What better place to share values and stories than at a festival? During the Summer of 2016, the Earth Charter Cities team partnered with Summerlabb, a traveling festival bringing together art, music, research institutes, polytechnic universities and sustainability companies. The festival explored our use of energy, water, light, architecture and food, and showcased inspiring innovations and solutions for communities driven to become more sustainable. Hundreds of children, adults, business professionals and music lovers from all over Holland gathered together to celebrate and learn. Surrounded by music, culture and art, participants explored sustainable innovations and their stories in Rotterdam, Groningen and several other cities in the Netherlands.
Earth Charter Cities is a collaborative movement that brings together passionate amateurs, experts, and organizations from across the world to inspire improvements in principle areas of the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto. This manifesto is a call to action developed by Gerben van Straaten of World of Walas to help communities realize the Earth Charter vision. After an almost two-year drafting process with key stakeholders of the Earth Charter, the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto was launched in The Hague in 2010.
Guided by the Earth Charter, Earth Charter Cities shared with festival goers on the importance of bringing ethics back into our lives and understanding the value and importance of sustainability. They encouraged visitors to tell their stories of connection to nature and our Earth, and were inspired by the story of the West Coast First Nations peoples who impart indigenous teachings for a more sustainable way of life in Canada. Artist James Jetlag translated the story of Earth Charter Cities into a beautiful work of art, one oil drum to represent each chapter of the Earth Charter/Earth Charter Cities Manifesto.
At Summerlabb, Earth Charter Cities raised awareness of the Earth Charter and promoted the understanding of its inclusive ethical vision through starting conversations about ethics with curious visitors and passersby. They invited others to heed the call to action to transition to sustainable ways of living on the planet and to envision future cities taking care of mother Earth and the community of life. They asked, beyond technical innovations, what are economic and social-cultural aspects of this transition? They shared the Earth Charter as a tool, an ethical guideline, for our daily and professional lives.
For more information on Gerben van Straaten and the story of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, please go to www.earthchartercities.org. For more information on Summerlabb, visit http://summerlabb.nl/.
Nadine studied Built Environment and Architecture with a focus in cities and cultural heritage. During her studies she learned a lot about technical innovations and sustainability to redevelop industrial buildings. Taught and inspired by Gerben van Straaten, Walas Concepts CEO, she learned how to create truly healthy, inclusive, and sustainable communities. She believes in the need to enhance economic, social, and cultural values within urban settings. Driven by the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, Nadine works in the Netherlands as a Program Manager with the Walas team to develop vital and lively places for people to live.
In the Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Dutch Urban Design Centre (Dudoc) has Earth Charter Principle 7c at the core of its business model. Since opening its doors in October 2014, Dudoc Vancouver has been promoting the development, adoption and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Specifically, the centre showcases Dutch and other European companies’ environmentally sustainable products and services to the North American market. Dudoc Vancouver also serves as a forum for exchanging ideas among designers, urban planners, developers and architects across disciplines and continents.
Dudoc Vancouver’s goals, founded on the Earth Charter vision, are to:
Protect the environment and vital resources while creating positive outcomes for the communities in which we live.
Embrace creativity, innovation and change through diversity and inclusiveness.
Build enduring and reliable relationships through collaboration and engagement of citizens in our transition to a healthier world.
Induce change of current unsustainable practices by providing rational applications of our innovative techniques.
Provide visionary leadership and interactive management in the creation of healthy, resilient and diverse cities.
CEO Gerben van Straaten is part of the global Earth Charter movement. He was working as an urban designer in both the Netherlands and Canada and realized that there is a huge breadth and depth of technological and design innovation in the Netherlands. Meanwhile in Canada, demand for such innovations is growing rapidly. Van Straaten founded Dudoc to bridge the gap between these two places. North American city builders interested in making their projects more environmentally sustainable can now look to Dudoc for the latest European innovations.
