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.

It’s World Environment Day (WED)

Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

Message by Achim Steiner

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

Achim SteinerLiving in an increasingly globalized world, inhabited by 7 billion people, it is easy to underestimate the power of individual action. The annual World Environment Day (WED) on Friday, June 5, 2015, reminds people across the globe that it is our personal choices that shape the world around us. Our daily decisions as consumers, multiplied by billions, have a colossal impact on the environment – some of them contribute to the further depletion of natural resources, others help to protect fragile ecosystems. Every time – the choice is ours.

The theme for this year’s celebrations, Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care, emphasizes that personal responsibility each one of us bears for enabling inclusive and sustainable economic development while stabilizing and reducing the rate of resource use.

Today, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are one of the major causes of the continued deterioration of the global environment. There is no doubt that the “great acceleration” of the last 50 years has seen a rapid transformation of the human relationship with the natural world – more so than in any other period in our history – with escalating use of natural resources leading to environmental degradation.

We must ask ourselves what the consequences of this pace of consumption and trajectory of population growth—forecasted to reach nine billion by 2050—will be. Under current trends, global extraction of resources is set to reach 140 billion ton by 2050, compared to around 7 billion ton in 1900. This will probably exceed the availability and accessibility of resources, as well as the carrying capacity of the planet to absorb the impacts of their extraction and use.

We simply cannot afford the waste, as resources are diminishing and prices are rising. But there is still time to transform the challenges of dwindling and finite resources into opportunities that will promote prosperous economies and a healthy planet for generations to come.

I would like to invite everyone to imagine what the world would be like if each of the 7 billion people made one change towards a more responsible consumption of resources. I would like you to hold on to that vision and strive to make it reality—be it refusing to buy single-use plastic bags or riding a bike to work.

WED is the opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change.

Try one of these 26 possible changes you can make—that’s one every two weeks or one for every letter of the alphabet:

  1. Avoid increasing your daily carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint by carpooling, riding a bike, or walking.
  2. Bring your own eco-bag or basket when going shopping.
  3. Clean up by organizing a trash collection drive in your neighborhood.
  4. Download one or more of these posters to use in your classroom to help your students become environmentally aware:
  5. Email your friends and colleagues about World Environment Day and encourage them to take action.
  6. Find out more about your carbon footprint at the Global Footprint Network.
  7. Google all the ways you can “Go Green.”
  8. Host an event: a tree planting, an art exhibit, a walk, a bike ride.
  9. Invite your friends and neighbors to your event and use it as a way to help them become more aware and post a picture of your event on Instagram.
  10. Just buy what you need so you don’t waste food or other precious resources. Purchase with sustainability of our planet in mind:
  11. Keep your bottle caps and use them to make Cap Kits:
  12. Learn about sustainable Lifestyles at
  13. Message your friends about WED—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, text, phone, or email.
  14. Nitrogen-fixing plants like clover or alfalfa should be planted in your garden for the winter to hold the soil and replenish the nutrients and then tilled under in the spring to add more nutrients.
  15. Optimize the use of your washing machine by using cold wash options.
  16. Plant a fruit tree or a garden and share the bounty with your neighbors.
  17. Quit talking about what others should do and implement a plan for yourself.
  18. Reuse. Recycle. You’ve heard it before, but it’s true and bears teaching explicitly in our classrooms and implicitly by our actions and example. The less waste we throw into landfills, the less harmful greenhouse gases are released into the planet’s atmosphere.
  19. Switch your lightbulbs to fluorescents or LED. Save energy and money.
  20. Take public Transportation whenever and wherever you can.
  21. Unplug from social media and your computer for a whole evening or a whole day and really focus on your family or friends to improve your quality of life and theirs.
  22. Vanish energy Vampires—appliances that suck energy even when turned off—unplug them when you aren’t using them or use power strips with them.
  23. Watch your Water use! Check for leaky faucets and toilets, turn off the water while brushing your teeth, and take shorter showers.
  24. EXplore more ways to take action for WED and the planet:
  25. You can make a difference and You can influence Young people to make a difference.
  26. Zero waste is your goal, so use natural resources wisely.

