unifying principle in a curriculum. As already noted,
the “University Colloquium: A Sustainable Future,” our
mandatory course in environmental education and
sustainable development, includes the Earth Charter as
a component to introduce students to a broad
understanding of sustainability. Students read and
discuss the Earth Charter in class and are then required
to write about the document in one of the five short
academic essays assigned in the course. It is often the
subject of a lively discussion as students and faculty
Amsterdam 2005), was co-edited with others and with
members read the principles and sub-principles
contributions from sixty-four writers from thirty-five
together and consider their value and its efficacy. This
nations. The book is a collection of over seventy
open-ended discussion is founded on strong critical and
thematic and descriptive essays inspired by the Earth
creative thinking skills.
Charter and demonstrating the rich diversity of its uses.
It points toward the many possibilities of future
Our first course to use the Earth Charter as an
utilization, including its ability to bridge the Islamic and
organizational framework is one that we team-teach.
Christian worlds and to work across the divide between
Environmental Literature, an interdisciplinary course in
the northern and southern hemispheres. Contributors
the Communication, English, and Environmental Studies
are practitioners, experts, and Earth Charter activists
programmes, considers the role of sustainability within
from around the world.
the humanities, focusing especially on exploring an
ethical perspective that promotes respect and care for
The second book, A Voice for Earth: American Writers
the community of life, ecological integrity, social and
Respond to the Earth Charter (University of Georgia
economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence, and
peace. We read several works – philosophical,
and daunting possibility presented to us as a challenge
theological, and political – through the lens of the Earth
by our Dean, Donna Price Henry. The incipient concept
Charter in order to open a space for a dialogue about
is to create an interdisciplinary, liberal arts programme
ethics and values; the Earth Charter acts as a touchstone
that considers the concept of sustainability broadly –
for our discussion and not as the defining ethical system
from the perspective of the natural sciences, the social
for the entire class. Ultimately, through the readings and
sciences, and the humanities and arts. A guiding concern
discussions in the course, each student works toward
in this curriculum might be the ethical dimension behind
developing his or her own personal ethics of
issues of sustainability, and the Earth Charter has been
sustainability. We expect students to read the Earth
discussed as a method for engaging this discussion. In
Charter with serious and intense questioning and invite
support of an effort such as this, the Centre for
and expect critical analysis of the principles outlined in
Environmental and Sustainability Education is developing
the document and in the other texts. The course
“A Guide to Teaching the Earth Charter at Florida Gulf
includes a service learning component which enables
the students to enact their ethics of sustainability,
suggestions for appropriate values education.
bringing them to life.
In conclusion, higher education presents particular
Furthermore, we look to consideration of the Earth
challenges for the use of the Earth Charter. First, one
Charter as a unifying principle in a curriculum. For
needs to make the case for materiality and relevance to
example, the University has committed to enhancing
the curriculum, and perhaps to research, depending on
education for sustainability through what is called, in the
the institutional ethos. Sustainability always takes place in
United States, a Quality Enhancement Programme
a particular context. The Earth Charter’s appeal to our
(QEP). A QEP, which is an institutional focus on a central,
university vision and mission of environmental
mission-driven area of the university for assessment and
sustainability helped us to accomplish this. Second,
improvement, is required for many universities across
because the Earth Charter is normative, it arouses
the United States for their accreditation. At Florida Gulf
concern about how values are taught and about whose
Coast University, the QEP, a five year project, focuses on
values are taught. These are vitally important questions to
the development of an ‘ecological perspective’ and
address in the tradition of academic freedom and critical
‘community awareness and involvement,’ two of our
inquiry. However, we believe that sustainability is the
unique university-wide learning goals. Our work during
great moral question of our time, the meta-narrative of
this period is to inculcate sustainability education across
the twenty-first century. And we believe it is a moral
our curriculum using such documents as the Earth
responsibility of universities to study and teach
Charter. One prime example of this work is in our first
sustainable living. Infusing the Earth Charter into research
year writing classes, required of all students; the faculty
and curriculum at Florida Gulf Coast University has
members are working to pilot key essays that deal with
helped us to assume this sober responsibility.
such topics as climate change, agricultural practices, and
social and environmental justice. In order to advance this
discussion in these classes, faculty members also use the
Contact information:
Earth Charter as an example of shared values that
advance sustainability. Ultimately, the goal is to work
Peter Blaze Corcoran
towards including these essays into a Composition
Professor, Florida Gulf Coast
Reader that is used at many institutions across the United
University and Earth Charter
Florida, USA
Finally, we are in the very early stages of conceptualizing
the Earth Charter as a core for a Liberal Studies major
offered in our College of Arts and Sciences. This is a bold
Email: [email protected]
Seychelles National Institute of Education
Integrating Education on
Sustainability into Teacher’s
Alicia Jiménez57 and Michele Martin58
The Seychelles National Institute of Education (NIE)59 is a post-secondary
institution responsible for the training and development of primary- and
secondary-school teachers. The NIE administers pre-service and in-service
programmes on a variety of subjects, and offers two mandatory 60 courses
in environmental education for sustainability, as part of the pre-service
teacher education programme. Professor Michele Martin is one of faculty
members in charge of the two courses, both of which use the Earth
Charter as a central part of the course curriculum. A crosscutting theme
developed in both courses, related to sustainability, is the interconnection
between social and ecological problems and their solutions.
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
Seychelles Institute of Education, Seychelles
The NIE is located in the Seychelles Islands, an archipelago on the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. The NIE does not
offer a degree in education (in fact, there are not any universities in the Seychelles) yet does offer pre- and in-service training for
the nation’s primary- and secondary-school teachers.
These courses were made mandatory in 2003, and had been offered as optional/elective since 1990.
The Seychelles National Institute of Education (NIE) is
The Earth Charter plays an important role in this
a post-secondary institution responsible for the training
course. It is used as a tool to help the students
and development of primary- and secondary-school
teachers. The NIE administers pre-service and in-service
environmental and social issues, and the need for
programmes on a variety of subjects, and offers two
environmental education to incorporate these
courses in environmental education for
Michele notes that because the
sustainability, as part of the pre-service teacher
courses are mandatory, that not all students enrolled
education programme. Professor Michele Martin is one
are particularly interested in environmental issues.
of faculty members in charge of the two courses, both
Instead, many are more interested in humanitarian
of which use the Earth Charter as a central part of the
issues, such as poverty reduction, and human and
course curriculum. A crosscutting theme developed in
gender rights. However, the Earth Charter provides
an entry point to pursue their passions for social
interconnection between social and ecological problems
issues, and then to start understanding that
and their solutions.
The two courses are: NEED01 Environmental
Education: Principles and Practice, and NEED02 –
Issues in Environmental Education. The objective of
NEED01 is to introduce the principles and practices of
environmental education, mostly through group work in
the classroom using experiential learning methods and
hands-on activities. The objective of NEED02 is to
provide an opportunity for students to plan and
implement an independently designed community
service project, thereby putting theory into practice.
Both courses are offered three-hours per week for nine
weeks. The participants are student teachers, mostly
young women between the ages of nineteen and
Activities in course NEED01.
twenty-one years old. Approximately 120 students from
a variety of disciplines take these courses each year.
The class spends one three-hour lesson discussing
and reflecting on the Earth Charter. They use
Methodological aspects
different methods to analyze and internalize the
Earth Charter; one of the most common is to
Course objectives and the role of the Earth
summarize one of the principles and present it to
the rest of the class in the form of a drama, song,
poem or drawing. (See Box 4). This has been a very
effective process and the Earth Charter’s aspirations
environmental concepts and principles (with
serve as a framework for defining environmental
reference to international charters and treaties),
education. During their teaching practicum, NEED01
local environmental education policy, resources for
teaching and learning, and in-classroom teaching
education into one of the lessons they teach, and
strategies. Much of the focus is on pedagogy,
are asked to relate this to the vision of the Earth
emphasizing student-centred and experiential
choose their own area of interest. The projects students
Box 4: The Earth Charter, interpreted by class DPT3A
have chosen focus on a range of ecological, social and
cultural issues. The Earth Charter is used as a basis for
the actions of students’ community service projects,
The protection of the environment is everybody’s
which are framed in terms of how they work towards
fulfilling the vision of the Earth Charter. Students select
The earth is a home for all living things.
One mistake from us can destroy us all.
Together we can overcome the challenges that may
It’s our duty to protect the environment in any way
we can!
Respect and Care for Life
and then research a local problem (issue), identifying
the relevant part(s) of the Earth Charter to which their
project corresponds. In their final report, students must
explain the relationship between their project and the
Earth Charter.
Description of teaching and learning style
Every form of life is precious.
In the NEED01 course, the content and issues
Accept them and prevent them from harm.
discussed are mostly set by the NIE. Student
Promote peace and harmony in the community.
participation is promoted through hands-on learning,
Give opportunities to fulfill our rights.
group work, field trips and learning and teaching
Preserve our environment for the future.
Ecology is Life
Let us protect it, safeguard it.
Do not abuse its resources.
The future generations need it.
Educate them and live longer.
In NEED02, students are more involved in deciding
on which issues to focus. In the third week of class,
students choose their group members and then
each group selects a different socio-ecological issue
to explore. After deciding on what issue to focus,
Social and Economic Justice
the students practice pedagogical approaches in
We all have the right to life.
their research and discussions, such as a problem-
Water, clean air, food, shelter, and safe sanitation
are what we need for healthy living.
method. In addition to identifying and researching
We, human beings, let’s unite with power
their issue, groups are responsible for deciding on
to bring reality to our human needs.
possible actions they could take to address or help
solve their issue or problem, and then evaluate and
Democracy, Non-violence and Peace
report on their work.
That must be the sound of a bomb.
It’s violence time!!! Run everybody!
Oh dearest Peace,
Save our souls from violence.
Come and help us
live in justice and harmony.
The NEED02 course is more action-oriented; the class
explores local socio-ecological problems through
community service-learning approaches. The students
used to receive a standard set of local issues to choose
from – such as waste, deforestation, habitat loss – but
the course has been redesigned so that students now
NIE Clean up campaign - Course NEED02.
This problem-solving method is very helpful to
It’s important to go outside. In NEED01 students
experiential learning process. The NEED02 students
spend a couple of sessions focusing on learning
Field trips
outside the classroom; sometimes it’s simply to go
implementing a service learning project so that later,
outside under a tree to present group-work, and
as teachers, they will know how it works and how
sometimes it’s more involved, such as exploring
they might use this approach with their own
students. Throughout the learning process, students
undertaken environmental audits of the school’s
have opportunities to share what they are learning
grounds, explored the living things found within the
and doing during the course with each other and
school compound, toured the environmental
their course teachers.
education resources available in their library and at
the environmental education unit at the Ministry of
An important thing to take into account when using
Education next door, and have visited the local
hands-on and community service-learning methods
is that there is a tendency to focus solely on local
UNESCO/UNEP CD Teaching for a Sustainable
issues. In her courses, Michele deals with this
Future has proven to be very helpful to plan and
tendency by making efforts to make deliberate
implement these types of activities.
linkages to local issues’ global context and to bring
what is happening in other countries into the
In addition to using the community service-learning
method, Michele Martin combines a variety of
teaching strategies and methods in her classes –
group work, discussions, field trips, games and visual
arts. The following are descriptions of some of the
techniques that Michele uses in her teaching.
Visual brainstorming
This exercise helps to address the meanings and
connections of different concepts. For example,
Field trip NEED02 course.
Michele uses it to help students analyze the wide
‘environment.’ Students come up to the classroom
Sometimes the students participate in choosing which
blackboard and use coloured chalk to create a
places to visit (these can coincide with their research
drawing of what the word brought to mind. The
projects), and sometimes the teacher decides,
result is a rich visual image that provokes critical
especially when students are not familiar with the local
discussion on what students included and what was
area, and when certain field trips would be of particular
left out – often more effective than using words.
benefit to their teacher formation process. In NEED01,
students complete one full-day trip, either to visit
Role play
another island, or to visit a natural area on the main
This activity simulates a type of ‘council of all beings’
island (where NIE is located). In NEED02, students also
that focuses on a specific environmental issue.
tend to go on additional field trips on their own, often to
Students choose a variety of human and non-
advance their research projects.
human roles to express their feelings, and the
challenging situations they face in real-life.
students to do critical reflections at the end of each
Students are introduced to games, such as those
class, whereupon they write about what they liked
from Joseph Cornell’s Sharing Nature with Children,
and learned and didn’t like about each session, and
and “Woolly Thinking” in Global Teacher, Global
why. In this way, students are challenged to think
Learning by Graham Pike and David Selby; which, in
actively and critically, and to express their own
Michele’s opinion, is a particularly excellent resource
and relevant to the Earth Charter, for example,
GloBingo. She also uses a variety of local resource
There are other ways students are involved in
materials (See Box 5).
making decisions during the courses. In NEED01
Michele asks for class input on a field trip site and in
Box 5: Education resources produced in
NEED02 students choose which issue they will
research, and which solutions and actions they will
take. One example of student decision-making that
Beaver, K. & C. Morel. (2003). Learning for
impacted the course was one group that decided to
Sustainable Living in Seychelles. Mahe: Nature
bring all of their projects together and hold an
Seychelles. (available at
“environmental festival” at the NIE.