An example of the partners exhibiting their products at Dudoc Vancouver is Jaga, a manufacturer of hydronic heaters. Jaga’s guiding values include respect for nature, as well as a passion for creativity, innovation and collaboration. Their energy-efficient systems help reduce the energy demand of buildings. They have also developed eco-design radiators made from 100% recycled materials, an example of applying Earth Charter principle 7a (reduction, reuse and recycling of materials). Dudoc Vancouver helps companies such as Jaga by providing a shared showroom space to exhibit products, international business development advice, market research, local connections and customer service.
In addition to the showroom, Dudoc facilitates the exchange of ideas that make our cities and buildings better places for all people. In the spirit of Earth Charter principle 14 on life-long learning, the centre enables a variety of activities in its space: panel discussions, educational talks, upcycling competitions, sustainable product showcases, art displays, exhibitions of Dutch Design, professional development workshops and more. Part of the space is used for flexible co-working for visiting partners as well as local freelancers and researchers. It also houses the City Hub Initiative – a space for young change-makers to meet, learn, and collaborate in order to make their projects a reality.
Through this combination of international business development, education and co-operation, Dudoc Vancouver strives to encourage sustainability in the built and social environment and aims to be a successful example of the Earth Charter in action.
Author: Josephine Schrott, Earth Charter Young Leader
Originally from Germany, but now calling Vancouver, Canada her home, Josephine Schrott is helping establish a Canadian Earth Charter network, with a focus on youth & community engagement. She studied International Relations and is passionate about building sustainable communities and inspired by the Earth Charter’s holistic approach addressing humanity’s most pressing problems. As part of World of Walas, she works at Dudoc Vancouver, a centre enabling European businesses to transfer their innovations to North America. In her time off, she does local activist and volunteer work and enjoys the beautiful Canadian outdoors.
100-1445 West Georgia St; Vancouver, BC
“dudoc-vancouver-showroom” View of Dudoc Vancouver showroom. PC: Edward Lai
“dudoc-vancouver-roundtable” We Are Cities Roundtable. PC: Paula Leyton
“dudoc-vancouver-dutch-design-exhibition” Dutch Design Supermodels exhibition. PC: Anna Brayko
“dudoc-vancouver-upcycled-fashion” Upcycled Fashion Show. PC: Anna Brayko
Global Goals Accelerator is an initiative to speed up consciousness and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Netherlands and beyond. The initiative was co-created by Sustainability Dialogue (Veronique Swinkels) and Earth Charter Netherlands (Alide Roerink) and carried out from June 7-July 5, 2016 with the support of various partners.
The collaborators organized a series of events, bringing together 30-40 diverse actors from different fields to focus in on a couple select SDGs per meeting. Each meeting began and ended with a young artist singing and playing a work related to the day’s theme, and was followed by presentations from top academics and practitioners who established the national and global context. Participants then had dinner together as they delved into conversations in small groups to discuss targeted solutions. Through this process, the Global Goals Accelerator engaged people across governmental and organizational sectors, both students and professionals, to take on the challenge of the SDGs in the Netherlands.
In addition to a greater awareness, urgency, and action directed toward the SDGs, the meetings have sparked new relationships and conversations, as participants continue their conversations on LinkedIn and plan to reconnect in August 2016.
On 20 March 2015, the Earth Charter International Secretariat organized the forum: “Finding Synergies, Building Bridges: Reorienting education towards sustainable development, sustainable consumption, and global citizenship”. The forum offered the chance for participants to analyze and clarify concepts of three interrelated United Nations education initiatives, in order to highlight each initiative’s respective importance, and identify common underlying values, synergies, and possible areas of collaboration. The discourse attempted to identify how the Earth Charter can further contribute to the process of clarifying values and be employed as an integrated ethical framework for these initiatives. The event was organized as part of the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Earth Charter
The education initiatives discussed were: Education for Sustainable Development, whose efforts have been coordinated by UNESCO; Education for Sustainable Consumption, coordinated by UNEP; and Global Citizenship Education, which is coordinated by the UN Secretary General’s office in together with UNESCO.
