Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it. And by the same token, save it from ruin
Ardent, 1954: 196.
Sustainability can be described as the ‘ideal state where human activity does not degrade the environment, but maintains natural systems and resources for future generations’ (EAUC, 2021).
Education for sustainable development has at its heart a desire to support, empower and equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values base to both care about and find solutions to the global challenges we face. As UNESCO (2021) indicates, many of these challenges are interconnected, ‘including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality’. Education for sustainable development values the transformative potential of education, urging educators to centre teaching, learning and organisational practices that encourage learners and learning communities ‘to make informed decisions and take individual and collective action to change our societies and care for the planet’ (ibid).
At CCC, we feel that we have both a professional duty and an ethical responsibility to work in ways that move beyond tokenistic adherence to government mandated sustainability goals. We also view our responsibility to develop sustainable working, teaching and learning practices within, and for Further Education as more ethically pressing than its framing as an ‘economic imperative’ or a ‘business case’. Although there is a clear business and economic case for engaging in sustainable practices (EAUC, 2021; Stern, 2007) this is not our primary driver as an organisation. Instead, we strive to provide an active, dynamic approach to our work within further education that reflects our values as educators and as custodians of the planet with a duty to share and protect other sentient beings (human, animal and plant) who share our planet earth.
Our commitment to working in environmentally ethical and sustainable ways includes:
- Facilitating inclusive, home-based working practices within the CCC Team and a default offer of remote training over physical (face-to-face) training (whenever possible). Home working and the remote facilitation of training courses heavily reduces the need for travel, helping reduce CO2 emissions. Where physical travel is absolutely necessary, we will explore meaningful ways of offsetting our impact on the environment and will also use public transport wherever and whenever this is a feasible option.
- Promoting and providing plant-based catering at our face-to-face training courses and events. A report by the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (2013, 2022) found that meat and dairy consumption accounts for 14.5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas, a figure that hugely outweighs the carbon footprint caused by air travel for example (Ritchie, 2020). Farming animals for their meat, milk and eggs also has a dramatic impact on wildlife: “A taste for meat has had a particular impact on land. The mass of animals raised for slaughter on Earth now outweighs wildlife by a factor of 15-to-1” (Dunne, 2020).
- Developing and sharing our understanding of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989), and the unequal and unjust impact of climate change (Islam and Winkel, 2017), for instance, on the Global South and on already marginalised communities and individuals. Such awareness includes acknowledging the ‘role of education in both the reproduction of structural and social inequalities’ and as potential sites of ‘solidarity, disruption and resistance’ to inequality (Sundarum and Beaton, 2021).
- Actively seeking to provide safe and supportive spaces for educators to reflect upon and develop their practice in relation to education for sustainable development, including, through the creation of communities of shared praxis, via opportunities for contextualised research for FE and post 16 learning and as a forum for disruption and resistance to all forms of inequality. This includes initiatives such as the #SustainFE community of practice which we will play an active role in, and promote widely within the sector.
What this means for us in practice:
This section explains what you can expect from working with CCC or attending a CCC facilitated event or training session:
- Carbon Literacy trained facilitators and trainers.
- High quality, accessible remote and/or blended training facilitation that embraces, utlilises and shares best digital practices and pedagogy.
- Access to key resources prior to events, enabling you to download them onto your own device and reducing the need for printing.
- Our face-to-face events will always be booked in places that are accessible by public transport.
- Where catering is provided at our events, you will be asked to opt out of plant-based options, as opposed to opting in. Exciting and tasty plant-based food will always be our default menu. With 50% lower emissions than dairy (Poore and Nemecek, 2018), oat milk (or other non-dairy alternatives) will also be offered as standard for your teas and coffees. We will also offer a selection of herbal teas and fresh water to keep you hydrated. Lastly, we’ll seek to use reusable crockery or ask you to BYO (Bring your own!) cup.
- Rather than giving you a physical event pack at face-to-face events, we’ll ask you to BYO lanyard and share a QR code so you can access resources on your own device. To ensure everyone is powered up, we’ll always have chargers available and access to a spare device too just in case!
- Rather than sending you a card or a bunch of flowers, we’ll say thank you to our colleagues, guest speakers and trainees by planting trees or by investing in other sustainability initiatives.
- If we can create an e-resource rather than a hard copy of a resource, we’ll always take this option. Where this creates savings, we’ll be able to invest in sustainability initiatives, locally and around the world. See for example our OTLA legacy Forest, where the funding we saved by not printing a physical book was used to honour each and every action research project by planting, rather than felling trees!
Please note that this page will be continually updated as we grow as a carbon literate organisation and learn more about how we can nurture education for sustainable development within our sector as well as model it effectively, too. In the spirit of co-developing that journey (and sharing what works as well as what doesn’t) we have created a Padlet which we invite you to share the ways in which you have endeavored to develop a sustainable vision of FE. Please feel free to add your own ideas, try things out and let us know how it goes!
Read CCC Team member Chloë’s blog: Eco-a-go-Go!
Ardent, H. (1954/1976). The crisis in education, in between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought. New York: The Viking Press inc.
Crenshaw, K. (1989). ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’. University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989, Article 8.
Dunne, D (2020). ‘Interactive: what is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?’ Available at: https://interactive.carbonbrief.org/what-is-the-climate-impact-of-eating-meat-and-dairy/#:~:text=Meat%20and%20dairy%20specifically%20accounts,will%20be%20necessary%2C%20scientists%20say [accessed 20.4.22].
EAUC. (2021). SORTED Guide to Sustainability in Further Education [online]. Available at: https://www.sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/1_sustainability_in_fe accessed 22.9.21.
Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. (2013). ‘Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities’. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.
Islam, N., and Winkel, J. (2017). Climate change and social inequality. DESA Working Paper No. 152 [online]. Available at: https://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2017/wp152_2017.pdf
Poore, J. and Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers Science. 360:6392. Pp.987-992.
Ritchie, H. (2020). ‘Climate change and flying: what share of global CO2 emissions come from aviation?’ Our world in data. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-aviation [accessed 20.4.22].
Stern, N. (2007). The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511817434
Sundarum, V., and Beaton, M. (2021). Exploring educational settings as conducive contexts for sexism, sexual harassment and violence. Keynote paper for BERA annual conference, September 2021.
UNESCO, (2021). Education for sustainable development [online]. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-sustainable-development