Martin, M. (2001). Birds are brilliant! Activity
guide for primary teachers. Seychelles:
BirdLife Seychelles.
Inclusion and application of values
Although these courses are not explicitly valuesdriven, values certainly play a key role. The courses
focus on pedagogy and are designed to help
Martin, M. (2000). Guide to the wildlife of
student teachers learn to integrate environmental,
Cousin Island. Seychelles: BirdLife Seychelles.
social and economic aspects into their subjects once
Martin, M. & M. Gara (1999). Coastal and
they get into the school classroom. The courses
marine activity book. Seychelles: Wildlife
provide opportunities for students to examine their
Clubs of Seychelles.
own values and reflect on what kind of a teacher
Martin, M. (1994). The little green book for
schools. Seychelles: Ministry of Education and
Seychelles Ministry of Education (1994present). Enviro-News: Seychelles’
environmental education newsletter.
they hope to become. The courses also provide
opportunities for students to think about their
passions and to try to bring them into their teaching.
The Earth Charter plays a key role in these courses,
and getting familiar with the Charter’s values and
principles allows teacher and students to deepen
their understanding and reflection on sustainability.
Tirant, M. & M. Martin (1996). Environmental
education for sustainable development:
Evaluation of student performance
activity guide for primary teachers. Seychelles:
The NIE requires that students be assessed based
UNESCO / Seychelles Ministry of Education
on two major assignments. In NEED01 students are
and Culture.
assessed on a lesson they give on teaching practice,
and their critical reflections afterwards. The other
Interaction between teacher and learner
assignment is a student’s portfolio (journal) of
Given the methods used in her classes, Michele
critical thinking exercises. In NEED02, students are
does not spend much time lecturing. Her role is
assessed based on their environmental education
more like a facilitator of information and of the
portfolio, which includes weekly critical reflections,
exchange of ideas and she gives students many
an environmental autobiography, and a self-
opportunities to practice being ‘active thinkers.’ One
evaluation. The other assignment is their group
way she promotes critical thinking is by asking
service-learning project; students are assessed on
their project plan, the action they take, and a final
ecological ones; however, the opposite is also true,
especially among younger students. The Earth Charter
provides a great and unifying vision that has helped her
Actions and results from the learning
broaden her students’ focused interests.
In 2007, the NEED02 students organized an
When beginning a process for educating for sustainable
environmental festival which included displays
development, Michele notes that it is important to be
designed by students to depict and describe what
sensitive to, and take into account, each student’s
they had learned and achieved in their project,
interests. She uses the Earth Charter to help students
hands-on workshops and a variety show. The Earth
come to the understanding that social and ecological
Charter was the organizing framework for the
justice issues are deeply intertwined – problems,
projects and the festival. The festival featured six
causes, consequences and solutions. According to
student projects on various topics: invasive plants;
medicinal plants (especially natural contraceptives);
paper waste; packaging waste; promoting local,
By letting my students start with social justice issues
homemade drink and food alternatives to store
and then work on interconnections, I (and they)
bought (i.e. juices, snacks); and traditional Kreol
have found that they do actually care about
musical instruments.
Students also reported on
environmental issues, and they do want to do
actions their group had taken, including removing
something. This realization came out as a fairly
invasive creepers, and organizing a clean up in a
strong theme in the NEED02 students’ own self-
particular area to reduce the rat population. The
event opened with an exhibition, then workshops,
and closed with a variety show that included poems,
Using integrative approaches to education helps
songs, dances, traditional music, and storytelling –
promote holistic-thinking in students and makes the
all performed by students. The NEED02 students
educational experience as inclusive as possible. At the
invited students from other schools to attend the
NIE there is a continual learning process to keep
festival, and many schools sent student delegations.
improving teaching practices, and students’ feedback is
of great importance to that process.
Lessons learned
One of the limiting factors in promoting Education for
Sustainable Development has been that while teachers
are often asked to include aspects of sustainability in
Contact information:
their classes, many of them have not been trained to do
so. The NIE is working to address this situation by
Michele Martin
including two mandatory courses on environmental
Seychelles National Institute of
education for sustainability in their pre-service and in-
service teachers’ education programme.
Email: [email protected]
Michele Martin, teacher of the NIE’s environmental
education for sustainability courses, has found that it is
not always easy to address all aspects of sustainability in
class because students often have different interests
and passions. She has found that many of her students
are more passionate about social justice issues than
Yerevan State University, Armenia
The Earth Charter as a
pedagogical tool for
sustainability at Yerevan State
University, Armenia
Marina Bakhnova Cary 61
Professor Karine Danielyan 62 has been an educator all her life. She decided
to make ‘sustainable development’ – a highly disputable semantic novelty
in the early 90s – part of her personal teaching practice in 1994. She made
the hard decision to resign from her position as Environment Minister in
the first post-Soviet democratic government of independent Armenia, and
to return to academia, her former professional career. The decision cost
her many a sleepless night, as well as heated discussions with members
of the Armenian government and with her friends and colleagues. It was
a tough decision for her, as she had represented her country at the pivotal
Rio Summit in 1992, and was committed to the Agenda 21 document as a
blueprint for governance, planning and policy making.
Earth Charter Centre for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE, Costa Rica
Dr. Karine Danielyan is a Professor at Yerevan State University and the Chairperson of the Association for
Sustainable Human Development of the Republic of Armenia (the Association), an ECI Affiliate in Armenia.
Development of new educational
at the national universities. Professor Danielyan
contributed two chapters for that textbook, entitled
“Global environmental problems,” and “Sustainable
There were no educational materials on sustainable
Development.” Since 2003, this textbook has been the
development available in the entire post-Soviet territory
main educational publication in the Masters of Science
in early 90s, so Professor Karine Danielyan had to start
programmes in all of the departments of natural
from scratch. In 1994, she wrote a textbook, Theory and
sciences at Yerevan State University.
Practice of Sustainable Development, which later
became the foundation for a new university course with
Professor Danielyan’s students and alumni are also
the same name, taught by the faculty in the Department
involved in the development of educational materials.
of Geography at Yerevan State University. The book
They actively participated in the adaptation process of
became the first educational publication on sustainable
the “The Earth Charter for Children,” and created a
development in the country. It was not easy to convince
brochure of this that has been published in the
the administration of the university to introduce such a
Armenian, Russian and English languages. The Earth
new, revolutionary pedagogical approach to a traditional
Charter for Children is a three-page brochure, written in
and rigid education process, but Karine would not take
the poetic and instructive style of a fairy tale, and quotes
‘no’ for an answer; thus her first textbook was formally
the beautiful words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The
adopted as an official educational publication.
Little Prince: “…get up in the morning, wash yourself,
tidy up yourself, and right after that, tidy up your planet.”
In 1998, Professor Danielyan participated in a workshop
for the post-Soviet countries-in-transition about the
In simple and clear language, the Earth Charter for
principles of sustainable development and the Earth
Children brochure teaches children that:
Charter, which was held in Moscow. This was her first
encounter with the document, one which would have a
Wisdom comes when you realize power brings not
big impact on both her personal and professional life.
only rights, but also great responsibilities. And, first of
She thought it was very inspiring and comprehensive,
all, we have the responsibility to our brothers ¬–
and, in 1999, she decided to include an additional
yes, our brothers and sisters on this planet – the
chapter on the Earth Charter in her textbook. Karine also
animals and plants.
integrated the Earth Charter into the content of her
university course on sustainable development.
Together with beautiful pictures and posters drawn by
students and pupils, The Earth Charter for Children is
Since 1994, her textbook, Theory and Practice of
very popular in Armenian schools and kindergartens.
Sustainable Development, has been re-printed three
times: with the help of United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) office in Armenia; the Earth
Council in 1999; and the UNDP office in Armenia again,
in 2000. Karine is happy to see that her textbook has
been in high demand over the past decade and is still
widely used by many universities in Armenia, Georgia,
Belarus, the Russian Federation and the countries of
Central Asia in their own courses on sustainable
In 2003, the UNDP office in Armenia commissioned
Yerevan State University to develop a new textbook,
Human Development, in the Armenian language for use
The Earth Charter for Children in Armenian, Russian and English languages.
Methodological aspects of
the university course on
Earth Charter to discuss their part within each group.
After discussion, all the students present their part, thus
sharing their key findings and reflections with the whole
group, which initiates a wider class discussion. Professor
Danielyan explains that this approach helps her students
Professor Danielyan began teaching her new course
to get to know the Earth Charter text very thoroughly.
with only two hours available per semester, which later
After this activity, she offers to hold discussions on
became four hours. Presently, there is a complete 72-
the following themes:
hour course available for 50-60 third year students in
the baccalaureate programme of the Department of
• The implementation of the Earth Charter
Geography, and an additional 25-30 students coming
principles in the modern world (problems and
from the baccalaureate programme in the Department
roadblocks, possibilities to overcome them,
of Chemistry, every year. There is also a 170-hour
prospects for the future)
course for second year students of the Masters of
• The implementation of the Earth Charter
Science programme.
principles in the Republic of Armenia (problems
and roadblocks, possibilities to overcome them,
The courses offer an opportunity to analyze, reflect and
discuss the principles of universal ethics and their
prospects for the future)
The connection of the Earth Charter with global
importance for re-shaping our lifestyles in a sustainable
conventions signed by Armenia; as well as its
Development Goals
Professor Danielyan also supervises two to three
• The ways each of the students can use the Earth
students who are writing their graduation thesis papers
Charter in their daily lives and as professional
per annum, as well as students who are writing term
educators in the future.
papers on sustainable development that always have
Earth Charter ethics integrated into them.
From university auditoriums to school
She starts her course by handing out the Earth Charter
Most of Professor Danielyan’s university graduates
brochure (in Armenian, Russian and English languages)
become schoolteachers and she made it a rule to
to the students, so that they can read this at home. In
know as much as possible about their professional
her classroom, discussion is encouraged. To facilitate
lives. While it is much easier for her to keep in
practical exercise, she breaks students into four working
constant contact with those who find jobs in the
groups in accordance with the four main pillars of the
capital – contacts are more difficult to sustain with
alumni who work in distant rural regions of Armenia
– she systematically shares with them the latest
materials for use in their schools and invites them to
participate in Association activities.
Thus, the project “Earth Charter for Children” started
in November 2000 during the Regional Earth
Charter Workshop held by the Earth Council in
Yerevan by its’ late director, Maximo Kalaw Jr., and
the Newly Independent States (NIS) Area Manager,
Association. It included an art exhibition, “Earth, Our
The oath of the University freshmen.
Home.” The children were inspired to present
pictures, drawings, and posters illustrating one of the
society and democracy; human rights; education
Earth Charter principles that had impressed them
most. Awards were given to the winners, but no
international relations. The Association has nine
participant was left unnoticed.
branches in different regions of Armenia. The main
goals of ASHD are to raise awareness and openness
A school theatre play was written by senior high
to the notion of sustainability, and to promote
school students and teachers, called “Earth Charter
changes in people’s lifestyles, behaviours and the
Saves the Beautiful Earth,” which was also first
influences on decision-making processes from
presented at the Regional Workshop in November
within key groups of Armenian society.
2000. The school pupils and their parents made
attractive costumes and presented the participants
There are many educators among the ASHD
of the workshop with beautiful songs and poems
members, who work at universities and schools;
devoted to Earth, Nature and a brave knight named
most of them integrate the Earth Charter into their
the Earth Charter – who saves the Earth from
teaching practices.
disaster by showing people how to protect and love
Earth and each other. This performance became
very popular and is still being presented by the
students of different schools in Yerevan and in other
Educating for Sustainable Development
with the Earth Charter in non-formal
Armenian cities. There have also been several
Since 1998, the Association has been publishing
national contests for the best children’s art work,
poems, songs and plays devoted to sustainable
understanding of the concept of sustainable
development and the Earth Charter, held by the
development. Much of this effort is undertaken
Association with active participation from Professor
using the Earth Charter as an instrument and as an
Danielyan’s students.
ethical framework that clarifies the vision of a
sustainable society. They also disseminate the
The Association for Sustainable Human
Development of the Republic of Armenia
Although Professor Danielyan had worked on these
governmental officials, women and local authorities,
issues in earlier years, the Association for
scientists and academia, and local communities in
Sustainable Human Development (ASHD or the
rural areas.
Association) was officially registered in April 1996.
The ASHD Coordination Council consists of 21
The Association also uses the national mass media
members, among them representatives of the
as a very important tool for their educational efforts.
Armenian Geographical Society, the Armenian
Professor Danielyan, and other members of the
Republican Women's Union, The League of
Association, make regular public appearances on
Armenian Women, the Fund against the Law
national television and radio programmes, publish
Arbitrariness, The Scientists Union, the Armenian
articles in national and local newspapers and
Statistical Computer Society, as well as professionals
magazines, sharing their thoughts on the Earth
Charter and explaining its importance for present
and future generations.
economists, psychologists, wri¬ters, journalists and
engineers, among others.