Please add your ideas in the comments!

Every Day is Earth Day

Jim Poyser left his long career in journalism to become executive director of Earth Charter Indiana in 2013. ECI’s youth program, Youth Power Indiana, engages youth in stewardship and leadership practices; ECI’s other main program is Sustainable Indiana 2016, which encourages sustainability actions across the state.

Photo by Michelle Craig

Photo by Michelle Craig

When people ask me why I never take a day off from my work at Earth Charter Indiana, I always kid them with the following thought experiment: Do you ever wake up, get ready to go work, open the door, and there’s no there there?

Mother Nature never takes a day off, why should I?

Funny thing is, it’s true. I don’t take days off, and I actually wouldn’t know what that meant anyway. I am very fortunate that my job is my passion and engages all of my creativity. How do you take a day off from that?

That’s what I would wish for YOU this Earth Day: that you find a similar arrangement – if you haven’t already – for yourself. I submit it doesn’t even have to be about stewardship, per se, just an alignment of heart, purpose and personal sustainability.

So what do we do at Earth Charter Indiana? Find the interconnections between our too-numerous-to-count global challenges—environmental degradation, economic disparity and political apathy. Right now, because there are so few organizations in Indiana directly fighting climate change, we are focusing on that, connecting the dots around sustainability and stewardship.

To that end we combine art with science to celebrate and showcase our growing consciousness and action. We aim to raise everyone to leadership, especially our youth. But I don’t think you need to read about that right now. You can click on the links in my bio, below, to explore more.

Instead, in this short space I have, I will make the assumption you know something is terribly wrong in the way we live; it’s not sustainable. We’ve become disconnected from nature and democracy. All the creatures are suffering from it. And we have to change quickly to head off the worst effects of our climate crisis and consumer craziness.

What to do? The answers are standard but true. Pick something you love that also demonstrates your love for the earth and do it well and all the time. For me, it is riding my bicycle as much as possible, even in terrible weather. For you, it might be being vegetarian or vegan. Or growing your own food. Or reducing your waste to the point where your trash can gathers cobwebs!

Once you get started on that garden or that waste reduction project at home, etc., then take it to your neighborhood and to your place of employment.

Take your growing awareness and action and go to the next level: demand your institutions (including your own personal portfolio) take their investments out of fossil fuels and put them into clean energy like solar and wind. Divestment is one of the most powerful movements imaginable (money talks!)—and it is happening on a worldwide basis.

Run for office, or support a candidate who shares your urgency and is not afraid to go against the political popularity contest our democratic system has become.

Have courageous conversations with those who are unwilling to grasp scientific reality or to accept the responsibility of being a good steward.

Hug a teacher, for they could use the encouragement.

Mostly, be joyful and happy in the progress you make, because it will inspire others to create their own adventure of living every day as if it were Earth Day.

What’s Your Professional Identity?

2014 International Research Conference

Dr. Jodi Nickel is chair in the Department of Education at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can watch a video about the project she details below. She will be sharing this research at the Kappa Delta Pi conference, October 2-4, 2014.

As a teacher educator, I am always curious about my teacher candidates’ experiences of dissonance as they develop their professional identity. My research studies teacher candidates who are beginning to find themselves as teachers – to resolve the tensions between the teachers they aspire to be and the challenges that threaten those aspirations.

nickel_jodiI want to share a story with you that might seem familiar.

Tyrell had the sweetest smile and a lovely singsong voice as he cheerfully bounced into his first-grade classroom. Along with his classmates, he applauded when it was time for Writer’s Workshop and happily filled reams of booklets with drawings and stories. The only problem was, Tyrell seldom got to the writing part.

I would crouch beside his desk as he shared his stories with me and urge, “Tyrell, let’s try to write some of the words for your story.” He indulged me while I guided him to stretch out the words and write the letter sounds he heard but returned to creating his wordless books as soon as I moved on.

How could I help him?