This one-day event took place at the Earth Charter Education Center located on the University for Peace campus in Costa Rica. Approximately 120 participants attended the Forum. It consisted of four sessions with panelists’ presentations and interaction with participants through questions and answers. The keynote speech was offered by Fritjof Capra, and Severn Cullis-Suzuki offered the closing remarks of this event.
The Global Campaign for Peace Education requested Earth Charter International Secretariat’s staff member Alicia Jimenez, to collaborate with an article for the Issue 119 of its newsletter for March 2015.
Guest post by Simran Vedvyas, Earth Charter Youth UAE
Dubai Cares and its initiatives are supporting millions worldwide by their support to Education and the residents are very proud to join in.
“I have participated every year since the first walk took place and this is my 6th time” says Simran Vedvyas, the founder of SynergY and Country Activator for Earth Charter UAE.
Dubai Cares organizes this Walk for Education, which calls upon residents and organizations in the UAE to walk three kilometers in solidarity with the millions of children in developing countries that walk long distances on a daily basis to go to school.
SynergY took part in support of the Dubai Cares initiative but also in support of the Earth Charter +15 celebrations under the slogan “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”. The members of SynergY enjoyed cheering and singing and even the group’s youngest participants Avishi Chauhan and Nithya Makin who are only six years old, completed the full walk.
SynergY has promoted the Walk through social media and has seen rise in number of participants each year. The group has a dedicated page for supporting the cause – says Aswathi Jayakumar, a student and group member. SynergY is constantly promoting and raising awareness about the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All is crucial and important, especially “Primary Education in developing countries”. SynergY learns from the Earth Charter and affirms gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and to ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity. SynergY asks all members of civil society to reach out and find how they can support and teach at least one child and how this will make a difference.
The UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, was held in Nagoya, Japan from 10-12 November. Members of the Earth Charter International Secretariat, Council, Commissioners, and Affiliates participated in this important event.
This Conference celebrated the end of the UN Decade on ESD and the launch of the new Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP), offering a good opportunity to galvanize political support and forge new impetus for this process with a call for renewed commitment.
Around 1,000 people from all over the world participated in the Conference including 76 ministerial-level representatives of UNESCO Member States (mostly from African and Asian countries), NGOs, academia, the private sector, and UN agencies, as well as individual experts and youth participants from 150 countries.
The final report launched during this Conference and called “Shaping the future we want: UN Decade oF ESD (2005 – 2014)” shows that progress has been made in raising awareness about ESD, in developing a number of national policies or programmes on ESD, in teacher training, and other efforts, but much more still needs to happen.
During the opening plenary, Mrs. Irina Bokhova highlighted the progress made on bringing forth the importance of education in sustainable development policies, and in changes in national policies to incorporate sustainable development in national curricula.
UNESCO sees this first ten-year effort as a solid foundation ground for future efforts on ESD, which will also involve strengthening the ESD part of the new Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Post-2015 agenda, which should also strengthen the links between education and sustainable development policies.
The following are specific outcomes of the Conference:
A political declaration that was drafted and adopted during the closing ceremony. TheAichi-Nagoya Declaration builds on the achievements of the Decade, the Bonn Declaration (2009) and the deliberations of the Conference and the Stakeholder Meetings which were held in Okayama. The Declaration also ensures that the outcomes of the Conference will be taken into account at the World Education Forum 2015 to be held in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The Government of Japan announced the creation of an ESD global award.
A new Global Action Programme on ESD was launched (GAP). The overarching goal of the GAP is “to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development”. There are five priority action areas of the GAP: a) Advancing policy; b) transforming learning and training environments; c) Building capacities of educators and trainers; d) empowering and mobilizing youth; e) accelerating sustainable solutions at local level.