The principles of sustainable development and Earth
Charter ethics were the main themes at several
There are six commissions in the Association
high-level roundtables held at the Armenian
working on issues of: environment; economy;
Parliament, in governmental agencies and in the
Armenian Constitutional Court. In these settings,
Professor Karine Danielyan shares Earth Charter
brochures and facilitates discussions on the
importance of changing government and public
approaches to the very concept of ‘development’ –
urging the use of the Earth Charter as a framework
and guiding document to steer development in a
sustainable direction.
1. The Sustainable Human Development Concept:
Theory and Practice. Dr. Karine Danielyan,
Yerevan, First edition, 1996. Second edition,
1998. Third edition, 2000.
2. Armenia from the viewpoint of the Sustainable
Human Development Concept Valued by
NGOs. Edited by Dr. Karine Danielyan, Yerevan,
‘Lusakn,’ 1997. (Armenian, Russian).
It should be mentioned that, influenced by the Earth
3. Towards Sustainable Development of Armenia.
Charter ethics, two participants of these roundtables
2 volumes. Edited by Dr. Karine Danielyan and
later wrote the book, “The Guide for Higher
Dr. Lemvel Valesyan, Yerevan, 1999, (Armenian,
Education, The Ecological Individual Culture” (in
Russian, English).
Armenian); the full text of the Earth Charter is
Volume 1. Basic Materials and Experience of
included in this book. One of the authors of this
Developed Countries (84 pages).
publication is a former Deputy of the Parliament and
Volume 2. Experience and Problems of
an incumbent Rector of the Polytechnic University of
Countries in Transition (100 pages).
Yerevan, and the other author is a professor at the
4. The Earth Charter for Children. Author Dr. Karine
Institute for Business and Politics. All major
Danielyan. Prepared by Youth section of the
universities in the country received this book free
from the publisher.
Development. (Armenian, Russian, English).
Yerevan, 2002.
In 2007, the Association published the Russian
translation of the Earth Charter Guidebook, “Bringing
sustainability to classrooms” for schoolteachers,
developed by the Earth Charter Initiative. At present,
the book is being disseminated among teachers at
Russian-speaking schools in Armenia and is being
5. Experience of Higher Education for Sustainable
Development in the RA. Dr. Artak Sahradyan.
Proceedings of the International Conference,
‘Higher Education for Sustainability,’ UNESCO,
Luneburg University, Germany, 2006.
translated into Armenian for wider use. The
Association is also distributing the Guidebook in the
Newly Independent States (NIS) through seminars,
training workshops and conferences that have taken
place in Yerevan, Tbilisi (Georgia), Moscow (Russia)
and Dushanbe (Tajikistan) during the first semester
of the 2007 academic year. It has also been mailed
to educators in Belarus and Moldova.
also planning to develop and publish “The Guide for
Decision-Makers,” with the Earth Charter as a
framework and an integral part of the book.
The following are a few of the many publications
commitment to the vision of sustainability as an
opportunity to help her students become ‘change
agents for the future,’ – multipliers of the Earth Charter
Professor Karine Danielyan and her colleagues are
Conclusion: moving forward
principles and ethics, which will be necessary for
changing existing lifestyles in order to ensure a
sustainable future for Armenia.
Along with her colleagues from the Association, Karine
believes that their mission is to sensitize individuals and
groups about sustainable development principles, and
raise awareness of the Earth Charter at all levels, from
the members of the Parliament to the participants of
Professor Karine Danielyan and her colleagues work
local training workshops. The Association for Sustainable
voluntarily with the Earth Charter (without funding), and
Human Development has been working on this mission
intend to continue working as volunteers, integrating the
since 1998, with projects that target students, decision-
Earth Charter into present and future sustainable
makers – government officials, local and municipal
development projects. For example, the Association has
authorities, judicial officials and legislators – and pupils,
reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education of
from primary school to high school.
Armenia to include the Earth Charter Guidebook
“Bringing Sustainability into Classrooms” as an officially
Karine reflects that, during the initial years of the project,
recommended guidebook for the teachers. However,
the majority of those who had read the Earth Charter for
the Ministry believes that the mere distribution of the
the first time expressed their doubts about its
guidebook will not be effective – for wider distribution
dissemination, let alone its endorsement, by the
and more impact, the guidebook should be translated
Armenian people. However, in spite of the multitude of
into Armenian and, in the future, a series of teacher’s
different international declarations, the Earth Charter
training workshops should be held all over the country.
found its way into the hearts of the Armenian people. A
big role in this process of acceptance belongs to a new
generation of ‘change agents’ who were educated and
brought up by Professor Karine Danielyan and her
colleagues from the Association for Sustainable Human
Development. Many of her students continue to refer to
Contact information:
the Earth Charter in their scientific work, thesis papers
and in their everyday activities long after they leave the
Marina M. Bakhnova Cary
university halls.
Earth Charter Centre for Education
for Sustainable Development at
Costa Rica
Email: [email protected]
National University of Distance Education, Spain
Faculty experiences using the
Earth Charter in Distance
Learning Programmes
Ángeles Murga and María Novo63
Since its launch in March 2000, and its endorsement by UNESCO in
2003, the Earth Charter has become one of the many calls by
international organizations to governments and individuals to
spearhead positive change in the societies in which we live. As such,
the Charter might best be regarded as a code of ethics, one that
offers a solid basis for building a sustainable future governed by
respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a
culture of peace.
UNESCO Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (National University of
Distance Education, UNED, Spain)
The Earth Charter promotes values and principles that
are a key part of the pedagogical framework required to
The course objectives are based on three levels of
design, and then implement, course content geared
student performance. The first aim is to provide a
towards realizing the notion of sustainability. The
comprehensive overview of the Earth Charter. This is
document itself can be used as an effective, multi-
necessary in order to enable students to understand
faceted methodological tool in teaching-learning
the Charter’s role in the reflection and debate over
processes; as a basis for developing didactic materials;
its principles, and to view the document as a
as a catalyst for dialogue about the interrelationship
dynamic tool for building a global earth community.
between social and ecological values; and, as a bank of
The second course objective is to focus on the basic
key concepts related to nature, human and social
principles and values that collectively shape the
harmony, and sustainable development.
ethical code of the document. This knowledge is
meant to enable the professors and course
Cognizant of all of these possibilities, in October 2002,
participants to gauge the relevance of the Earth
the faculty members of the UNESCO Chair of
Charter to their own pedagogical practice. Finally,
Environmental Education and Sustainable Development
the course is designed to lead to the development
at the National University of Distance Education (UNED,
of creative proposals, incorporating the Charter
Spain) submitted a proposal to incorporate the Earth
principles into pedagogical practice.
Charter into its educational provision. As a result, a
course was created as part of the Continuing Education
Consequently, the concrete objectives set out for
Programme (Programa de Educación Permanente).
course participants are as follows:
The course is primarily designed to meet the life-long
learning needs of educators and professors. The
• To become familiar with the values and principles
objective is to assist teaching faculty in recognizing the
relevance of the Earth Charter to the educational
of the Earth Charter
• To discover the value-added potential of the
process, to encourage them to develop course content
inspired by the Charter’s principles, to implement them
development, whether it be in academia, adult
in schools and evaluate their impact.
education, or other educational settings
However, the proposal also recognized the fact that
course participants could carry out their practice in nonformal, and even informal, educational settings. This is
To develop a personal project or pedagogical
model drawing on the Charter’s values and
• To implement this project and evaluate its results
simply due to the fact that the Earth Charter provides a
objectives in three main interrelated areas:
The course syllabus is divided into two parts. First,
the text of the Earth Charter is analyzed. Second, the
a) To increase public awareness of the social,
threatening the integrity of our planet.
b) To create a common understanding among the
course participants examine the methodological and
procedural aspects required to plan and design
educational projects. The following topics are
world’s population of the necessity to develop
more sustainable ways of living.
c) To promote a culture of collaboration and
nonviolence, one which values and respects
Part I: 1. What is the Earth Charter? 2. Antecedents,
influences and the process of constitution.
Principles and objectives.
human dignity, environmental protection, social
and economic justice, tolerance of diversity, and
Part II: How can the Earth Charter be used as a
cultural and ecological integrity.
pedagogical tool?: preparation of personal projects.
4. The basic principles from a methodological point
necessary, and to monitor and evaluate student
of view. a) Knowledge creation from the learner’s
results. In addition, this serves as an endorsement of
point of view. b) Learning as a process: the
link between the intellect and emotion. c) Think
completion of the course. The mandatory
globally, act locally. d) Context analysis. e) Realizing
assignments are as follows:
the vision: from theory to practice. f) Problemsolving. g) Developing a creative approach.
a) A report (eight to ten pages) synthesizing the
h) Envisioning alternatives and decision-making
most significant lessons learned from the basic
processes: future scenarios.
texts studied during the first trimester of the
The above course content is based on the
b) A practical project enabling students to apply
assumption that the participants, mainly comprised
their theoretical knowledge in real or simulated
of working professors, have already attained a level
contexts. This activity takes place during the
of education enabling them to learn independently
second trimester, and can be carried out in the
and to integrate new knowledge into their everyday
form of three possible options
professional lives. The course, one semester in
duration, is designed to be delivered via distance
The first option is the design of an educational
learning. This pedagogical mode of delivery
project whose implementation requires a minimum
comprises three main elements: bibliographical
of two weeks. This practical experience should
resources; student assignments and activities; and,
integrate the principles and values of the Earth
virtual tutorials.
Charter, irrespective of the selected educational
setting. At the end, the student must write a memoir
Bibliographic resources
including a written self-evaluation of the initial plan,
Basic texts are studied to meet the course
difficulties encountered during the process, results,
objectives, including the Earth Charter and a series
suggestions for improvement, and the didactic
of complementary texts. These resources are listed
materials used to implement the project.
in the appendix under ‘Bibliography’ at the end of
this article.
The second option consists in analyzing an ongoing
educational project through the Earth Charter lens.
Activities and assignments
The aim is to re-think the project from this new
Autonomous learning is one of the basic pillars of an
perspective, and to incorporate those elements of
effective pedagogical model, insofar as the teaching-
the Charter that might enhance the project’s
learning process is concerned. It is for this reason
capacity to contribute to the notion of sustainable
that our course distinguishes between two types of
development. In terms of measuring performance,
learning activities. The first is obligatory, and sets out
the student is required to include in the memoir a
minimum criteria that are required to obtain a
critical analysis of the former project, to identify its
satisfactory result. The second is optional, and
deficiencies and weaknesses, and to submit a
enables selected students to ‘stand out’ among their
proposal for improving the underlying pedagogical
peers by deepening their knowledge or achieving
outstanding results.
The third option mainly caters to those students
Compulsory activities, which are presented to the
whose professions are not related to the field of
educators’ team in an escalating manner throughout
pedagogy, and involves the preparation of a data
the course, enable the instructors in charge to guide
bank through online research. The aim is to gather
or re-direct the educational process, whenever
a repertory of resources available on the Internet
about the Earth Charter, and to combine this with a
list of Charter-inspired initiatives spearheaded by
The UNESCO Chair of Environmental Education and
NGOs, international organizations, charities, and
Sustainable Development would like to conclude by
adding to the sense of hope expressed so poetically
The final report should reflect upon: the
selection criteria of the registered resources, their
in the final section of the Earth Charter:
general characteristics (e.g. target audience of
funding sources, accessibility, type of information
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of
available, educational value, etc.), as well as the
a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve
overall value of the resources on a global scale.
sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for
justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.
It should be noted that a number of complementary
or optional activities have also proven to be highly
effective in the teaching-learning process. These
Boff, L. (2001): Ética planetaria desde el Gran Sur
include synthesizing the content of each section of
(Madrid, Totta)
the Charter and preparing a glossary with the
significant terms and concepts, creating a type of
personal dictionary and encyclopedia on the topic at
La Carta de la Tierra
Murga, MªA (2005): “La Carta de la Tierra. Conceptos,
principios y valores para la educación”. En Murga,
MªA. (Coord.): La educación en el siglo XXI. Nuevos
Virtual tutorials
The third key element to achieving success in
horizontes, Capítulo III, (Madrid, Dykinson).
distance learning provision is virtual tutoring. This
Novo, M. (1995): La educación ambiental. Bases
serves as an important channel of student support
éticas, conceptuales y metodológicas, Capítulo IV,
(Madrid: Editorial Universitas, S.A.).
Traditionally, tutorial services were only available via
the post and telephone. In the case of the former,
this implied limited access for those geographically
displaced students, although the success rates in
remarkable according to studies on the topic.
information and communications technology has
Novo, M. y Murga, MªA.: La Carta de la Tierra. Archivo
sonoro emitido por radio en la programmeación de la
UNED correspondiente al año 2001. Disponible en:
Murga, MªA. (2006): Guía Didáctica del curso La
Carta de la Tierra (Madrid, UNED).
been the definitive accolade for experimenting with
different modes of tutoring to maximize student
The Internet has paved the way for fluid, and in
many cases synchronous, communication, even
among geographically remote or dispersed students.
Virtual tutorials could be an effective pedagogical
tool to be included in instructional design, and are
likely to become increasingly popular as the
demands for more student-teacher communication
continue to rise.