The next day, I decided to hand out phonics worksheets in lieu of Workshop. My students asked, “Don’t we get to do Writer’s Workshop?” “Today we’re going to work on some ‘sh’ words,” I replied. The energy was swiftly sucked out of the room.

So why did I resort to phonics worksheets that might possibly achieve the latter goal but certainly crushed the former?

Korthagen (2013) suggests that teachers often experience such dissonance when they face a teaching challenge and respond in ways that run counter to the teachers they aspire to be. They may lack the competencies to respond more appropriately or they may fail to consider the beliefs that led them to choose that particular course of action.

In Tyrell’s case, perhaps I didn’t really believe he could grow as a writer unless I compelled him to practice phonics skills, but this didn’t match the vision I had for myself as a teacher.

Korthagen urges teachers to consider their identity – “Who am I in my work?” and mission – “What inspires me?”

177403572That will be the focus of my keynote speech at Learning, Leadership, and Practice: Educating Global Citizens, an international conference taking place Oct. 2-4 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The conference, co-hosted by Kappa Delta Pi and Mount Royal University, will bring together education researchers and experts, teachers, administrators, and students who have theoretical and practical knowledge of the education of children and adults for global citizenship.

We’re hoping you’ll come and present your scholarly work, too! Proposals are currently being accepted for papers, presentations, and poster displays (June 30 deadline) and, if accepted, will be included in an online publication of the conference proceedings.

I hope you’ll consider learning more about this conference and submitting your proposal today. I’d love to share my research with you and hear your research discoveries, too. I look forward to meeting you in Calgary!

How Are You Making the World a Better Place Today?

Laura Stelsel is director of marketing and communications for Kappa Delta Pi.

logo-world-environment-dayDid you know that June 5 is World Environment Day? It was established by the UN in 1972 as “the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.”  This year’s theme is Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level.

Sustainability is an extremely important initiative of Kappa Delta Pi. In fact, we are a partner of UNESCO, a specialized agency of the UN, to advance the work of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). We feel it’s our duty, and that of every educator across the globe, to teach children about being responsible global citizens, and ESD is a huge part of that responsibility.

So, we want to know: what do you do in your life or in your classroom to advocate for sustainability? And what are you going to do TODAY for the environment?

Even if you share info about World Environment Day via Facebook, recycle your yogurt container at lunch, bring your own bags to the grocery store, or finally make the switch from bottled water–every bit makes a difference. We want to hear all of your ideas, small and large.

Here are a few websites you may want to check out:

The EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator: allows you to answer a few questions to calculate your household’s carbon footprint and provides information on how to reduce the footprints we are all leaving behind. asks you trivia questions and donates 10 grains of rice for each question you answer correctly. Some fun facts: 5,134,830 grains of rice were donated yesterday through this website and over 100 billion grains have been donated to date (that’s almost 16 million meals). According to the website FreeRice has two goals, to provide education to everyone for free and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

Tell us: do you have any go-to sustainability websites and resources? Share them with us!

Share How YOU Are Changing the World!

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

Kappa Delta Pi has an ongoing commitment to advance the integration of education for sustainable development (ESD), a principle that helps people develop attitudes, skills, and knowledge to solve environmental, societal, and economic issues as they relate to sustainability.

We recently sent out a call to action, encouraging members to incorporate one activity, project, or lesson related to sustainability and share their implementation of this, or any other sustainability effort, with us.

Mary Ann Hodges, a middle school teacher in North Carolina, shared what her class is doing within their local community:

ESDThe students at Manteo Middle school in North Carolina have been taking advantage of the many resources in our area. My eighth grade class went to the Coastal Studies Institute to explore our existing community and then drafted a vision for this community if we were to start over. The experience brought to light many issues that they never really considered before, and the results were amazing.  We’ve also worked with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to plant and maintain a rain garden as well as look at what is going in our landfill and ways to decrease what ends up there.  

