Earth Charter International hosts the 2024 Conference “Reimagining Education for Ecological Civilizations” 

The 2024 Earth Charter International Conference, held at Rollins College in Florida, USA from 12-14 April, centered on the theme “Reimagining Education for Ecological Civilizations”, brought together 155 participants from various countries including university professors, school teachers, representatives from business and nonprofit organizations, as well as Earth Charter Educators and Young Leaders, among others. The conference, organized under the framework of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development and the UNESCO UNITWIN Cooperation Programme on Education for Sustainable Development and Social Transformation, aimed to foster collaboration among innovative approaches to education, share education experiences contributing to ecological civilization, and explore new ways to orient education toward creating such civilizations.  

The conference opened with remarks by: 

  • Michael J. Bracken, Chair, ECI Board 
  • Grant Cornwell, President, Rollins College 
  • Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International (ECI) 

Keynote speakers like Jeremy Lent and Mary Evelyn Tucker highlighted the shift needed from a worldview of separation to one of connection, emphasizing the role of education in realizing this shift.  

  • James Wohlpart, President, Central Washington University, shared how he is working to make CWU an example of a university that is coherent in all aspects with the vision of sustainability, using the Earth Charter as a framework. 
  • Sam Crowell, ECI Council, USA Imagining an Ecological Civilization Through the Lens of the Earth Charter  
  • Peter Blaze Corcoran, Professor Emeritus, Florida Gulf Coast University and Senior Advisor Earth Charter International and Cesar Baldelomar, Mount Holyoke College and Boston College, USA, offered a presentation called Dreaming Together: Reflections on the Principle of Intergenerational Equity – 
  • Namrata Sharma, State University of New York, and ANGEL Network, India/USA offered an insightful presentation on “Pedagogical Implications of Framing Sustainability, Inclusion, and Global Citizenship through the Principles of the Earth Charter” 
  • Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Chair, ECI Council and Regional Adviser for Africa, United Nations University/RCE’s, Nigeria closed the conference with an inspirational speak and call to act with Courage to Reimagine the Future 

Various sessions and panels delved into the meaning of ecological civilization, global citizenship, sustainability, and ethics and how this can be fostered through education. Panel speakers discussed the incorporation of ecological civilization concepts into national policies, particularly notable in China, where it has been enshrined in the National Constitution. The Earth Charter emerged as a key ethical reference and educational tool in these discussions. 

Throughout the conference, presentations covered a wide array of topics, from pedagogical approaches for sustainable living to grassroots initiatives promoting climate change literacy. Engaging with youth was a significant focus, with discussions on effective communication and empowerment strategies, and a presentation on the work ECI has been doing to engage and empower them to contribute to sustainable development. The conference also showcased practical implementations of Earth Charter principles in university courses, emphasizing compassion, democratic skills, and interdisciplinary learning. The experience of developing and implementing the Earth Charter & ESD School Seal was also shared.  

The event featured diverse cultural elements, including artwork and presentations reflecting Chinese and Japanese influences. Attendees were reminded of the interconnectedness between nature and human values through handmade soap flowers crafted with Earth Charter-inspired messages. The conference concluded with a call to action for collaborative efforts across generations to advance ecological civilizations, echoing the principles of interconnectedness and shared responsibility advocated throughout the event. 

For more detailed information, you can access the Conference Overview Report.

Conference Materials: 

ECI extends heartfelt gratitude to the generous sponsors whose invaluable support made the 2024 Earth Charter Conference a reality. Their commitment played a pivotal role in bringing together diverse voices and fostering meaningful dialogue.