Contact information:
María Novo
UNESCO Chair of Environmental
Education and Sustainable
National University of Distance
Education–UNED, Spain
Email: [email protected]
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, United States
Becoming a Sustainable Campus:
An Experience with the Earth
Charter Community Summits
Andrew Robson64
Perhaps the most striking development related to the Earth
Charter in the United States has been the emergence of Earth
Charter Community Summits (ECCS; summits).65 First
conceived by Jan Roberts in 2001, there are now more than
thirty Summits – local community gatherings – held in the US
every October.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA.
Additional information about Earth Charter Community Summits can be found
The purpose of the summits is to provide an educational
forum at which an array of speakers, performers, and
Earth Charter Oshkosh ~
Earth Charter Community Summits
understanding, and action inspired by the Earth Charter
The main goals of our efforts can be summarized as
principles. The summits are organized locally, and
leaders involved in developing summits in their
communities communicate via conference calls
throughout the year, with many attending a retreat in
Florida every January. To support the growth of
independent, nonprofit organization called ‘Earth
• Development of the Earth Charter Community
Summits as significant annual events
• Implementation of sustainability principles across
the university and encouraging the same in the
local community
Charter U.S’ was established. This nonprofit has been
• Fostering collaboration and good relations
supporting the dissemination of the Earth Charter
between campus and off-campus communities
community, based at the University of Wisconsin in
• Establishing the UW Oshkosh as a national leader
in responsible, sustainable practices
Oshkosh, is an active participant in Earth Charter U.S.
• Establishment of Earth Charter Oshkosh as a
events, and is represented on the organization’s Board
year-round presence in the university and wider
of Directors.
• Integration of Earth Charter principles into
Following the first Earth Charter Community Summit in
academic areas and everyday life
Oshkosh in 2001, the Earth Charter was endorsed by all
four elements of the UW Oshkosh’s shared governance
Although revenue is often uncertain, the budget for
– faculty, students, academic staff, and classified staff.
Earth Charter Oshkosh has grown substantially over the
Top university administrators, including the Chancellor,
years. Funds for Earth Charter Community Summit on
also gave their enthusiastic support. This was the
campus and related initiatives have come from
university student organizations, such as the Student
sustainability on campus and engagement with the
Environmental Action Coalition, Campus Greens,
wider community. Sustainability is now one of the
International Student Association, and the American
university’s “Governing Ideas,” along with Collaboration
Indian Student Association; a number of academic
and Engagement.
departments; the Chancellor’s funds; the Wisconsin
Public Service Corporation (a utility company); and
Johnson Controls, Inc., among others. Johnson Controls,
Inc.66 has also awarded a significant grant to help
measure energy consumption and hire students to
perform tasks related to this project.
On a much larger scale, University-wide projects, such as
new ‘green’ buildings, have a major regional economic
impact. They also provide for educational opportunities
on campus and within the wider community. CASPER
(described later in detail) and the Aquatic Research
Centre have their own financial resources, as do
university departments and student organizations. The
Earth Charter at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
financial affairs of Earth Charter Oshkosh are handled
through the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation,
a nonprofit foundation related to the institution.
Johnson Controls, Inc. is a company leader in automotive experience, specializing
in building efficiency and power solutions; it is based in Wisconsin, USA.
Earth Charter Oshkosh’s ECCS has also continued to
organized by the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation,
grow in size and scope. These events, sometimes lasting
and connected to the utility’s “SolarWise for Schools”
for one week, are useful to raise awareness and educate
the university community, as well as people from
surrounding areas. Members of Earth Charter Oshkosh,
other student organizations, and academic departments,
suggest names for speakers and other participants for
Related accomplishments and
recognitions for sustainability efforts
on campus
the events. Many distinguished speakers from around
the country have participated, and presentations have
Although the concept of the UW Oshkosh being a ‘green
addressed the broad spectrum of Earth Charter
campus’ is a new and (for some) surprising
principles, with some speakers focusing on matters of
development, it has quickly become a key part of the
particular interest on the local and regional level. Drama,
university’s public identity. A direct outcome of the first
art, and music have also been featured during the
summit was the creation of a campus environmental
summit. Past programmes are highlighted on the
audit, completed by students in collaboration with the
Facilities Management office. Students earned college
credit for participating in the audit and have had access
The total attendance at Earth Charter Community
to paid internships funded by a grant from Johnson
Summit events is difficult to estimate. Almost all events
Controls, Inc.; it is hoped that this project will be
are free and open to the public. Many students attend
ongoing, but additional resources are needed. The
events, and in some cases event participation is linked
Facilities Management office on campus created a
to specific classes. We estimate that recent summits
“Green Master Plan” that is guiding the university and
have attracted more than 1,000 people, and special
part of this plan involves achieving green standards in
events, such as an American Indian Powwow (2006)
new building equivalent to the LEED ”silver” rating.
considerably. Every year, we try to include new events to
Over the last few years UW Oshkosh has received
attract more participants. In 2007, for example, two
national recognition for its energy and resource
walk/run activities are planned, dedicated to diversity
conservation projects. Recognition includes the 2003-
issues and to energy efficiency.
In addition, Earth
2004 National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology
Charter Oshkosh collaborates with other student
Recognition Award and the 2005 Energy Star Award for
organizations for Earth Day (Earth Week) events and
energy savings. In spring 2006, UW Oshkosh received
other activities throughout the year. We are also one of
the Wisconsin Clean Air Award from the Department of
the hosts for an annual “Solar Olympics” event,
Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Partners for Clean
Air. A few of these awards are associated with the
university’s commitment to steadily increase the
percentage of our energy consumption that is derived
from renewable sources (wind and biomass). This
commitment is being achieved in collaboration with the
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a regional utility
company, through their “NatureWise” programme. In
connection with this, the Governor of the State of
Wisconsin has identified the UW Oshkosh as one of four
campuses in the state to achieve 100% renewable
energy within five years.
UW Oshkosh has also implemented a series of energy
Exposition about alternative energy sources.
conserving building retrofits on existing buildings on
campus. Under a performance contract with Johnson
and Environmental Research (CASPER). Its vision is to
Controls Inc., these have saved money on utilities and
become “a regional centre for sustainable supply chain
have reduced emissions related to climate change. The
and environmental excellence.” CASPER is already
projects include energy efficient lighting retrofits,
engaging regional businesses in its programme, which
replacement of energy inefficient cooling equipment,
also places trained students as sustainability consultants
installation of digital utility meters, installation of water
in commercial manufacturing operations.
conserving toilets and urinals, and the installation of
control system upgrades. Specific outcomes are
On campus, the university’s Chancellor has directed the
expected, as follows:
formation of a sustainability team. Its purpose is to
devise ways of integrating sustainability (in the broad
• Savings in utility costs of $92,042 a year
Earth Charter definition) on campus, including in the
• Reduced carbon dioxide emissions totalling
curriculum, outreach, infrastructure, and food services.
993,075 pounds per year
• Reduced sulphur dioxide emissions of 4,988
pounds per year
• Reduced nitrous oxide emissions of 2,583
Among curricular activities, for example, a variety of
academic courses are currently including references to
the Earth Charter. The following are brief descriptions
of three such courses and their methodologies:
pounds per year
• Reduced water consumption of more than
25,000,000 gallons per year
Media Photography II
Students in the Media Photography II class, taught
by Tim Gleason, are introduced to the Earth Charter
These improvements will be further augmented by the
through an assignment during the first week of the
performance of the ‘green’ buildings currently under
fall semester. Students are directed to the
construction on campus, which will incorporate energy
university’s website to do research and background
saving modern lighting technology, including natural
reading on the Charter. Afterwards they identify local
light; water conservation and water catchment designs;
problems and solutions, and estimate if they are
the reuse of building materials from demolished
‘photographable’ – determining if a subject is an
buildings; and more. The campus is also reducing its use
appropriate subject for photography. Students
of non-organic pesticides and herbicides.
photograph their assignments and post the images
online with captions. Two critiques are held: (1) an
Academic engagement and
methodological aspects of using the
Earth Charter
online written critique, and (2) an oral critique. The
latter includes class discussion about how effective
The Earth Charter principles are reflected in a variety of
academic activities, on- and off-campus. Among the offcampus activities is collaboration between biology
faculty and local schools to test water quality in local
lakes. A new UW Oshkosh aquatic studies lab is starting
to serve area public schools, communities, and citizens.
It will also be a centre for research on area waterways
and will provide important consulting services in the
Great Lakes region and beyond.
In addition, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College
of Business launched a new initiative known as the
Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Processes
Photo from Student - Media Photography.
communicating the issues. Media Photography I
them towards involvement and action. Some guest
students are directed to the Media Photography II
speakers also visit classrooms, with students
website to view and learn from the projects and
benefiting from a substantial period of question-and-
photographs posted on the Oshkosh Community
answer time.
News Network website to inform the network and
encourage traffic back to the class website. Several
Professors in other departments have also
photography instructors in other parts of the country
incorporated the Earth Charter into their academic
have stated they are interested in participating in this
curricula, such as in Environmental Management, an
programme in 2007. To see examples of the
upper-level Business Administration course that
projects, visit:
introduces the natural environment as a component
of the business decision-making process. And
faculty in the departments of sociology, social work,
Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
political science, music, English, and history have
Environmental Studies 261, “Environment and
reported that they intend to do so in the future.
Society,” taught by Jim Feldman, examines
environmental problems from an international and
Lessons learned
comparative perspective. He introduces the Earth
Charter as part of a discussion about the United
Nations, and other efforts, to create a regime for the
Encouraging the development of Earth Charter
Community Summits has been important for UW
problems. He asks students to read the Earth
Oshkosh because it’s raised the awareness of
Charter and explain how it fits into the established
sustainability principles among the shared governance
at the University, and encouraged the implementation of
represents, and who has signed it, among other
these principles on campus and in the wider
community. The summits have also been the model for
the student-organized Earth Week, mentioned earlier.
Writing-Based Inquiry Seminar
Perhaps the most important outcome, however, is the
Andrew Robson’s section of a first-year course
complete integration of students, faculty, staff, and
entitled, “Writing-Based Inquiry Seminar” (WBIS
community members into the planning, promotion, and
188), uses the Earth Charter and sustainability as
staging of the summit events.
themes. He invites students to consider different
world views, and to discuss and write about the
Another useful and innovative aspect of the summits
Earth Charter’s principles, their application on
has been the live satellite ‘round robin’ linkup, used to
campus, in their local communities, in the nation,
bring people together nationwide during their own ECCS
and in the world as a whole, as well as in their own
events. This was implemented most successfully during
Readings and films relevant to the Earth
the summit in 2002, courtesy of an external grant from
Charter are used in class and are the source of
a Franciscan organization. Unfortunately, the cost was
further discussion, writing and research assignments.
too burdensome for most local summits to pay in later
The scheduling of the class means it coincides with
years. The link has become web-based, but this has
the Earth Charter Community Summit in October, an
been less successful. Earth Charter US is looking for
event that the students are required to attend. The
ways to restore the live satellite link and expand it
politicians, and others from local, regional and
national arenas. People from diverse backgrounds
Many leaders across the university community have
put a human face on issues and offer real-world
inspired UW Oshkosh to develop a sustainable campus,
experiences to the audience, often encouraging
resulting in many promising developments: the
formation of the university’s sustainability team; a
Earth Charter Community Summits will continue to play
campus environmental audit; the Green Master Plan;
a significant role in these developments, with particular
emphases on education and outreach.
conservation projects; the construction of green
buildings; projects to work on local environmental
problems; CASPER; and the integration of sustainability
principles in academic courses and programmes. The
Contact information:
Andrew E. Robson
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Email: [email protected]
Rhodes University, South Africa
Using the Earth Charter as a thinking
tool and a talking point:
Reflections on environmental
education courses
Lausanne Olvitt, Heila Sisitka and Ingrid Schudel 67
Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, has been a ‘hub’ of
environmental education, teaching and research in southern Africa
since 1990 when the first Masters Degree in Environmental Education
was established. In recent years, the Rhodes University Environmental
Education and Sustainability Unit (RUEESU) has established an
Environmental Education, Ethics and Action research programme
which seeks to better understand the relationship between
environmental education, environmental ethics and action. This
research programme was established through the teaching of an
environmental ethics module in the Masters Degree in Environmental
Education (see Lotz-Sisitka, 2004) in which we collaborated with Bob
Jickling from Lakehead University in Canada, and drew on the work of
Johann Hattingh from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa
(among other resources).
Rhodes University Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit,
Grahamstown, South Africa.
