An investment in LSF is an investment in a sustainable future, where educating our youth is the key.
Supporting the UN Decade of ESD
2005-2014 is the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD). LSF is leading Canada’s response to the Decade through support of a National ESD Expert Council and Provincial/Territorial ESD Working Groups. These networks of public, private and civil society leaders are supporting leadership, innovation, collaboration, research and monitoring to advance ESD within the formal, non-formal and informal education systems across Canada.
Resources for Rethinking (R4R) www.r4r.ca
R4R is a free online database where educators and the general public can search for the highest quality, peer-reviewed, curriculum-matched teaching resources on issues related to the development of an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable society. To date, 90,000 visitors have accessed the 650 resources available online.
Project FLOW: For the Love of Water
Project FLOW engages elementary and secondary students in hands-on experiential projects that take action about water issues! Project FLOW provides workshops for teachers to help them facilitate action projects with their students that connect to the curriculum. The Project FLOW Fund, up to $3,000 per school, provides funding for the implementation of action projects that use resources on the R4R.ca web site. Special focus is given to Aboriginal and rural communities.
Step outside for Learning brings awareness to the many environmental education learning opportunities that occur in the school yard and neighbourhood. Through this program, teachers receive bimonthly emails highlighting natural events currently taking place often just outside their schools encouraging them to take their class outside twice a month to look at biodiversity issues. These outside explorations are linked to resources on the Resources4rethinking.ca database that the teacher could use to extend the learning in the classroom. This project brings the classroom into the community and the community into the classroom. Taking advantage of nearby learning opportunities is a low cost and effective approach that is useful throughout the seasons.
Youth Forums and Action Projects
LSF hosts Youth Forums across the country that engage students in action projects. The Forums connect youth with local government, business and community sustainability leaders to support them in the development and implementation of action projects in their school and community. To date, LSF has delivered 37 Youth Forums, engaging 800 schools, 1,600 teachers, over 5,000 students and 1,500 community groups in sustainability action projects.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) schools use sustainability as an integrating context for teaching and learning, decision-making, civic engagement, community partnerships, and campus practices. They integrate operations, the physical surroundings, curriculum, and extra-curricular activities to foster the creation of responsible citizens. Our showcase school is the Stouffville District Secondary School in York Region.
Secondary school structures and timetables provide little opportunity for students to understand and take action on sustainability issues, such as climate change, energy, food/agriculture, that cut across many subject areas. Two, three, and four credit course packages available in some secondary schools in Ontario facilitate integrated learning and engage at-risk students. LSF will support and expand the delivery of these multi-credit programs to model sustainability as an integrating context, engaging students in action projects that advance technological, research, monitoring and other aspects of ESD.
Public concern over sustainability issues such as climate change, poverty/hunger, and the environmental impacts on health is increasing. What do citizens, including our youth, need to know and value to make responsible choices. LSF will host a series of public dialogues, bringing together educators, researchers, business, government and non-government organizations to help shape formal and informal education programs to maximize their impact.
Connecting the Dots
Teachers need a practical guide to help them address sustainability as the context for relevant, meaningful and active learning. LSF will produce a guide that simplifies, for classroom teachers at both the elementary and secondary level, what it means to address ESD. What is “systems thinking”? How do I get students to look at the various perspectives of an issue like climate change? What are the strategies for thinking critically about the food vs biofuel debate?
LSF supports professional learning networks and summer camps for educators to develop their ESD teaching skills. Teachers develop theme-based units that use sustainability to integrate subjects, field test them in their classrooms, and then share their results with the network.
ESD Innovation Awards
LSF will identify leaders in ESD and provide annual awards for ESD innovation. Award categories include: Action Project Award, ESD Teacher Award, ESD School Award, ESD School Board Award, ESD Resource Award, and ESD Policy Award. The winners would be announced at the Annual ESD Symposium. The awards would be used to inspire action and systemic change.
LSF will set up a number of post-secondary scholarships to support students studying education for sustainable development at York University. With a minimum gift of $50,000, donors will leverage matching funds through the Graduate Support Matching Program – with an impact of quadrupling the original gift – creating a permanently named endowed fund. This endowment will provide a yearly internship for a graduate student to undertake applied research with Learning for a Sustainable Future. Students will be drawn the Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Law, and the Faculties of Education, and Environmental Studies.
Marketing of LSF Initiatives
Communicating the complex challenges of sustainable development and the role of education in facilitating informed decision-making and action is always a challenge. LSF is a small NGO with a very big ESD footprint (which in this case is a good thing!) We have been told that we are “the best kept secret”!! LSF is seeking direction and support for marketing and communication.
Key Strategies that Transform Learning
From Environmental Education to Citizenship and Sustainability