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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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'How to save the planet - Now on Internet and CD': the Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future program

John Fien
Director, Griffith University EcoCentre, Queensland

There are over 60 million teachers in the world, and they are key agents for bringing about the changes in lifestyles required to achieve a sustainable future. For this reason, teacher education has been given high priority within the United Nations' plans for the promotion of sustainable development.

UNESCO's major contribution to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development was the multimedia program Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future. It is now being revised and updated, ready for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development which starts in January 2005.

The program contains 25 modules for a total of around 100 hours of highly interactive activities, designed to:

  • enhance teachers' understanding of sustainable development and develop an appreciation of the scope and purpose of Education for a Sustainable Future
  • promote practical skills for integrating sustainable development themes into all subject areas of the curriculum
  • enhance skills for using a wide range of interactive and learner-centred teaching and learning strategies that underpin the knowledge, critical thinking, values and citizenship objectives implicit in reorienting education towards sustainable development.
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future combines the power of Internet technology and multimedia professional training strategies. The modules address the difficult challenge of planning for whole-school change, teaching interdisciplinary themes, using learner-centred approaches to classroom teaching, and developing outcomes-based assessment strategies.

The program's multimedia format means that it can be used by teachers either independently or in small self-study groups, even in isolated locations.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is also cost free, as UNESCO has absorbed research and development costs.

All 25 modules have been written to a common format to facilitate ease of navigation and use. Each module includes

  • A common set of five headings - introduction, objectives, activities, references and credits
  • Experiential learning strategies that invite you to analyse and interpret information in a variety of forms (e.g. text, tables, diagrams, and linked WWW-sites), apply the ideas you develop to your own curriculum and teaching contexts and practices, and reflect on these ideas in relation to your deepening appreciation of education for a sustainable future, via a ' Learning Journal' that can be used for on-going professional reflection and as student learning material
  • Links to over 500 Internet sites which provide multiple perspectives and can enrich critical thinking about the emerging concepts of sustainable development and education for a sustainable future, and provide alternatives for developing learning activities for students.


Curriculum Rationale
1. Exploring global realities
2. Understanding sustainable development
3. A futures perspective in the curriculum
4. Reorienting education for a sustainable future
5. Accepting the challenge

Teaching about Sustainability Across the Curriculum
6. Sustainable futures across the curriculum
7. Citizenship education
8. Health education
9. Consumer education

Interdisciplinary Curriculum Themes
10. Culture and religion for a sustainable future
11. Indigenous knowledge and sustainability
12. Women and sustainable development
13. Population and development
14. Understanding world hunger
15. Sustainable agriculture
16. Sustainable tourism
17. Sustainable communities

Teaching and Learning Strategies
18. Experiential learning
19. Story-telling
20. Values education
21. Enquiry learning
22. Appropriate assessment
23. Future problem-solving
24. Learning outside the classroom
25. Community problem solving

Technical requirements

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is designed for a minimum hardware and software standard. However, any hardware capable of running a version 4.0 browser should be able to adequately support access to the materials. Although designed for a Windows 95 operating system, the program will also run on a Macintosh PowerPC system.

Minimum requirements: A Pentium 200 MHz MMX computer 32 Mb RAM; SVGA monitor, capable of 800x600 resolution in 16-bit true colour; 16 bit stereo sound card and speakers, modem or network card; and a 1.44 Mb Floppy Drive and/or 16x CD-ROM (if these are to be used).

For internet access you will require a 28.8kbs modem or better, and a version 4.0 browser (or higher) with Shockwave and Real Player (Real Audio) Plug-Ins.

The program is also available on CDROM.


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