In this research and teaching programme we articulated
a theoretical framework for teaching environmental
ethics which is based on an ethics-based epistemology,
Working with the Earth Charter in
the Gold Fields Participatory
Certificate Course
environmental pragmatism, situated learning and
deliberations in socio-ecological context (Lotz-Sisitka,
The Rhodes/Gold Fields Participatory Certificate Course
2004). In teaching this module we found that we had
in Environmental Education is a 10-month, part-time
inadequate practical tools for generating thinking and
course for South African educators working in a range of
research into environmental education, ethics and
action. This led to the design of a workbook with
development officers, conservationists working at the
activities to support indepth engagement with
interface of rural communities and conservation
environmental ethics issues in education (Jickling, Lotz-
projects, and municipal managers needing to address
Sisitka, O’Donoghue & Ogbuigwe, 2006). This booklet
public health and sanitation issues related to water
is based on, and it sets out a methodology for engaging
provision, among others. As an introductory course in
with, environmental ethics questions in education,
environmental education, it guides students firstly to
which guides all of the teaching and research activities
investigate local and global environmental issues and
associated with ethics in education in the RUEESU.
risks and, secondly, to think critically about the
Its main contention is that there are many different
educational orientations and methods currently being
ways of working with ethics and that “ethics is a process
used to educate others about these concerns. Within
of inquiry and critical thinking, it is not about
the course curriculum, the assignments were developed
‘preaching’, ‘indoctrinating’, or ‘inducting’ learners into
to be as relevant as possible to each student’s
‘rules of behaviour’ or ‘codes of conduct’” (Jickling
workplace, so that the knowledge, skills and values
et al, 2006:2).
developed through the course have direct application to
the organisation or community where the student
This methodology has influenced our work with the
works. The course orientation also emphasises active
Earth Charter as we have been reluctant to view the
participation and the significance of history and context
Earth Charter as a fixed ‘code of conduct’ or a set of
in educational processes. It thus encourages students to
‘rules’ to govern behaviour, and we have had to
bring forward rather than deny their own cultural and
examine our pedagogical practice critically and carefully
political orientations, historical influences, values, ethics
to avoid ‘inducting’ our students into adopting the Earth
and priorities, so that they can be re-examined through
Charter. We have also had to work at avoiding
(but also in relation to) the course deliberations.
indoctrinating our students with the values contained in
the Earth Charter, as this would be unethical, and
Students meet in small regional tutorial groups every six
would amount to little more than social engineering
to eight weeks to share ideas, discuss the course
(which South Africa rejected with its new democratic
readings, and to receive support for the four
dispensation in 1994). We discuss this further in the
assignments that make up the final Portfolio of
context of two of our adult education courses in which
Assessment. The second of these assignments requires
we have adopted a process oriented, critical thinking
students to begin by reviewing the policies and
approach to working with the Earth Charter over the
principles of their organisation in terms of environmental
past few years in accordance with this methodological
and educational practice. This is a valuable exercise for
framework. In both cases, the Earth Charter has been
most students who might otherwise not get to take a
used in small but effective ways as a ‘tool’ to stimulate
critical look at their organisation’s mission statement or
deeper and more careful thinking about environment
vision, or the detailed policies that guide it. After this
and sustainability concerns, to promote critical thinking
exercise, students are introduced to three different sets
and to help make connections between global
of international guiding principles of relevance to
initiatives (such as the Earth Charter) and local
environmental education: The Tbilisi Principles of 1977,
environmental education practice.
the NGO Forum Principles of 1992, and the Earth
Charter. All three sets of principles are included in the
programme on forestry, alien plant clearing and
course materials and are discussed in a tutor-led
community development:
session. By introducing three sets of principles, students
are immediately confronted with the need to assess
In our work we teach our workers to respect earth
these, deliberate them in relation to each other and in
and life on it in all its diversity, to secure the present
relation to their own organization. This provides a
mechanism for fostering critical thinking when working
with the Earth Charter, and avoids ‘induction’ or
‘indoctrination’ as outlined earlier.
resources for the future generations, and to protect
and restore, where possible, the integrity of the
ecosystem. All herbicides we use won’t harm the
environment or the lives of any species, which
The follow-up assignment requires students to select
might come in contact with it, but only the plants it
one of these documents and consider it more carefully
was designed to target. Best operating practices are
in relation to their workplace: “Discuss how these
set in place and are monitored very closely.
principles could be used to strengthen the work of your
organization. Explain clearly why you believe they are
Reflections on working with the Earth Charter in this way
significant to your work.”
suggest that, especially at the undergraduate level, it
may be more beneficial to ask students to select only
In the 2007 revision of the course we have loosened-
one of the Earth Charter principles and analyze it in
up the focus of the assignment by asking the students
terms of its relevance to their work/community context.
to select any guidelines or principle documents which
By reducing the scope in this way, the depth of analysis
they consider significant in their work. This was done
might be increased and students will need to replace
with the intention of placing more responsibility on
generalized comment with more specific analysis.
students to seeking and selecting policies, principles and
guidelines of most relevance to their own work instead
of having to work with only three sets of principles that
have been pre-selected by the course developers. The
Working with the Earth Charter in
the Advanced Certificate in
Environmental Education course
assignment now requires them to identify such a set of
principles. The following are the guiding questions
The second environmental education course at Rhodes
posed to students:
University in which the Earth Charter has been used is
the Advanced Certificate in Environmental Education.
1. Which other guidelines (examples might be the
This is a full qualification for educators already in
Millennium Development Goals, Agenda 21, the
possession of a three-year professional qualification
Earth Charter, the Decade of Education for
(such as a teaching diploma, nature conservation
Sustainable Development implementation plan
diploma, BSc. Degree, etc.) wanting to specialize in
etc.) are relevant to environmental education in your
environmental education. The course is offered part-
work context? What do they say you should do?
time over two years with students having to attend 10
contact sessions of five days each. Between contact
2. Which ethical frameworks or values should apply to
sessions, students work on a series of assignments and
your work, in your view? Are there any tensions
a small-scale action research project.
Similar to the
between these and the policies/guiding frameworks
Rhodes / Gold Fields Participatory Course in EE, the
described earlier?
curriculum of the Advanced Certificate Course is
designed to be practice-based, responsive and relevant
Here is an example from one student’s assignment
to each student’s unique work context. The course
in which he begins to show evidence of making
orientation also emphasises the fostering of critical
connections between the principles of the Earth
thinking skills, active participation and improved
Charter and his own work in a government
professional practice among environmental educators.
In this course, the Earth Charter is used as an ethical
Lessons learned and
lens for exploring contemporary issues with students. A
typical exam question at the end of year one of the
Advanced Certificate Course, which requires students to
In the case of both courses described here, the curricula
reflect critically on the Earth Charter, is as follows:
are very full and time is always a major limitation to
discussions and to the extent of students’ reading.
Analyse one of two issues:
Consequently, discussions seldom get to the depth that
course developers and tutors anticipate. The Earth
Agribusiness, Biotechnology and Food Security
Charter alone can easily generate a day’s worth of
activities and discussions, but when it is one document
Landscape Change and Biodiversity Loss
among several, within a much wider course that also
includes modules on teaching methods, educational
• Identify how this issue manifests in your local
environment, by giving an example of these
materials, assessment, and so on, it becomes difficult to
dedicate that time only for the Earth Charter.
problems in your local environment.
However, as the Earth Charter covers such diverse
• Discuss the current status of the issue in your
aspects (from the knowledge systems and rights of
own country (this can include regional and
indigenous peoples to principles of ecological integrity)
national perspectives).
that we, as course developers, are challenged to rethink
how, in future courses, it might be possible to weave the
• Discuss the significance of this issue at an
international level.
Earth Charter like a strand through several other
modules of the course, thereby deepening students’
engagement with it in various ways at different stages of
• Comment on the relevance of the 16
the course.
principles of the Earth Charter to the issues
emerging from your discussion.
We are also considering in more depth how we might
encourage our students to explore these dimensions of
working with the Earth Charter: “What teaching
And from ACE (EE) Module 3:
orientation(s) might complement the ideas contained in
Consider the principles and value orientations of
the Earth Charter?” and “What teaching methods and
the People’s Earth Charter.
How will these
activities could be relevant in your work context?” We
think these might provide additionally useful starting
education methods and approaches?
points for considering environmental education, ethics
and action. We also think that the Earth Charter could
These assignment briefs show how the Earth Charter
again be critically re-examined in the courses, this time
can be used as a reflective tool. It provides capital to
from the perspective of policy formulation and
implementation. These are some of our reflective ideas
pedagogical processes in education. The case shows
after our three years of experience of working with the
how the course tutor avoided simply ‘inducting’ learners
Earth Charter in adult education courses.
into the contents of the Earth Charter, or from
‘indoctrinating’ learners into the values of the Earth
As shown in these cases, we have, primarily, used the
Charter, but rather expected learners to consider the
Earth Charter to foster critical thinking about
ethical framework provided by the Earth Charter and its
environmental ethics questions as they relate to
implications for engaging with environmental issues,
organizational strategy, environmental issues and
and for teaching practices in environmental education.
pedagogy. We have identified the potential to further
this critical thinking in relation to policy analysis and
teaching methods. In this sense, it has been used to
Lotz-Sisitka, 2004. Intepreting environments.
encourage critical engagement with dominant ideas and
Unpublished M.Ed course notes, Rhodes University
ethical perspectives in the field of environmental
Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit,
education and in society in general, and to seek
Grahamstown, South Africa.
contextual relevance and opportunities for application in
educational practice.
Jickling, B.; Lotz-Sisitka, H.; O’Donoghue, R.; &
Ogbuigwe, A. 2006. Environmental Education, Ethics
We have found this approach to the Earth Charter to be
and Action: A workbook to get started. Nairobi: UNEP
successful as we have managed to avoid ‘induction’ and
(available at
‘indoctrination’ approaches to working with codes of
ethics such as those represented in the Earth Charter. In
returning to our methodological framework provided by
the Environmental Education, Ethics and Action
workbook, we can still do more to consider how the
environmental ethics processes such as ethical actions
and practices.
Contact information:
Heila Sisitka
Rhodes University
Environmental Education
and Sustainability Unit,
South Africa
Email: [email protected]
National Institute for Physical
Education, University of Lleida, Spain
Earth Charter Project... in
Motor Action
Francisco Lagardera Otero68
This is the story of one dream, five miracles, and a project – to use the
values of the Earth Charter as a unique reference point, as a starting point
and final objective.
All nations on the planet enjoy a valuable repertoire of traditional games,
dances, and other elements of physical culture. Dating back thousands of
years, many of them were used – and are used still – to celebrate
numerous social occasions and notable circumstances, such as the harvest,
sowing time, solstices, weddings, births, thanksgiving and rites of passage,
among others.
National Institute for Physical Education of Catalonia, Spain.
The meaning and purpose behind these celebrations is
Programme and an official PhD course for that year. It
easily connected with the different values encompassed
was suggested that the project be called Earth Charter
in the Earth Charter; in this sense, it is not impossible to
in Motor Action and be designed for a Masters’ Degree
incorporate these hobbies and rituals into the Charter –
Programme that would have ‘Sustainable Sports’ as its
this wonderful tide of hope and excitement; this
thematic axis. A draft was drawn up to further develop
declaration of a sustainable, peaceful, and just world.
this idea which was later accepted by the University of
Lleida. Finally an official Masters’ Degree Programme
The dream is that one day all the children of the world
on Sustainable Sports and Wellbeing was approved by
will start their school day by showing their appreciation
AGAUR, the Catalonian agency for universities and
of life through singing, dancing, and playing cooperative
games. In the dream, they celebrate being alive and
being a part of Gaia – the living earth –by gathering
The third miracle was the insertion of the Earth Charter
each morning to participate in an active ritual, typical of
into the project. The basis for Earth Charter in Motor
the physical culture of their own country.
Action was shared during the Tenth International
Seminar on Motor Praxiology held in the city of Vitoria in
The first miracle that happened to help make this dream
come true took place during the summer of 2006,
colleagues, and laboratory personnel in attendance from
when a good friend gave me a wonderful book, “The
Spain and other countries, including France, Portugal,
Earth Charter in Action: Toward a Sustainable World”
Argentina, Chile and Brazil. We received an enthusiastic
(Eds. Corcoran et al, KIT Publishers, Amsterdam 2005),.
and committed response from everyone to actively
I read it and was captivated by this great, appealing
contribute to this project. In order to provide an
ethical vision.
opportunity for wide involvement of universities and
individuals, a section entitled, ‘The Earth Charter,’ was
By September 2006 I went before the Group of
added to the website,
Praxiological Studies of the National Institute of Physical
Currently the laboratories and research groups
Education of Catalonia (INEFC) at the University of
mentioned above have begun working as a network.
Lleida, and presented a proposal to design a descriptive
We believe that this is necessary – a contribution to the
catalogue of traditional games, dances and physical
collective process heralded by the Earth Charter to look
exercises from a scientific perspective. It would be
towards a new horizon for life on Earth.
designed using motor praxiology – the science of motor
functions – in congruence with the values contained in
The next miracle was the pedagogical experience that
the principles of the Earth Charter. The idea was to
we obtained and shared throughout the process of
design a game, dance or physical exercise in connection
to a specific Earth Charter value, so that when executed,
it might be capable of activating the value within the
participants – simply by playing them out.
The project was received with enthusiasm by both
professors and doctoral students from the research
group, and so it became the star project for the 20062007 academic year.
