The sustainability agenda
Developing a sustainability agenda in schools, Lisbon 2022
Veritas International Training Center want to advance an agenda for teaching sustainable living in schools, inviting educators to a new conference in Lisbon in November 2022.
The urgency of the situation
There is, surely, no more important educational priority as we exit the first quarter of the 21st century, than developing an agenda to advance a global understanding of how humanity can live sustainably on the planet it inhabits. The concept of sustainability has been driven by concerns about the environment through climate change, as emphasised by Stephen Scoffam and Steve Rawlinson in their article on The Sustainability Gap (ITM, September 2022). But it is not just climate change we need to think about: the subject has far wider implications. An understanding of sustainable living must also embrace meaningful change that will have economic, social and cultural dimensions.
Before our students lose faith in education
As educators we must embrace our responsibility to bring these wider dimensions of sustainability front and centre in our teaching, before our students, who are often far more cognisant and passionate of the subject, lose faith in the value of the education we are offering them.
We need to move it from an aspect of the co-curricular programme to the very centre of the curriculum and then reflected in the co-curricular – it’s the power of the ‘and’ as distinct from the tyranny of the ‘or’.
A holistic approach
Sustainability must surely be integrated into a holistic approach to learning that incorporates three key domains:
- Curriculum development. This domain should weave an understanding of sustainability throughout a range of educational projects and into individual subject areas – how can the mathematics, history and science curriculum be developed to support and advocate a student’s understanding of sustainability?
- Educating for a sustainable life through the development of beliefs, values, and attitudes. This will, for example, incorporate tolerance and inclusion, inquiry, critical thinking, lifelong learning, resourcefulness, thrift, adaptability, and resilience as values that epitomise sustainable living in a holistic sense.
- Sustainable learning environments – consistent with the two previous domains and integral to their goals. This would include, but not be limited to school premises and grounds – for example the approach a school takes to its use of energy, water, food, waste, landscaping, and our carbon footprint. We need to go further. Sustainability has to be approached as both an input for and a key outcome of strategic formulation, covering topics such as wellbeing as an attribute of health, the continuity of student inflow, staff development, retention, renewal and long-term stability. A school that is aware of its responsibilities for sustainability will also consider its relationships with the community and wider stakeholders. There are also less obvious areas to think about, such as data protection and cybersecurity to the extent they represent threats to operational continuity as do data analytics as a tool supporting planning and managing processes.
From debate to school-based action, Lisbon, November 2022.
Encouraging and supporting the debate between school leaders, teachers and other top-level educators to advance sustainability in education, from this holistic perspective, is essential.
We are providing a forum for the debate in Lisbon in November 2022.
This is best achieved within a framework of an ongoing, scaffolded process based on the exchange of views and grounded experience between the participants themselves and progressively building on the outcomes of each round as an “ongoing conversation” develops between schools.
Taking a holistic approach will develop multiple threads in an essential conversation, with participants contributing to one or more derivative subjects according to experience, preference or priority, with focused outcomes to be shared at the conference and then taken back to school communities.
Sustainability conference: Lisbon, November 23rd – 25th, 2022
The Lisbon-based Veritas International Training Centre for teachers, with their partners, the University de Nova, a strong proponent of integrating the teaching of sustainability across their faculties, has now placed this holistic approach to developing the sustainability agenda in schools at the heart of all its teacher training and leadership programmes.
Beginning with a residential seminar to be held in Lisbon between November 23rd and November 25th, we wish to focus the attention of educators on this, the most important matter of our time, elicit their contributions and provide takeaways that lead to the development of a sustainability road map in schools throughout the world.
We invite you to register.
Please join us.
Richard Tangye and João Paulo Feijoo are Directors of VITC, a partnership between Veritas Educatio, owner of St. Dominic’s International School, and Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
Pedro Neves is a Full Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics.
Feature Image: by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay