This ain't your average green club - a case study in educating for sustainable development

Environmental education is tough at the secondary level. Concerns for the environment are typically the responsibility of a small green team or science class. The question of how to address sustainability within the school culture, and not just one club or lesson plan, is examined using the case study of a secondary school in the greater Toronto area in the 08-09 school year. Facilitated by an external non-profit agency, whole-school approaches are used to encourage educating for sustainable development and the efficacy of this process is explored.

Students in the school participate in the EcoSource Secondary Green Schools program for the entire school year which includes workshops, events, campaigns, retreats and celebrations aimed at slowly transforming the school into a more sustainable institution. The goal is to have the school community and facilities serve as a sustainable model for students. Desired environmental and social ethics such as responsibility, stewardship, and personal accountability are addressed in the formal curriculum and reinforced through the modeling of sustainable actions. Schools that teach about conserving forests or water transparently “walk the talk” with school-wide policies, campaigns, teaching practices, and actions that support these lessons. This research explores the process of moving beyond the green club to have the entire school embody the process of learning and educating for sustainable development.