The second miracle began during the first session of the
2006–2007 academic year through the Governing
Coordination Body of the INEFC of Lleida, when there
arose the need to design a project for a Masters’ Degree
Presentation of the project - POPBL.
developing the project. We shared the goals of Earth
entertaining fashion, all the values embedded in the
Charter in Motor Action with University of Lleida
Earth Charter. As a complement of this phase, a
students, particularly within the INEFC. During the
series of teaching experiences have been held at the
2006–2007 academic year, 120 second-year students
INEFC and in the city of Lleida during February,
prepared a social intervention project based on motor
March and April 2007, in which the final outcome
practices, which implemented the Earth Charter
was the collective celebration that took place at the
Mitjana Park in April 2007. These experiences will
continue in the years to come, as once this
This project involved the subjects of Cooperative
programme of games and dance is finalized,
Games, Dance, Sociology of Sports and Research
between September–October 2007, we expect to
Projects II (PI-2), culminating in a celebration – a large,
put it into practice in the various social settings in the
collective event on 26 April 2007 at the Mitjana Park by
the Segre River. At this event, the university students,
educational institutions for the disabled, and homes
together with grade school students, the disabled and
for the elderly.
the elderly (some 400 people), put their bodies into
action, in movements designed and practiced as
Phase Two
testimony that it is feasible to celebrate the party of life
This phase is the creation of a database of
in an active, cheerful, and playful manner.
movement activities related to the Earth Charter,
through which we will make possible a direct access
Finally, the fifth miracle occurred when the INEFC joined
to games, dances and physical performances that
the Earth Charter. In May 2006, the Governing Body of
implement the Charter’s values to the whole human
the Centre of INEFC in Lleida, in which all professors,
community. These activities will have been
students, and service and administration staff are
previously analysed and selected by qualified
represented, unanimously approved endorsing the Earth
personnel from the Motor Praxiology laboratory of
Charter as a “document for teaching and disseminating
the INEFC in Lleida.
sustainable sports, within the academic and scientific
activities and programmes organized by this centre.”
The conclusion of this phase is expected in the year
2010. To date we have produced a descriptive
The Earth Charter in Motor
Action project
record card for data collection to enable, through the
Earth Charter section of the virtual document centre, any individual or
In a more precise description, this project intends to:
institution to make an active contribution by sending
select, within the realm of motor action (homogenous
groups of motor activities); seek, within the world’s ludic
heritage; and design (or create, if necessary) motor
activities such as games, exercises, and dances,
coherent with the values stemming from the sixteen
principles set forth in the Earth Charter. The goal is to
provide a ‘motor inventory’ of activities that can be put
into practice simply and efficiently by any person,
regardless of age, gender and culture. This project is
organized in three phases:
Phase One
This is an ongoing phase to design and create a
practical programme, capable of activating, in an
After each activity, and assessment of the impact of each
teaching activity is done.
games, dances and motor activities they deem
and politicians joined together in search of a
suitable, taking into account the conditions stated in
common objective: To promote and disseminate the
the guiding record card. The record card has been
values contained in the Earth Charter. The challenge
created so that someone without knowledge
we posed to our students was to reach this objective
of motor praxiology may be able to adequately
through motor action, which we are all so passionate
complement the information posted. All contri-
about. Dance, traditional games, cooperative games,
butions are welcome.
and expressive motor practices were our motivation
for acting and reflecting on sustainability and respect
Phase Three
for diversity.
In this phase we engage in the application of motor
conduct pedagogy, in the hopes that this teaching
We managed to involve a large number of people in
strategy may pose an authentic revolution in the
the process: First, we started with three groups of 40
teaching of physical education. This project is
second-year students of the honours degree in
determined to design a descriptive catalogue of
Science of Physical Activity and Sports, and three
sustainable and innovative motor actions so that
professors (playing the role of tutors-facilitators) of
teachers, using this support, may be able to evaluate
the INEFC-University of Lleida, who proposed a
the process by which students gradually modify their
project methodology organized as a learning
motor conduct to include the values in the Earth
experience based on problems (POPBL). Students
Charter. This phase will start upon conclusion of
worked in groups of five, with different roles to
Phase Two.
encourage cooperative work. Boys and girls from the
Lestonnac School in Lleida were also involved, as
Methodological aspects of
the experience with Phase
One of the project
were groups of disabled and retired elderly people
– happy to be taken into account – from municipal
care centres in the city. INEFC professors from
different subjects played the roles of ‘advisors,’ and
worked closely with the student groups to organize
Interaction between teachers and students
tasks and develop evaluation tools to be used.
For one day, university students, elderly people from
the municipal centres, professors and students of the
The Environment Council of the City Hall in Lleida
Compulsory Secondary School system (ESO), people
has provided support to the project since its
with cognitive disabilities, environmental technicians
inception, contributing knowledge, coherence and
of the City Council of Lleida, university professors,
expertise in organizing events.
Description of the learning approach:
content and methods
In harmony with the changes proposed by European
Universities (EEES) for 2010, we have attempted to
autonomous work planning and organization, and
communications. The Tuning Project and the Berlin
Indicators are solid proof of the significance the
University grants these competencies within the
concept of life-long learning for professionals.
Earth Charter in Motor Action at the Mitjana Park.
The Earth Charter has become the perfect
framework to encourage discovery and passion in
our students. In addition, this powerful tool allows us
to tell society that we are interested in transforming
motor action into a means of educating about
values of prime importance – those values set forth
in the Earth Charter.
The experience of having our dream become a project the Earth Charter in Motor Action - has borne fruit and
important lessons. It has given us confidence in our
capabilities and efforts to bring this project to fruition,
although we recognize that we need everyone’s help to
Using methodologies focused on student learning
helps us connect with a real context, and provide
training in professional areas. It helps us consciously
evaluate the learning process, while simultaneously
aiming for a final result. Organizing the project and
turning the ludic educational programme into an
authentic evaluation tool for the acquisition of
competencies. It also helps us establish a closer
relationship with society, recognizing that our
professional work will always be determined by our
knowledge of our surroundings and the individuals
to whom we address our interventions. These
Lessons Learned
involvement in the entire learning process, including
complete the project’s phases, since every person can
contribute actively to making this dream-project a daily
reality. Motor action has already started becoming a
transformer of life on this planet, by placing wheels on
this great vehicle, the Earth Charter.
With regard to Phase One of this project, we can state
that it has already been successful and we hope it will
continue to be so. The best assessment of our efforts,
however, is that José María, one of the boys with
cognitive disability who participated in our April 2007
celebration, continues to water the plant that he placed
in the ground that day and pamper it with affection, as
he waits impatiently for next year to come…
the evaluation, since it was the students themselves
who designed the criteria and – based on these –
selected the activities to present on the day of
The project calls for the incorporation of knowledge
Contact information:
acquired during the first cycle of their educational
programme, and ‘new’ knowledge, such as the Earth
Francisco Lagardera Otero
Charter values, on which they have to do research,
requiring analysis, synthesis and assessment. It is
Email: [email protected]
important that students learn why something is
essential, and be able to make an argument and
defend their reasoning, as well as learn to work with
their peers and others from all walks of life in natural
environments. Showing that education is our most
transformations in learning – education that touches
all of us, from politicians to schools involved in a
learning community. Within the various expressions
of physical and sporting activities we find a true
uncut diamond.
University of Auckand, New Zealand
The Earth Charter in the Classroom:
Transforming the Role of Law
Prue Taylor69 and Klaus Bosselmann70
This is a short case study on the educational use of the Earth Charter
at the University of Auckland, New Zealand at the undergraduate and
graduate levels within two different schools. The first section
describes how the Charter has been used in courses taught in the
School of Architecture and Planning, by Prue Taylor, a senior lecturer
in environmental and planning law. The second section describes the
use of the Charter in courses taught in the Law School, by Professor
Klaus Bosselmann. In both instances, students are enrolled in law
courses, however the qualifications they are seeking are different. In
the former case, the degrees sought are in environmental
management and urban planning, and in the later case, in law.
School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
School of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann have had a long
drafting process and its subsequent endorsement. Class
commitment to the Earth Charter. Using it in their
discussion then focuses primarily upon the first four
courses reflects deeply held views that incremental
broad commitments, which fall under the heading of
‘business as usual’ will not deliver the necessary degree
‘”Respect and Care for the Community of Life.” Generally
of change needed for the interrelated ecological and
speaking, there are three related outcomes from class
social issues facing the world, nor will it achieve a just
and sustainable global society. The Charter is used to
challenge students to consider the interdependence of
First, many students are already aware of the dangerous
human existence on Earth, and role of ethics in driving
contradictions inherent in our current value systems.
human behaviour and shaping (reshaping) the structure
Class discussion gives them the opportunity to articulate
and content of governance and legal systems.
these views and to consider the depth of change
needed in human society. There will be no quick fix,
Courses in the School of Architecture
and Planning
rather human social and economic systems need to be
rebuilt upon a shared responsibility for the community
of all life (human and non-human).
In the New Zealand legal system, urban planners are the
primary resource managers. This means they both
Second, while the magnitude of this change can seem
design policy and law, and implement it through
overwhelming in the face of entrenched interests, there
regional and local plans for integrated land, air and water
is significant cause for hope in the form of the Earth
use. Planners are also involved in the implementation of
Charter itself, the Initiative that promotes it, and the level
local government legislation intended to meet the
of recognition achieved by the Charter, since its launch
broader sustainability goals of local communities. For
this reason, planners are required to take a number of
compulsory courses in law and governance.
The Earth Charter is explicitly used in two of these
compulsory courses: Introduction to Planning Legislation
and the Legal and Institutional Context of Planning. Both
courses are introductory and deliver an overview of
relevant content, but they do so from a critical point of
view. That is, students are required not only to acquire
substantive knowledge, but to also exercise skills of
critique in respect of substantive knowledge.
in 2000. Many students experience a sense of solidarity
and affirmation, stemming from the Charter and the
global dialogue that it is a part of.
And third, for law to play a constructive role in halting
ecological degradation, it must transform from being an
instrument for the exploitation of Earth’s ecological
systems and its vulnerable peoples, to be reflective of
an ethic of care and respect.
In addition to the above courses, the Earth Charter was
used as an important educational tool in another
course: Climate Change and Planning. The purpose of
Both courses contain a module on the role of
this course was to first raise awareness of climate
environmental ethics. The purpose of this module is to
change and its multiplicity of related causes, and to
look at the underlying causes of ecological degradation,
consider the appropriate scope and range of planning
and the current destructive ethical paradigms that are a
responses. As will be explained below, the Charter was
major driver. This module progresses to consider
used in a slightly different manner, but built upon its use
alternative worldviews and ethical principles, and how
in the compulsory courses described above.
these can be promoted through both domestic and
international legal frameworks. It is at this point that the
The climate change course began with the students
Earth Charter proves to be an invaluable tool for class
viewing and then analyzing Al Gore’s movie, “An
discussion and individual discovery.
Inconvenient Truth.” This analysis was based upon the
integrated approach of the Earth Charter, linking social,
Students are provided with copies of the Earth Charter
economic, cultural, spiritual and ethical causes of
and information about its inception, the comprehensive
climate change. In this manner, students were able to
identify the significant limitations inherent in both the
provided all involved with a valuable and rewarding
movie’s discussion of causes, and its identification of
learning – and teaching – experience.
appropriate responses. This discussion helped students
Courses in the School of Law
understand that climate change is not about
greenhouse gases and their reduction. Rather, climate
change is symptomatic of a fundamental imbalance in
Within the suite of environmental policy and law
the human/nature relationship.
courses, the Earth Charter is also used at undergraduate
and graduate levels. International Environmental Law is
In addition to the class discussion, students were asked
a course in the Bachelor of Laws programme that
to write evaluations of “An Inconvenient Truth.” A large
provides an introduction to the concepts, principles,
number of students referred to the moral assertions
customs and treaties of international law that relate to
made by Al Gore (i.e. that climate change is a moral
protection of the global environment. In this course the
issue) and then linked this back to previous class
Charter is introduced as part of a discussion on
discussions based on the Earth Charter. The result was
international treaties and agreements. Students learn
a much deeper and interconnected understanding of
about the Charter’s unique history, inclusive nature and
the changes needed. And something more was also
importance. This provides a context for understanding
achieved; a number of students identified how this
the strengths and weaknesses of existing treaties (for
deeper understanding translated to motivate individual
example, the United Nations Convention on Biological
actions. As one student noted (and many echoed), they
Diversity), and for understanding issues concerning the
now understood that taking constructive action was no
design and scope of future international legal and policy
longer a matter of individual choice but a moral
frameworks. Students learn to identify failures and gaps
responsibility, owed to current and future generations of
in the existing system of international law and to apply
humans and other living beings both in New Zealand
ethical and conceptual reasoning to the design of future
and in other parts of the world.
Furthermore, and of no less importance, was the
The Law School also offers a graduate course entitled
understanding that actions should no longer be justified
Earth Governance. Its purpose is to examine existing
solely by criteria of self-interest, as this would limit the
governance models and practices with a focus on their
scale of actions taken. For example, reduced electricity
capacity to provide for long-term sustainability. One of
consumption leads to saving money on power bills.
the key issues is the tension between democratic
Similar savings could not always be expected as a result
traditions and ecological principles. The Earth Charter
of using public transport or purchasing locally produced
offers an important learning experience, enabling
goods. The extra costs associated with these actions
students to think holistically and identify relevant ethical
were not used to justify inaction, but were accepted as
and legal issues for the attainment of a sustainable
the current price of acting in a morally responsible
future. Students find that they can directly use the
Charter as a blueprint for multi-level governance in
pursuit of a sustainable and peaceful world.