GAP Launch Commitments: During the first semester of 2014, UNESCO called all sectors (governmental and non-governmental) to make specific commitments to implement the GAP. These commitments are plans for concrete activities that support one or more of the five Priority Action Areas. As of 12 November there were 360 commitments made (find the information in this map). During the closing ceremony, a commitment for each GAP priority area was presented. UNESCO selected ECI GAP Commitment on Youth to be presented at this plenary. ECI submitted two Commitments: one on teacher training and another one on youth empowerment and training, based on the work ECI has been doing and continues to do.
A number of workshops and side events as well as exhibitions, information booths were organized to offer more spaces for dialogue and sharing of experiences among all participants. In addition, several activities were organized to allow more participation of Japanese people. Earth Charter International organized several activities to share its experiences during the DESD.
Earth Charter activities at WCESD:
On Monday, 10 November ECI held a side event at noon called “Looking back to forge the future: Lessons learned from values-based ESD experiences” In this event, with approximately 60 participants, the ECI Secretariat and Council members presented some of the work done over the past few years to contribute to the Decade and to promote sustainability values in different educational settings.
The experience of the Earth Charter Japan Asia Pacific Committee was presented by Wakako Hironaka and she launched a new booklet put together in Japan called Earth Charter Manga. In addition, insights into the best ways to infuse sustainability values in diverse education environments were discussed. Kartikeya Sarabhai mentioned the importance of sensitivity to the local context, to allow adaptation and interpretation of a principle in a given context. Oscar Motomura shared one lesson that he has learned in his 30 years of experience with training of public and private executives: the importance of facilitating deep dialogue between people from different sectors. The challenge is that this requires time.
On Monday, 10 November in the afternoon, Mirian Vilela co-organized a workshop called “Ethics-Based Educational Innovation: Implications for Teaching and Learning” with Prof. Arjen Wals of the Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The workshop was well attended (around 150 participants), and the presentations and topic generated good interaction with participants.
This workshop explicitly focused on innovative teaching and learning, particularly the capacity building of educators and trainers, using the Earth Charter for illustrative purposes. Two concrete activities, designed to enhance innovative teaching and learning, were presented. First, Waverly Neuberger presented the case of how the Methodist University of Sao Paulo is reorienting itself towards ESD and using the Earth Charter. She offered many interesting insights and practical suggestions that those working in universities (or even in other type of organizations) can do to make change happen. One idea was to first sensitize and work with colleagues in reconnecting with themselves and nature, as well as having a sense of space and place to be able to see the importance of change with new eyes.
Second, Bob Jickling and Arjen Wals presented an analytical heuristic to assist educators in the evaluation of their own understandings of innovative teaching and learning. In this case the Earth Charter was used to contextualize the analytical tool. There was a rich and vibrant conversation on the role of ethics in formal education in general and the role of ethics in creating meaningful engagement—and action—around ESD. They mentioned that “interest on ethics is on the rise” because for more than 30 years we have known about the dangers of the way we are consuming and producing, but, we are not acting on it. He mentioned that we should avoid making people feel guilty, but make them feel that they can do something positive for other living beings, other humans, and for Planet Earth.
On Tuesday, 11 November in the afternoon, Wakako Hironaka and the Earth Charter Japan Committee organized an event called “ESD and the Earth Charter” mostly for a Japanese audience. Ms. Hironaka opened the event by putting the Earth Charter in a historical context, they launched the Earth Charter Manga booklet they put together, and Mirian Vilela made a presentation about the Earth Charter and some stories of how it’s being used. Presentations were also made by Prof. Tatsuro Kunugi, Prof. Tsuneo Takeuchi, both members of the Earth Charter, Asia-Pacific and Japan Committee, Edo Heinrich-Sanchez, ECI Affiliate from Okinawa, and Dr. Shin-Cheng, Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection of Taiwan. The event attracted about 200 participants.
The Earth Charter Education Center was selected as one of the 25 projects identified as best practices on ESD. In this sense, ECI was able to share materials and information on educational experiences at a booth in the Conference lobby, with Conference participants and the general public. This poster was created for the occasion of this Conference and was shown in the booth. It highlights key messages of several educational experiences with the Earth Charter in Latin America. (The reason to include only Latin American experiences is because the EC booth was in this region’s area).
