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What is ESD?

History | Manitoba Priorities | Definitions | Characteristics

Key Characteristics of Education

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014 – Draft International Implementation Scheme (October 2004) identifies six main characteristics that education for sustainable development should feature. These characteristics are:

  • Interdisciplinary and holistic: learning for sustainable development embedded in the whole curriculum, not as a separate subject;
  • Values driven: it is critical that the assumed norms – the shared values and principles underpinning sustainable development - are made explicit so that that (sic) can be examined, debated, tested, and applied;
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: leading to confidence in addressing the dilemmas and challenges of sustainable development;
  • Multi-methods: word, art, drama, debate, experience, ... different pedagogies which model the process. Teaching that is geared simply to passing on knowledge should be recast into an approach in which teachers and learners work together to acquire knowledge and play a role in shaping the environment in their educational institutions;
  • Participatory decision making: learners participate in decisions on how they are to learn;
  • Locally relevant:  addressing local as well as global issues, and using the language(s) which learners most commonly use. Concept of sustainable development must be carefully expressed in other languages - languages and cultures say things differently, and each language has creative ways of expressing new concepts. 1

Education for Sustainable Development

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (October 2004). United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014- Draft International Implementation Scheme United Nations p 16.