Such shifts in the behaviour of students may seem small,
but when multiplied (in whole or in part) across a class of
The Earth Charter is also used in a number of other law
fifty-five students, the cumulative impact is both exciting
courses including international law, jurisprudence and
and dramatic. Of course, the real challenge is to make
environmental law. It is of particular importance for
value and behavioural changes enduring. Even taking this
research at the post-graduate level where students
into account, the Earth Charter, and “An Inconvenient
explore the legal significance of the Earth Charter in the
Truth,” came together in this course, to mutually reinforce
context of principles and instruments of international
one another and create a powerful impetus for ethical
law. Such research ranges from short research papers to
action on climate change. This convergence certainly
Masters theses, doctorates and post-doctoral research.
The World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Academy of
If the Earth Charter has a key educational function, it
Environmental Law recently recognized the importance
must pass the test in the classroom and in the training
of Earth Charter-related research by adopting a research
of future leaders. For us, introducing the Earth Charter
agenda that includes exploring the use of the Charter,
to our students has been the most rewarding
and its principles, for the development of new
experience of our academic work.
jurisprudential foundations for entire legal systems.
In sum, the Earth Charter has proven to be a formidable
learning tool in legal education at the University of
Auckland. There are a variety of uses (from learning
about ethics to comprehensive legal research) at all
levels of legal training (from year one to post-doctorate
studies). In most cases, students show an instant
appreciation of the Earth Charter’s purpose, values and
principles. They obviously resonate with widely held
The real challenge, however, is to understand their
practical relevance. How can the Earth Charter be
applied to law? What is its current status in international
law and what degree of legal recognition exists for its
principles? Further, how can the Earth Charter influence
international, national or local decision-making? What
political and legal measures are needed to make this
happen? These and other questions can all be
addressed in the course of legal training and indeed
must be addressed.
Contact information:
Prue Taylor
School of Architecture and Planning at
the University of Auckland, New Zealand
Email: [email protected]
Klaus Bosselmann
School of Law at the University of
Auckland, New Zealand
Email: [email protected]
Mendeleyev University of Chemical
Technology, Russia
Sustainable Education in Russia:
The Experience of the
Mendeleyev University of
Chemical Technology
Dr. Sc. Natalia P. Tarasova71 and Dr. Sc. Valentin A.
The urgent need for re-orientating this generation’s lifestyles underlies
the importance of the humanistic and ethical components of the
whole framework of education for sustainable development (ESD).
The National Sustainable Development Strategy of the Russian
Federation stresses that “…the greening of human conscience and
ethical principles and radical reorientation of the whole system of
education and training toward sustainable development principles
must prioritize intellectual and moral values over material values.” 73
The Russian Ecological Doctrine also stresses the need to develop new
educational standards that promote basic principles of national
sustainable development.74
Dr. Natalia P. Tarasova is the Director of the Institute for the Problems of Sustainable Development at the D. Mendeleyev University of Chemical
Technology of Russia, in Moscow. She is also Vice President of the UNESCO Associated Centre for Chemical Science and Education, a corresponding
member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a member of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education. Dr. Tarasova is an Affiliate of the Earth
Charter Initiative.
Dr. Valentin A. Zaitsev, Professor at the Institute for the Problems of Sustainable Development of the D. Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology
of Russia.
“National Sustainable Development Strategy for the Russian Federation.” Moscow, 1997.
The Russian Ecological Doctrine represents the official view on the principles, main priorities, and means to promote sustainable development in the
Russian Federation. The Doctrine provides the basis for the Russian State’s ecological policy.
In the sphere of public education, ESD focuses on
the active participation of engineers, with their
introducing knowledge and skills that encourage
particular knowledge and skills. Hence, the goal of
harmonious relations between humankind and nature.
education must be training specialists within a holistic
Life-long ESD provides necessary conditions for the
life paradigm, so that they can be responsible citizens.
creation, functioning and further development of the
whole system of general public education at all levels:
be mentioned, because environmentally friendly
pre-school and kindergarten, primary and secondary
technologies and green chemistry could greatly help in
school, higher education, life-long professional training,
the transition to sustainability.
nonformal education for local communities and, finally,
informal education for the mass media.
industrialization and construction of a centrally planned
The methodology adopted by the Russian educators
economy, higher education in engineering was subject
who are engaged in promoting ESD in the country is
to quite strict state control over the content of curricula,
based on the following principles:
the style of teaching and the structure of education in
general. The indepth specialization of graduates and
• Variety of forms and methods of education and
their placement in jobs was the responsibility of the
state ministries and the higher institutions themselves.
• Interrelation with other education programmes
Such an approach resulted from the fast growth of
• Programme continuity at different levels
industry and the beginning of the Cold War. The goal
• Adaptability
was ‘victory at any price.’
• Consideration of local conditions
• Inseparability of general, professional and
In today’s modern world, it is quite obvious that such an
environmental education
approach cannot be put into action and would lead
• Practical activities
nowhere. The strategy of sustainable development is
the only viable alternative. New techniques and
The higher education system for engineering in
technologies in all branches of material goods
Russia is undergoing a transition to a new educational
production make it evident that the role of engineers is
paradigm - the professional training of future specialists
becoming even more important.
in a holistic manner. Addressing the need for
Engineers trained in a systemic and holistic manner can
conservation, environmental protection, prevention of
become change agents in the practical implementation
technological accidents, and risk management requires
of the concept of sustainable development. The leading
technical universities in Russia are steadily moving in
this direction.
At the secondary school level, in order to achieve
success in sustainable education, there is an urgent
need for education programmes based on sustainable
development curriculum for use in teacher training.
Such training will allow teachers to use interdisciplinary
approaches to integrate sustainable development
principles into the different subjects of the formal school
Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology of Russia organize the
first international conference on Chemical Education and Sustainable
Sustainable education at all levels – life long, informal
and nonformal - should also be available to all citizens
of the Russian Federation in order to achieve a more
• The Department for the Protection of the
ambitious goal: the transformation of the mainstream
Producers’ Rights (dealing with legislation of
lifestyle of unsustainable consumption and production
chemicals, the chemical industry, and
to a sustainable way of living.
environmental regulation).
This can be done
through public lectures, the creation of new learning
centres, seminars and workshops, mass media such as
All technical majors in environmental protection at
TV and radio programmes, and audio-visual means,
as well as local and national roundtables and
Development are grouped under the umbrella of
the Department of Environmental Protection. In
compliance with the recommendations of the
international conference ”Environmental Chemistry,”
implementation of new ‘nature-friendly’ technologies is
“Environmental Engineering” is now a compulsory
one of the most significant components of the whole
course for all future engineers.
system of sustainable education.
The Educational Department of the Institute has
Education for Sustainable
Development at Dmitry Mendeleyev
I. ESD in Russia
development in Russia builds on the efforts of
environmental education, which constitutes the
major part of ESD in its best methodologies and
forms. The ‘greening’ of the higher technical
education in the Soviet Union began in 1983 at the
then Moscow Mendeleyev Institute of Chemical
Technology, with the initiative of its rector, the future
Minister of Education and academician G.A. Yagodin,
who founded the Department of the Industrial
In order to bring the knowledge of sustainability into
the world of professional engineers, the University
became the first school in Russia to organize a
Department for the Problems of Sustainable
Development in 1995 and, in 2000, the Institute of
Chemistry and the Problems of Sustainable
Development at the Dmitry Mendeleyev University
of Chemical Technology was established. This
unique educational institution includes:
• The College for Rational Use of Natural Resources
• The Department of Sociology
• The Department of Risk Assessment and Risk
developed programmes and specialized courses,
such as “Development and Natural Resources,” for
its students, who are studying to become chemistry
teachers in the near future.
II. The experience of integrating ESD into
higher education
Since 1995, two compulsory courses on sustainable
development, “The Problems of Sustainable
Development” and “Industrial Security and Risks”
have been included into the curricula of all
departments and institutions of Dmitry Mendeleyev
Since the year 2000, several summer schools have
been organized at Dmitry Mendeleyev University to
update young university faculty on innovative
pedagogical methodologies. The attendees were
presented with programmes in such subjects as
sustainability, democracy and justice, the goals of
sustainability, the reorientation of existing education
towards sustainable development, and the best
pedagogical practices and experiences at the
international and national level.
The Department of Environmental Engineering at
the University organizes scientific-practical student
expeditions that seek to provide students with
practical knowledge of education for sustainable
development. These expeditions have been very
successful, and the results of several were
presented to the Russian State Committee on
seminars were held during the summer and winter
Nature Protection, and included in the National
school holidays, and autumn and spring breaks. The
Report “Lead Pollution of the Environment and its
duration of each workshop varied depending on the
Influence in Public Health” (1997). In recent years,
individual requirements of each group and the level
some of them have also been sent out to the
of their preparedness. Among other topics, such
issues as environmental protection and its relation
Committee on Nature Protection.
to poverty, and examples of unsustainable
economies and poor environmental management
In April 2007, the Academic Council of the Institute
were addressed. As the result of this sustained
of Chemistry and the Problems of Sustainable
effort, ESD practices and methodologies became an
Development at Dmitry Mendeleyev University
indispensable part of the educational process for
approved the professional oath that each graduate
every teacher, faculty member, and student from
of the Institute is expected to take during the
Tomsk Municipal College who took part in these
graduation ceremony, starting with the 2007–2008
academic year. The text of the oath is built on the
main principles and values of sustainability.
Environmental Monitoring turned out to be one of
III. Helping integrate ESD in secondary
the most effective tools for the integration of
sustainable development issues into the formal and
In addition to its ESD activities at the higher
nonformal educational process in secondary
education level, Mendeleyev University set up a
education. These Centres provide college students
long-term patronage programme to promote
(15-18 years old) with the opportunity to carry out
education for sustainable development in secondary
systematic, scientific research by working on various
education by creating centres of environmental
projects. The programme is developed with
monitoring in secondary schools and colleges in
consideration of the educational and psychological
various parts of the country.
levels of students’ development. The experience of
From1991-1993, in Moscow and Tomsk (Siberia),
Monitoring and the information gathered by the
the professors of the Department of Sustainable
University was very useful for further expanding this
Development of the University developed and held
programme. For the last several years such Centres
a series of workshops and seminars on global issues
were organized in several Moscow schools.
related to sustainable development. As a rule, these
IV. Professional training for sustainable
The University’s experience in convening ongoing
training seminars and workshops on environmental
management was incorporated by the Government
of Moscow. In late 1999, the Moscow Government
issued Decree N990, in which both environmental
and sustainable development professional training
were pronounced compulsory for professional and
business managers at all levels.
In accordance with the Decree, the University, as a
On the century-old grand University staircase. The famous
students choire.
Environmental and Sustainable Development
Education, provides professional training by giving
Moscow and other regions; this is an ongoing
the course “Environmental Protection at Industrial
process. The courses are designed primarily for
secondary and high school science teachers and are
representatives from various plants and factories
built around the new educational curricula
in the Russian capital have received this training.
developed at the Institute. Interactive approaches
and experience sharing are widely applied in these
V. Regional activities: Promoting ESD
principles among Russian educators
The Director and faculty of the Institute for
courses, as well as simulation role-playing,
discussions of global problem issues, and social and
economic aspects of sustainable development.
Development at the Mendeleyev University have
developed a programme for the promotion of
sustainable development at the regional level. They
created a partnership with the Inter-Regional
Education for sustainable development is a very
Association for Economic Cooperation of the
complex and innovative process.
Subjects of the Russian Federation, called “The
The IPSD at the Mendeleyev University uses the
Siberian Agreement.” This Association constitutes an
following features in the educational process:
NGO that brings together nineteen regional subjects
of the Russian Federation. The Association focuses
• Interdisciplinary approach, which implies the
its activities on life long environmental and
combination of traditional forms of education with
sustainable development education, raising the
innovative ideas and methodologies. Young
awareness of the broader Russian public through
chemists learn chemistry along with special
formal and nonformal ESD.
courses on sustainable development and
environmental risk assessment and management,
Week-long training courses were held in various
Siberian cities – Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk,
and others. The courses were held by professors of
the Institute headed by its Director; they were mainly
focused on secondary school teachers and university
professors, although, on one occasion, Professor
Tarasova’s audience were kindergarten teachers.
as well as sustainable patterns of production and
• Overarching approach for dealing with global
problems at the local level.
• Active personal involvement and interaction
between educators and students.
• Use of role-playing and other active methods of
engaging students in creative participation within
the teacher-student exchange.
Development at the Mendeleyev University works in
• Simulation games with small groups of students,
close cooperation with the UNESCO Centre of
which create real-life problematic situations in
Chemistry and Education, and serves as an
need of sustainable solutions.
experimental testing ground for new educational
methods and curricula. In order to train the diverse
It is important to note that the Earth Charter is integrated
and numerous educational communities in Russia,
into the text of lectures given to the students during a
educators at the Institute developed courses on
special course, “Problems of Sustainable Development.”
natural protection and sustainable development to
The course is included in the curricula of each School
be taught by educators in hundreds of schools
and Department of Dmitry Mendeleyev University. It is
across nineteen regions of the Russian Federation.
being taught to all students during their second year for
108 hours, of which 36 hours are dedicated to the
Since early 2000, the Institute has been convening
lectures, and 72 hours to practical and individual work
a series of training workshops and seminars in
(one semester).