Much of the future work of the Earth Charter Center on Education for Sustainable Development will contribute to the implementation of the GAP objectives which are: 1) “to reorient education and learning so that everyone has the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development”. 2) “to strengthen education and learning in all agendas, programmes and activities that promote sustainable development”.
Another contribution that ECI offered to the end of the Decade was a consultation about Latin American’s youth perspective on the Decade of ESD. This consultation was done in collaboration with: Futuro Latinoamericano Foundation in Ecuador, National University of Costa Rica, University of Guanajuato in Mexico, UNEP Regional Office in Panama and UNESCO Regional Office in Chile. Around 400 youth participated in this consultation, through online and face to face workshops. Find all the information about Latin American youth perspectives on ESD in this report (in Spanish).
You can find more information about the UNESCO Conference here.
And here a photo album of the Conference and ECI activities.
It was launched on November 10th, 2014 in a side event during the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, held in Nagoya, Japan. This publication is a contribution to the end of the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), and it also celebrates the launch of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
This publication was also displayed in the Earth Charter booth at the Conference venue in Nagoya, and this poster was created for that purpose.
The collection of 19 stories showcased in this publication celebrates the ongoing global effort to bring ethics and values into education at all levels: non formal, primary and secondary, and higher education.
The stories of this publication show the amazing diversity and creativity of educators around the world that are finding ways to bring sustainability values into teaching and learning, and by doing so are helping to accelerate sustainable development.
Peter Blaze Corcoran’s and Brandon P. Hollingshead’s edited book “Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership for Sustainable Futures” (ISBN 978-90-8686-252-8) was launched at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, from 10 – 12 November 2014.
The publication from Wageningen Academic Publications features a collection of scholarly articles on the theoretical frameworks and practical applications of intergenerational and transformative learning models developed over the last decade.
Earth Charter International’s director Mirian Vilela co-authored a chapter, with Marcello Hernandez, titled “Youth leadership and the Earth Charter: intergenerational cooperation and learning”. The chapter highlights some of the lessons learnt from past Earth Charter youth leaders engaging in knowledge exchange across generations.
Several other authors refer to the Earth Charter as a strong ethical guideline for advancing intergenerational learning and transformative leadership.
“Higher education for strong sustainability” by Rick Clugston and Wynn Calder underlines the need for institutions to employ a holistic understanding of sustainability, as outlined in the Earth Charter.
ECI’s former Youth Coordinator Dominic Stucker, together with Grace Mwaura and Frits Hesselink, introduces the Buddy Experiment, linking Earth Charter Council members to youth around the world, in order to foster guidance and inspiration.
In “Cultivating mentorship: Student Associates for a Greener Environment”, Maria F. Loffredo Roca and Andrew Stansell name Earth Charter principle 4, “Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations” as the foundation of the Student Associates for a Greener Environment programme.