Other members are working to advance ESD on an international level.  Dr. Donald May of Daytona State College of Education shared information about their Teaching Beyond Borders (TBB) initiative, which provides professional development for educators in Haiti, the majority of whom have had no formal training as educators, and to promote literacy. Dr. May said:

The foundational belief of the program is that education is the most powerful force we can use to change our world. Teachers in Haiti face enormous challenges. Out of approximately 60,000 teachers in Haiti, 84 percent are not qualified. Teachers also lack training opportunities, materials, and access to technology, as well as adequate remuneration. TBB’s aim is to collaborate to better meet the needs of the Haitian students, to model good teaching, and to inspire, support, and value the work of our teacher colleagues.

And now, we want to know what YOU are doing to inspire sustainability education and change in your classroom and community. Please send projects, ideas, and photos to me at Our hope is to compile and share these ideas with the KDP community in an effort to amplify our efforts. As Mary Ann put it, “My message to follow educators is to look within your community, bring in other professionals, branch out beyond your classroom, and look at ways to incorporate the ideas within your school with the hope that it carries over into the homes and then the community.”

Need ideas or resources? Head to the Kappa Delta Pi website.

I can’t wait to learn more about your sustainability efforts. Together we can make the world a better place for all forever.

Happy Earth Day!

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

faye snodgress 2The celebration of Earth Day is another reminder of our interdependence as human beings with our environment and all living things. With the increasing global focus on current and future challenges resulting from climate change and the growing evidence of its impact on all of us, now is the time for a united effort to ensure a better world for all forever.

Education is at the heart of Earth Day. As a teacher, you are a change agent who can help students understand the many aspects of sustainability—not just environmental—and the many possible roles in creating a more equitable and better society for today and tomorrow.

We hope you are able to  incorporate one  Earth Day/sustainable discussion, activity, or project in your classroom today and every day.  Through this one action, YOU will be making a difference!

For ideas and resources, check out the links below.

UN Report Shows Need for Wider Access to Education in Africa

William Merriman is Professor and Dean of the School of Education & Health at Manhattan College. He is one of KDP’s representatives to the United Nations.

William Merriman 05On April 11, Mr. Carlos Lopes, UN Under Secretary-General, gave a report on the 2014 economic status of Africa. The overall theme of the report was that African countries are growing, but their growth has been non-inclusive and there is a need for a new industrial policy framework.

The report indicates that there is a need for wider access to basic services, including education. The Report (pp. 23-28) gives some indicators of the present status of education in Africa:

  • Attending primary school is becoming the norm with most countries having achieved universal primary enrollment (above 90 percent).
  • Nearly half of African countries have achieved gender parity in primary school but there is still bias toward male access over female access.
  • Children and adolescents from the poorest households are at least three times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest households.
  • Secondary school enrollment is at 40 percent in Africa.
  • Even with an increase in teachers of 59 percent between 1999 and 2010, the number of new teachers needed in Africa to achieve just universal primary education has been calculated at more than 2 million.
  • In many countries, the proportion of teachers trained to national standards is very low, and teachers may often lack the necessary subject knowledge and ability to deliver instruction effectively.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2014), Economic Report on Africa 2014 – Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UNECA.

Nelson Mandela: It is in your hands to make a difference!

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

Nelson MandelaAs the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela and reflects on his enduring impact in the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a global culture of peace, it is the values that guided his life that must continue to be embraced by people around the world.

Consistent with the aims of education for sustainable development, Mandela encouraged change that would create a more viable and fairer South African society by focusing on the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, uplifting those in poverty, the protection of human rights, and peace and reconciliation. As educators, we too, are change agents who strive to make the world a better place by promoting equity and inclusion, quality learning, resilience, and critical problem solving.

In considering the devastation caused by the recent tsunami in the Philippines and Hurricane Sandy, the links between globalization, poverty, development and the environment can no longer been ignored. More natural disasters and economic challenges lie ahead. This is where education comes in, raising awareness of our individual responsibilities to make responsible choices and to respect other people, nature, and diversity. By relating content areas to the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development, we can give orientation and meaning to quality education for all.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”