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Why Education for Sustainability?

Our world is rapidly changing. Education for Sustainability (EfS) challenges students to prepare for their future today while stimulating academic engagement.

  • EfS students value a sense of place, understand they have the ability to make a difference in the world and are able to advocate for a healthier more sustainable future. 
  • EfS educators value authentic and real-world-learning experiences, understand interdisciplinary connections and are able to empower students to advocate for a healthier more sustainable future.
  • EfS schools value a collaborative learning community, understand the whole school change approach to sustainability and are able to cultivate a culture of sustainability across K-12 education.

The Benefits for Students

Multiple studies demonstrate improvement in student performance and well-being when schools apply EfS principles and practices. Evidence suggests that students: 

  • Learn to engage with and care for their local environment, both in their school buildings and in their local community.
  • Find greater motivation for learning by connecting to real-world issues that matter to them.
  • Develop social and emotional skills like confidence, team work, and leadership.
  • Improve mental and physical health and well-being when spending time in the natural world.
  • Enhance critical thinking and creative-problem skills through inquiry- and place-based education.
  • Increased civic engagement and understanding of the ability to make a difference.
  • Improve academic performance in a range of subjects.

A Selection of Research:

Evidence of Impact of Sustainable Schools

Summary of Stanford analysis of environmental education impact, summary of academic benefits and link to journal article

Education for Sustainable Development: Improving Schools, Improving Lives

The Benefits of Place-Based Education

Getting Out Gets Results

National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability

The Benefits for Teachers

In addition to enjoying improved student outcomes as described above, CELF support for integrating sustainability into K-12 curriculum can help teachers by:

  • Demonstrating new and innovative pedagogical strategies that can reinvigorate enthusiasm and motivation for teaching. 
  • Enhancing content knowledge about sustainability issues.
  • Discovering new ways to integrate community and place in lesson plans. 
  • Identifying academic entry points for students who are struggling or who have special needs.
  • Increasing opportunities for use of STEM activities and place-based education to teach the Big Ideas of Sustainability.
  • Earning in-service credits for CELF’s professional development courses per district policies as well as graduate credits for Summer Institutes.