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Environmental and Sustainability Education

Definitions of ESE Terms

Environmental Education:

Learning that “encourages a sense of personal responsibility for the environment; fosters a commitment to sustainable living, and promotes an enduring dedication to environmental stewardship.” 

    - Green Street

"Environmental education is education about the environment, for the environment, and in the environment that promotes an understanding of, rich and active experience in, and an appreciation for the dynamic interactions of:
•  the Earth’s physical and biological systems;
•  the dependency of our social and economic systems on these natural systems;
•  the scientific and human dimensions of environmental issues;
•  the positive and negative consequences, both intended and unintended of the interactions between human created and natural systems."

    - Ministry of Education
      "Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future", 2007, p. 6

Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE):

“Environmental and sustainability education (E&SE) is about healthy relationships between humans and the Earth’s living systems. It includes the many and varied forms of education that help us appreciate and maintain the integrity of the biosphere.…the transmission, growth and application of environmental knowledge across all sectors of society."

    - Environmental Education Ontario (EEON), 

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD):

"The role of education for sustainable development (ESD) is to help people develop the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and for the future, and to act upon those decisions. ESD is an approach to teaching and learning based on the ideals and principles that underlie sustainability – human rights, poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods, peace, environmental protection, democracy, health, biological and landscape diversity, climate change, gender equality, and protection of indigenous cultures. In these and many other dimensions, education for sustainable development is analogous with the vision and goals of UNESCO."

    - Canadian Commission for UNESCO, 

“Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) encourages us to explore the profound interdependencies of ecological, societal, and economic systems. ESD is about respecting and preserving our histories, valuing culture and community, caring for others and the environment, and taking action to create a fair, healthy, and safe world for all beings. ESD also supports flexibility, creativity, critical reflection, and fosters a sense of personal responsibility for the economy, society, and environment.”

    - Learning for a Sustainable Future

Ecojustice Education

Ecojustice education "is connected with the need to reduce the impact of the industrial/consumer dependent culture on everyday life while at the same time ensuring that people are not impoverished and limited in terms of equal opportunity; the five aspects of ecojustice...include (1) eliminiating the causes of eco-racism, (2) ending the North's exploitation and cultural colonization of the South (Third World cultures); (3) revitalizing the commons in order to achieve a healthier balance between market and non-market aspects of community life, (4) ensuring that the prospects of future generations are not diminished by the hubris and ideology that drives the globalization of the West's industrial culture, (5) reducing the threat to what Vandana Shiva refers to as 'earth democracy'  - the right of natural systems to reproduce themselves rather than to have their existence contingent upon thedemands of humans."

    - Ecojustice Education website

Sustainability Education:

“The goal of sustainability education is to develop…new knowledge and new ways of thinking needed to achieve economic prosperity, participate democratically, secure justice and equity, and all the while regenerate the health of the ecosystems, the gift upon which all life and all production depend.”

    - Madeson, Frances. (2009). Spotlight On: The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education.

Place-based Education:

“Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community.”

    - Promise of Place

“Place-based education takes us back to basics, but in a broader and more inclusive fashion. Desirable environmental education, or what we’re calling place-based education, teaches about both the natural and built environments. The history, folk culture, social problems, economics, and aesthetics of the community and its environment are all on the agenda… one of the core objectives is to look at how landscape, community infrastructure, watersheds, and cultural traditions all interact and shape each other.”

Sobel, David. (2004). Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities. Massacheusetts: The Orion Society. 




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