“We must start with our own children”: reflectively researching intergenerational leadership for social justice, education and sustainability, Heila Lotz-Sisitka
From locust to honest bee: towards leadership philosophies for sustainability, John Fien
The future of learning for the future: Beyond the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainabile Development, Alexander Leicht
Transformative Learning and leadership for a sustainable future: Challenge Lab at Chalmers University of Technology, John Holmberg
Wicked leadership education: On student-led higher education and sustainability education, Sanna Barrineau and David O. Kronlid
Higher education for stronger sustainability, Rick Clugston and Wynn Calder
‘EYE for sustainability’: A learning tool for change agents, Valentina C. Tassone and Arjen E.J. Wals
Contradiction or complement: Can higher education be deeper education?, Stephen Sterling
An intergenerational perspective towards increasing young people’s contribution to agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, Philip M. Osano and Rahma I. Adam
Keeping culture and country strong: participatory methodologies to support intergenerational learning in Aboriginal Australia, Kirsten Maclean
The institutional dimension of sustainability: Policy response for enhanced practice at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Omar Osman, Kamarulazizi Ibrahim, Kanayathu Koshy and Marlinah Muslim
Empathethic apprentice: pedagogical developments in aesthetic education of the social learning practitioner in South Africa, Dylan McGarry
Leaderhship for global responsibility: values and key competencies for a profound shirt towards sustainabuility, Benjamin Kafak, Davod Seghezzi, Brigitta Villaronga, Christine Blome and Klaus Althoff
Participatory mapping for intergenerational learning and resilience in Ethiopia, Million Belay Ali
Child-centers sustainablabe development: Intergenerational learning approaches in Mexico’s central highlands, Sylvia van Dijk Kocherhaler and Jaime Hoogsteger
Developing a relational perspective on intergenerational learning, Ingrid Schudel
Connecting worlds: A Dutch intergenerational think tank initiative in action, Abraham Pieter Vingerling and Erik Thijs Wedershoven
Leadership for biodiversity in South Africa: transformation and capacity development in the GreenMatter programme, Eureta Rosenberg and Sibusiso T. Manzini
The Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies: experiental learning for intergenerational transformation, Wanjira Mathai
Reflecting on climate change education in the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, Elisabeth Hollande, Sarika Chand, Keith Morrison, Andra Whiteside, Fetalai Gagaeolo, Matthew Kensen, Judith Beverly Giblin and Kilateli Epu Falenga
Sustainable leadership and environmental education at the Centre for Environmental Education, South China Normal University, Eric Po keung Tsang
Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability: case studies from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Dominic Stucker, Grace Mwaura, and Frits Hesselink
Intercultural learning for sustainability: at the ‘nexus’ of the environment, communications and socioculture in Fiji, Yuichi Asai and Osamu Abe
Cultivating intergenerational mentorship: Student Associates for a Greener Environment, Maria F. Loffredo Roca and Andrew Stansell
Sustainability assessment methodology: measuring Universiti Sains Malaysia’s transformation to a sustainability-led university, Suzyrman Sibly, Asyirah Abdul Rahim, Fera Fizani Ahmed Fizri, Normaliza Abdul Manaf and Mahfuzah Othman
The Global University Partnership on Environment and Sustainability: promoting intergenerational learning, Mahesh Pradhan and Brian M. Waswala
Youth leadership and the Earth Charter: intergenerational cooperation and learning, Mirian Vilela and Marcello Hernández-Blanco
Towards a sustainability-oriented university: Tongji practice, Jiang Wu, Daijan Zhu, Hongwei Tan, Fengting Li, Ping Fang Shuqin Chen and Hua Chen
Global and regional networks to promote education for sutainable development in TVET: an Asia-Pacific perspective, Rupert Maclean and Margarita Pavlova
Leadership through service: advancing social justice through intergenerational learning at Florida Gulf Coast University A., James Wohlpart, Madina Behori, Jessica Drummond, David Green, Faith Hawk, Brandon P. Hollingshead, Brandon W. Kliewer, Lauren Morimanno, Jameson Moschella, Eric C. Otto, Mario Roche, Jessica Sauer and Sasha Linsin Wohlpart
Once again, Sam and Mirian collaborated to offer a compelling and successful programme on transformative learning and teaching using the Earth Charter. There were 16 participants, mostly from the Netherlands. The week consisted of five intensive days of training as well as guest lecturers in the evenings.
On Thursday evening, 16 October 2014, the class attended an Earth Charter Netherlands event titled “Right to Food” in celebration of World Food Day 2014. The event speakers included former Dutch Prime Minister and Earth Charter Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, ECI Director Mirian Vilela, Sam Crowell, bee expert Tom van de Beek (I Love Beeing), EC Youth Ayla van Kessel, Hanny van Geel from La Via Campesina, and Volkert Engelsman, Earth Charter Endorser and CEO of organic food wholesaler Eosta. Some 80 participants enjoyed an international meal and engaged in the network event, which was organized by NCDO, Inner Sense, UPeace The Hague, and Friends of the Earth Charter who together form Earth Charter Netherlands.
