Best Practice

Environmental sustainability: Actions secondary schools can take

The views of young people have helped to create a new manifesto for environmental sustainability in secondary education. Dr Elizabeth Rushton and Dr Lynda Dunlop explain

Back in the 1930s, a satirist depicted a Palaeolithic society facing extinction because of its resistance to changing its core curriculum of fish‐grabbing, horse‐clubbing, and tiger‐scaring – skills that had been rendered useless by climate change caused by an approaching ice age.

Today, as the COP26 summit in Glasgow has highlighted, we face a similar problem – our education systems are failing humanity in the context of climate change.

As the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE, 2012) has observed: “Education often contributes to unsustainable living. This can happen through a lack of opportunity for learners to question their own lifestyles and the systems and structures that promote those lifestyles. It also happens through reproducing unsustainable models and practices.”

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