All students have to master the computer game
By applying these methods, the Dmitry Mendeleyev
“Strategema” (an after class exercise, which allows the
University plays an important role in the education of
students to get 30 credits out of 100). The game is
new generations of professionals ready to face
based on the theory and practical methods of applied
interdisciplinary challenges and find innovative and
systems approach and management introduced by
sustainable solutions.
Dennis Meadows. The game requires close interaction
of several participants united in a working group that
helps participants master the fundamentals of system
thinking and apply them concretely to the solution of
each given problem. The outcome of the game
depends on coordinated decision-making that integrates
Contact information:
the needs and perspectives of every participant.
Dr. Sc. Natalia P. Tarasova
Students also watch four documentaries on the most
Email: [email protected]
complex problems of sustainable development (also
completed after class). During their group exercises, and
Dr. Sc. Valentin A. Zaitsev
also as an individual assignment, students work on
Email: [email protected]
finding solutions to the problems raised in these films
and present them to their professor. Students can earn
Institute for the Problems of
20 credits for the best solutions.
Sustainable Development at
Mendeleyev University
All students have to prepare and turn in three papers
and one thesis on sustainable development issues. Out
of the three mandatory papers, one must be written on
the Earth Charter principles and their importance for
sustainable development processes.
Daugavpils University, Latvia
Experience of the Institute of
Sustainable Education,
Faculty of Education and
Inga Belousa and Ilona Micule75
Since the last decade of the 20th century, the Latvian education
system has undergone a series of dramatic changes as the result of a
significant political and socio-economic transformation. Power and
organizational structures have been redefined along with Latvia’s
integration movement towards a market economy, mature forms of
democracy, and, last but not the least, EU membership. These changes
have offered opportunities (as well as challenges) for education for
sustainability. These changes have also made it possible for ESD to
become part of the formal learning experience in Latvian universities.
Inga Belousa, PhD, Senior Researcher, Institute
Faculty of Education and Management, Daugavpils
Ilona Micule, PhD, Researcher, Institute of
Faculty of Education and Management, Daugavpils
of Sustainable Education,
Sustainable Education,
Education for sustainability, “…the greatest resource for
At the outset of its establishment and development,
includes an
FEM faced a variety of challenges. The Department was
integrated vision of the environment, economy and
engaged in extensive research activities in order to
society, and involves acquiring the knowledge, skills and
develop its own unique curriculum foundation for an
values necessary to guide and motivate people for
integrated and holistic approach to education at
sustainable ways of living and informed citizenship. This
Daugavpils University.
achieving a just and ecological society,”
inspiring vision motivated a group of professors at
Daugavpils University to establish a new educational
The first stage consisted of the official establishment of
division, the Faculty of Education and Management
FEM at Daugavpils University in 1993. This marked the
(FEM). Since its establishment, this Faculty has focused
beginning of a transition process from the centralized
its activities on the development of pre-service and in-
and rigid regulatory-oriented educational system to a
service teacher education and training.
democratic, integral and holistic approach. The process
was enhanced by the University’s participation in a
Overview of the development of the
Faculty of Education and
Management and the Institute of
Sustainable Education
While the process of reorientation of education began
with the current cadre of teaching professionals, it
became clear that institutions of teacher education
needed to reorient their pre-service teacher education
to address the goals of ESD. Reorienting teacher
education is, indeed, a key element in the development
of new professionals committed to ESD. This will help
them to become ‘sustainability change agents’ and will
considerably shorten the response time for achieving
sustainable development goals in education. The
initiators of the FEM had a clear vision of this ambitious
broad European dialogue on the future of higher
education, particularly, within the context of the TransEuropean Mobility Scheme for University Studies
(TEMPUS) projects.77 The Tempus, with its strong focus
on institution-based university cooperation, promoted
the participation of Daugavpils University in its broad
discussions on democratic cooperation, and social and
environmental awareness in education. Since its
inception, the FEM has based all of its pedagogical
activities at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels on
the ethics and principles of sustainability that can be
found in the text of the Earth Charter.
The second stage (1995-1998) was mainly focused
on the integration of the holistic approach into the
teaching and learning processes. This work was
supported and stimulated by the Soros FoundationLatvia, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Centre
for Curriculum Development and Examinations, and
other institutions that provided the professors and the
research staff with opportunities to participate in the
applied research activities for curriculum development
and create a solid base for holistic, integrated
The third stage (1998-1999) was devoted to the
investigation of the meta-curricular dimensions of teacher’s
education, with the issue of spirituality as the most common
concern within the context of this holistic approach.
The fourth stage (1999-2003) was focused on
Latvia Daugavpils copy.
researching the interconnectedness between the
Schumacher, F. 1973 Small is beautiful: Economics as People Really Mattered. (Abacus, London).
TEMPUS is managed by the European Commission's Directorate General on Education and Culture with assistance given by the
European Training Foundation. The programme funds cooperation projects in the areas of curriculum development and innovation,
teacher training, university management, and structural reforms in higher education. It puts special emphasis on the mobility of academic
and administrative staff from higher education institutions, both from the EU and the partner countries, as the European Commission
continues to consider higher education as a priority for its co-operation activities with the countries surrounding the European Union.
ecological and spiritual aspects of this holistic approach
based discipline. However, Huckle stressed that
and its role in education for sustainability.
curriculum reform can provide a context and opportunity
The fifth stage (2003) resulted in the fine-tuning of the
opportunities for its inclusion into formal education.78
new educational curriculum for ESD: broadening the
educational perspective and goals, and clearly
An academic Masters Programme on Pedagogy that has
demonstrating the need for a new structural unit within
been reoriented for ESD purposes can be used as an
the Daugavpils University - the Institute of Sustainable
example of qualitative changes in the education process.
The transformations have been implemented at three
levels: programme structure, course content, and
General Information about the
Institute of Sustainable Education
programme methodology.
Each educational programme is divided into distinct
units: the Holistic Pedagogy unit consists of three was founded in 2003 as a structural unit
courses, including Environmental Education; Spirituality
of FEM for scientific research activities in pedagogy,
of Pedagogy; and the Integrated Approach in Education;
pedagogical and developmental psychology, and
the Educational Philosophy unit consists of three
education and management. ISE consists of three
departments: Department of Scientific Research,
Contemporary Issues of Educational Philosophy;
Department of International Projects, and Department
Education for Sustainable Development; and Innovative
of Scientific Editions. The Institute is committed to a
and Future Education. Each unit is taught from a
transdisciplinary and holistic approach to curriculum
common perspective and evaluates students’ academic
development and the vision of education for
performance through an integrated paper. The
challenge of these new study courses has been, and still
is, to create a learning environment that is problem-
Curriculum and pedagogical changes
to promote sustainable education:
Masters Programme on Pedagogy
based, eco-centric, focused on social change, and
Education for sustainability creates a lot of challenges to
The holistic approach, as a perspective of reorienting
curriculum innovators, especially if it is interpreted as
education towards sustainable development, reflects the
promoting change agency and not only as a content-
belief that everything in the world is interconnected.
Prof. Ilga Salite innagurates the establishment of the Baltic and Blac
See Consortium in Educational Research (BBCC), May, 2005
Huckle, J. (1995) Reaching Out. WWF: Godalming.
encouraging of learners’ understanding of global
change, and cultural and biological diversity.
4th JTET Conference, Helsinki, June 1st 2006
According to the holistic perspective, the educational
first century as: learning to be, learning to know, learning
process is based on the choices and responsibilities of
to do, and learning to live together.
each learner. Such an educational process encourages
promotes the participation of pupils and students in the
each learner to develop their own identity and to learn
development of peace, tolerance and democracy in
from others while being involved in educational and
Latvia and in the world.
The project
social processes themselves. The hope at the FEM is
that the transformation of the Masters programme will
foster qualitative changes -- not only in the context of
the study programme or the university, but also in the
Journal of Teacher Education and Training
(JTET) / Journal of Teacher Education for
Sustainability (JTEFS)
society at large. Similar qualitative changes were
integrated into the professional training programme and
Participating in the International Network on Reorienting
into the FEM’s Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral
Teacher Education to Address Sustainability provided
programmes in education at Daugavpils University.
Daugavpils University with opportunities for an extensive
global dialogue, especially concerning action-research
Cooperation with UNESCO on curriculum
development and practical implementation
of ESD
and ESD-related demonstration projects. The Journal of
Teacher Education and Training (JTET) was created as
the result of the activities of the International Network,
and the University’s desire to launch an international
As previously stated, in order to reorient the existing
journal. The Editorial Board of the JTET brought together
educational process towards the goals and values of
researchers from about 16 countries, and the first
sustainability, the ISE leadership began to refocus its
edition was published in May 2001. The authors shared
discipline-oriented curriculum towards a competency
the findings of research focused on their own
based model arranged around a number of themes and
methodologies to integrate the issues of sustainability,
learning areas. Active cooperation with UNESCO and
sustainable development and ESD into teacher training
participation in various EU educational projects and
and education for sustainability. In 2003 the Journal
programmes helped them to move towards this goal.
received official recognition from the Academy of
Science of Latvia (Council of Science) and was included
From 2000-2004, the ISE staff participated in the first
in the list of universally recognized peer-reviewed
stage of the UNESCO University Twinning and
scientific editions. By 2004, the Faculty of Education
and Management had founded the Institute of
“Reorientation of Teacher Education towards Sustainable
Sustainable Education, and JTET became a journal of
this Institute.
conceived to advance research, training and programme
development in higher education by building university
In April 2007, the Editorial Board of the JTET announced
networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation
a change in the Journal’s title to the Journal of Teacher
through transfer of knowledge across borders.
Education for Sustainability (JTEFS). This change reflects
Participants learned how to develop their own
the next stage in its development: the integration of
educational and research materials.
accumulated experiences and research materials into
everyday practices of teacher training and education for
Since 2006, ISE has been cooperating with the
sustainability. Although intensive research and the
UNESCO Latvian National Committee, and also
theoretical development of methodological approaches
ISE staff
continue, JTEFS will now give priority to applied research
and educators contribute to project activities aimed at
based on the principles of action research and the
implementing innovative approaches in the educational
qualitative contributions from the multitude of new ESD
system and developing new teaching methods. The
practices and methodologies.
participates in the Associated School Project.
project sees the four pillars of education for the twentyThe project was launched in 1953 in order to strengthen the commitment of children and young people to actively strive to promote
mutual understanding and peace in the world. More than 7,000 schools in the world had joined the ASPnet by the year 2002. Latvia has
participated in the UNESCO ASPnet since 1993, gradually embracing 26 schools. (
The Journal’s contributors cover a wide scope of topics
principles of sustainability in education using the Earth
and research methodologies; integrate new ideas on
Charter as an ethical framework.
education for sustainable education and sustainability
per se. The main JTEFS themes are:
• Teacher education / professional development
of teachers
• Involvement of teachers in different levels of
Challenges, Lessons Learned
and Conclusion
Most modern western education patterns simply
reinforce practices and methodologies to equip young
• Didactics
people for the new information age and highly
• Curriculum issues
• Teachers’ feedback on environmental
education, education for sustainable
development and sustainability
• Organizational management and others.
Practical and theoretical research:
national and international projects
The faculty and research staff of the Institute closely
cooperates with various research associations: All India
Association for Educational Research, International
Association for Children’s Spirituality, International
School Psychology Association, International Seminar on
Religious Education and Values, etc, as well as a range
of research networks: Environmental Management of
Sustainable Universities, European Council for High
globalisation also negatively affects education and
hampers sustainable development. To contrast this
trend, the Faculty of Education and Management of
Daugavpils University has been increasingly getting
involved in processes of reorienting education to face
the challenges of sustainability. As an example, the
Faculty has become involved in the international
network of teacher education within the context of the
UNESCO global teacher education project and in the
establishment of the Baltic and Black Sea Circle
Consortium (BBCC) in educational research. In this
sense, this University has shown its commitment to be
in the forefront to promote processes of education for
sustainable development in the regional and national
Ability, etc. This productive collaboration contributed to
educational content by bringing in issues of spirituality,
tolerance, and gender equality.
In order to integrate shared values and ethics for
sustainability into the educational curriculum for teacher
training, the ISE management initiated student activities
connected with ESD and the Earth Charter. It also
supported the foundation and development of a
student’s NGO based on the content and ethics of the
Earth Charter; and, facilitates students’ research on ESD
and publishes its results.
The Earth Charter Centre for ESD is joining forces with
the Institute of Sustainable Education to better assist the
Institute’s staff, researchers and students to develop
educational materials; facilitate research and educational
activities; and promote partnerships to integrate the
Contact information:
Inga Belousa, PhD
Email: [email protected]
Ilona Micule, PhD
Email: [email protected]
[email protected]
Institute of Sustainable Education
Faculty of Education and
Daugavpils University, Latvia
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