Here are some testimonial quotes from the programme participants:
First of all I’m very pleased that I took the course. It gave me confidence about the way I act. It made me a stronger person. I feel more connected with myself and my environment. I don’t think that I learned a lot in a cognitive way; it is more that I really met other people and myself in a beautiful way. My story has changed in a more positive and hopeful way. To describe it: I feel in my heart that I have taken great steps further for myself and my environment.
So I must say that I’m very thankful to Mirian and Sam and all the participants. I hope that my connection will be sustainable, so I have to take care of that. I hope we all stay connected.
The Earth Charter Masterclass offered me a more comprehensive way of looking at the interface between earth-based education, sustainable learning, and ecological pedagogy. The scientific input of Sam Crowell interweaved with a holistic view on the Earth Charter principles by Mirian Vilela opened a wider vision on the developmental possibilities of a true and authentic paradigm shift in education. The most valuable understanding I gained from the course: “That a living learning community (Sam calls it a ‘learning culture’!) breathes an ongoing collective story, not static but dynamic, and told by ever-changing windows on the world…” With this, our Earth School in the Netherlands feels empowered to spread the word and develop a concept for Earth Charter–based learning communities in the world. Last week we introduced a new ‘meta curriculum’ in our school: each of the four seasons of the year is dedicated to one of the main Earth Charter values; school subjects like math and languages are naturally embedded within these themes. For this autumn, the EC value is “ecological integrity” and the students chose the theme ‘bees and the web of life’. We feel grateful and connected…”
Mirjam Olsthoorn, PermaLand Foundation / Aardeschool
The masterclass ‘Education and values for sustainability: teaching what really matters’ has been a great inspiration for my work as an educational researcher at a teacher training college, and for me as a person. It offers a balanced combination of theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge, and opportunities to put these sets of knowledge to work through dialogue and activities. The trainers each bring their expertise and life stories and have found a way to combine these in such a way that the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts. For me, as a researcher, Sam Crowell offers the perfect example of how research can be a matter of the mind and the heart. While the participants were all somehow working in the field of education, they brought a wide range of backgrounds, orientations, and perspectives to the programme. This diversity sparked dialogues, offered examples that made you think outside your usual frame of reference, and added depth to the shared understanding that evolved throughout the week. It has been highly inspirational to discover that ideas that I believe to lie at the heart of any discussion and inquiry into what ‘good education’ should and could be about, are so widely shared and valued.
Joining the earth charter master class felt very good because I felt that I was a part of a big, worldwide positive movement. It gave me hope and reassured me that there are many people all over the world determined to put their energy towards making the world a better place for everybody living now and for generations to come.
It felt good to make and feel the connections with other people with the same hopes, and together share our views on subjects concerning a better world and especially what we can do to implement this in our daily work: the field of education. For me, many important things were said, but three words stand out and I feel strong and determined to take any opportunity to emphasize them, hoping to guide other people around me to see them too:
1. CONNECTION: – When there is no connection there will be no learning. – When a school is not connected with the community around it, learning is difficult. – 1 + 1 = 3: if we dare to share and work together the outcome can be much more than expected.
2. HOLISTIC: When people (colleagues, teachers, students, stakeholders) see the bigger picture (= have a holistic view = are aware of interconnectedness of important things in life) learning will be for life and not be limited to one subject at a certain moment.
3. INTERWOVEN: In education, awareness for the needs of our planet and its people will grow most when it is made visible interwoven with the subject you are teaching at that moment. These are my personal lessons learned at the earth charter master class. I thank you for your inspiration, and please keep on spreading the earth charter principles around the world. I hope we will do it with more and more people and I will be one of them!
Transformative Teaching and Learning with the Earth Charter
The Earth Charter is a universal expression of ethical principles to foster sustainable development.
The Earth Charter Initiative is the global network that embraces, uses and integrates the Earth Charter principles.