Educating for Sustainable Development
Wellbeing for all, within the means of nature.
definition of sustainable development, global footprint network
We view our mission for Peace and Sustainability as another expression of the global desire to embrace Sustainable Development. As a result, UWCSEA has adopted the Global Footprint Network’s definition of Sustainable Development because it encapsulates the challenge we are addressing, while offering a way forward. It is measurable and achievable, suggesting that the way forward for humanity is to work for a life of dignity and opportunity for all, guided and bound by limits of Earth's life support systems.
We have also chosen to focus on the 5 Ps—People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership—of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development as a conceptual framework which offers a specific set of Global Goals for short-term action while providing us with a framework in which to develop understanding.
Like all definitions and models, these are simplifications of the very complex reality but we like them because they succinctly describe the better world that we at UWCSEA are educating for and can be understood by most ages groups.
Links to UWCSEA Guiding Statements
Education for Sustainable Development is integral to achieving the UWC mission and the ‘Better World’ in the UWCSEA educational goal. All the skills and qualities of the UWCSEA profile are developed through Education for Sustainable Development, but our Commitment to Care is of utmost importance in ensuring that these concepts are an expression of our values as a community.
We firmly believe that this is something we want to achieve as a school and community. The local is the global.
As the world prepares for COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the 18 UWC schools and colleges recognise their role in tackling the threat of global climate change.
Education for Sustainable Development in Action
Integration and interconnectedness are key transcending concepts across the 5Ps of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thus a systems-thinking approach is vital to ensure that students understand and implement the agenda.
This approach has been at the heart of thinking about the challenge of Sustainable Development, even before the term was popularised in the 1980s. Since the Limits to Growth was published in 1972, a team based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed thinking and analysis tools that allow organisations to see the interconnectedness of systems and design solutions for the issues they create. These tools have been widely shared in education by the Waters Foundation and, in Asia, by Compass Education, whose Sustainability Compass tool has been used in UWCSEA for a number of years.
Systems thinking is not just a learning tool for students. It is also a way in which the College integrates our learning programme and our operations to better educate for Sustainable Development. For example, students work with teacher leaders on composting, which is then used to support our edible garden and food operations, linking learning and operations in a concrete way. Systems-thinking habits are encouraged across our community, recognising that our campuses, our community and our curriculum interact to create patterns, and that these will adapt and change over time.
Further research is being carried out on understanding and teaching of Complex Adaptive Systems with help from our educational partner the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Commitment to Care
Of all the skills and qualities of our Learner Profile, we believe this to be the essential attribute for us all to develop if we are truly to embrace the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Education about Sustainable Development has existed for 20 or more years, but a mere academic understanding has not delivered the changes required. Only through a deeply-held conviction that Sustainable Development is humanity's most urgent challenge, and a heartfelt commitment to learning the skills and knowledge to begin making effective change, will we deliver on our responsibilities to our planet.
Taken from the UWCSEA Profile, a Commitment to Care is described and defined as:
Initiate actions and make a commitment to shaping a better world.
Related concepts: stewardship, caring, empathy, compassion, open-minded, service, sustainability
Aspects of demonstrating a commitment to care:
- concern for the environment and a commitment to a sustainable future
- concern for inequity and a commitment to social justice
- value diversity and engage respectfully in an open-minded manner
- sustain an empathetic and compassionate outlook