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What is Sustainability Education?

Updated: Jun 12, 2023




Sustainability education focuses on learning practices that nurture ecological, social and economic vitality. We accomplish this through experiential and immersive garden education. By cooperative, hands-on experiences in garden environments we discover an appreciation and awareness of our food production. Garden learning provided a direct connection to the living soil, to diverse plant and animal communities and to our own relationship to these dynamic processes. In this way, sustainability education enriches the lives of children and their families, sustains human and ecological communities, and fosters a deep awareness of how our lives are interwoven into the fabric of the natural world.


David Orr, an important voice in environmental education directly asks, “What is education for?”


Let’s use this question as a springboard to understand what we mean by sustainability education.


Sustainability education:


Fosters holistic and integrated approaches to learning about interconnected systems. It is not homogenized snippets of information.


Focuses on the social, emotional, spiritual, physical and cognitive learning of children and adults. It is not a solely cognitive endeavor.


Encourages curiosity, interaction, immersion and hands-on engagement. It never limits the natural curiosity or exploration of learners.


Practiced in real-world settings and is applicable to concerns and needs of daily life. It is not de-contextualized from daily life and experience.


Stresses the importance of practical learning that is concretely tied to lived experience. It does not privilege abstract ideas or concepts over concrete and sensory experiences.


Views cooperation and community engagement and responsibility as central to educational outcomes. It does not place a priority on individuality or autonomy.


Embraces connections to the love of nature and views stewardship as central to human health and well being and as a cornerstone to a happy life. It does not assume that education teaches us how to be happy or how to live well and sustainably upon the earth.


Challenges the basic assumptions of economic systems that privilege profits over people and planet. It does not assume that all progress is good and necessary.


Strives to enrich the lives of all people, human and biological communities, and the relationships that bind us rather than leverage education as job training. It is not simply a means to an economic end.


Values bio-cultural diversity and explores the interdependence of all things. It does not perpetuate a separation between what is human and what is nature.

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