How Do We Prepare Graduates to Thrive in the 21st Century?

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

How do we provide quality education that prepares children to live and thrive in a rapidly changing world? Depending on where you live in the world, there are some cultural differences in how a quality education is delivered, but the goals are the same around the globe.

Faye in China 3From the children of Nomads in Mongolia to teenagers in Beijing, education systems are being reoriented so that everyone has the opportunity to get the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Research and case studies showing how these goals are being realized was the focus of the third Asia Pacific Education for Sustainable Development Expert Meeting held in Beijing June 2-4, 2015.

Educators from the Philippines, Canada, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Laos, Sweden, Thailand, China and the U.S. participated in the meeting. Having been invited to share the work of KDP in advancing the understanding of education for sustainabile development (ESD), I was honored to have the opportunity to learn from international colleagues who have made substantial progress in infusing ESD in their national education systems.

Faye in China 2During our two days together, we reviewed global evidence related to the successes and challenges of delivering quality education through the implementation of ESD. A common reference point for many of the discussion and presentations was the findings from a recently released research report which studied 18 countries that incorporate sustainability in their education and traditional disciplines to prepare graduates to thrive in the 21st Century. The research results provide abundant evidence that ESD contributes to a quality education and promotes the learning of skills, perspectives, and values necessary to foster and maintain sustainable societies.

Faye in China 1As is so often the case, it is through conferring with others who are doing similar work that helps us to grow professionally and be inspired by others’ successes. I look forward to using the experiences and insights of this new group of colleagues to help inform KDP’s effort to infuse ESD in the U.S. education system and to grow a widespread commitment to include the important goals of educating for a sustainable future in our classrooms.

If you would like to learn more about education for sustainable development, University of Edinburg in Scotland is offering a free online course starting June 22. This five-week course requires a 1-3 hour time commitment each week. University of Edinburgh produces high quality ESD programs and materials. Learn more about the course on the Learning for Sustainability: Developing a Personal Ethic web page.

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