Education for Sustainability and the SDGs: A Short Guide to Advocating Organizations

Authors

August 23, 2022

Our world is in the midst of multiple crises, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.  This includes a crisis in education and learning, notably at K-12 levels where many students have missed instruction in basic skills, but arguably at all levels, formal and informal. In response, the UN is holding a “Transforming Education Summit” in New York, 19 Sept 2022, on the “deepening global education crisis.” (See Reference #11).  Education is not merely a Sustainable Development Goal (#4), but also an important tool to address the broad range of security and sustainability issues.  Obviously, we cannot have security without sustainability, nor sustainability without security.  But “sustainability,” “sustainable development,” and “security” have various overlapping definitions.

Sustainability generally encompasses environment issues (climate change, energy, pollution, and biodiversity), while Sustainable Development covers environmental issues and progressive social issues such as human rights, gender equality, reduced inequalities, and justice.  Security is also very broad, and can include peace, national security, cyber security, food security, energy security, water security, economic security, freedom, and Human Security (which can encompass all of the above).  For example, the ten targets for SDG#4 on “Quality Education” include 4.7 on “all learners acquiring knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development,” including human rights, gender equality, global citizenship, and a culture of peace and non-violence, which loosely covers all three terms.

This Short Guide offers a brief and preliminary look at very different but overlapping organizations advocating education for sustainability and/or the SDGs.  A few organizations focus on education at all levels: pre-school, school, college, and lifelong learning.  Several focus only or largely on schools, and many others on higher and continuing education.  Others have a specialized focus: on climate change, management and business, global citizenship, security and sustainability, etc.  Several organizations do not mention sustainability or the SDGs at all, but are relevant to one or more SDGs.  UN organizations and programs are involved in about half of the listed organizations.  See the “INDEX to Activities, Organizations, and Reports” (p15), which includes a separate carve-out index to 16 UN organizations. A companion QuickLook describes 41 PhD programs in sustainability, environment, and peace and conflict studies, reflecting the diversity of organizations described above, but no PhD program described here is devoted to all of the SDGs!

Higher and Continuing Education 

  1. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2012, UN/New York)

SDSN seeks to mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem-solving at local, national, and global scales. The network’s secretariat, hosted by Columbia University, is building a network of universities, research centers, and other knowledge institutions. The members (>1200) are organized around national or regional SDSNs to promote Solutions Initiatives, develop educational materials, and work towards Agenda 2030,  established in 2015 to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which succeeded the Millennium Development Goals. The 17 SDGs are the guiding principles of SDSN and provide a holistic framework, applicable to all countries, to eradicate poverty and deprivation, grow their economies, protect the environment, and promote peace and good governance.

                             [Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (2012, UN/New York).

Provides higher education institutions with a unique interface between higher education, science, and policy making. Created in the run-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), it gathered voluntary commitments from >300 universities worldwide. The Initiative led to the launch of the Platform for Sustainability Performance in Education, i.e.: a shared web-space showcasing higher education sustainability assessment goals, formally recognized and supported by UNEP, UNGC PRME (#17), and UNESCO.

  1. Sulitest (2014, Marseille, France; 12 staff).

Founded by the UN, under the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative, this global movement seeks to empower people to act responsibly. It aims to develop ‘Sustainable Literacy’ worldwide, i.e., “the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to build a sustainable future and that help them to make informed and effective decisions to this end.” Provides global and locally relevant tools (“Test”, “Quiz” and “Looping”/Reverse Pedagogy) in 10 languages, free of charge for higher education institutions, organizations and companies worldwide. To date, reach is >150,000 students in 800 universities.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. International Sustainable Campus Network (2010, Lausanne, Switzerland).

ISCN, with 97 global members, works together with the Global University Leader Forum of the World Economic Forum to provide a global forum for exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable campus operations, as well as to integrate sustainability into research and teaching. Aims to “re-envision the future and take meaningful action contributing to sustainable development.”  Sponsors the annual Global University Climate Forum.

  1. The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (2005, Philadelphia, PA).

Aims to lead higher education to be a foundation for a thriving, equitable and ecologically healthy world.   Its work is devoted to sustainability practices that address campus environmental, social and economic impacts. AASHE established the annual “Sustainability Campus Index,” “The Campus Sustainability Hub” and “STARS: The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System” to measure sustainability performance. [See Relevant Literature appendix].  Together with the US Partnership on Education for Sustainable Development, it coordinates The Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS), with some 50 organizations, and the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC).

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development (2005, US).

“Acts as a convenor, catalyst, and communicator across all sectors of society.” Connects sustainability efforts in the U.S. (educational and scientific institutions, NGOs, government agencies, faith communities, etc.) with international networks. The working projects: Be a Changemaker, Energy Fixes, Climate Fixes and Sustainability Literacy.  [See DANS and HEASC, above.]

  1. Disciplinary Association Network for Sustainability (Philadelphia, PA)

An informal network of over 40 academic associations, coordinated by AASHE and US/PESD, aiming to advance education for a sustainable future. Initiates and supports programs on sustainability education, with a call to “Integrate Sustainability into Job Descriptions and Performance Reviews”. Seeks to educate the public about sustainability, promote policies and implement cross disciplinary projects on sustainability education. Between the participating organizations, the main focus is on promoting sustainability efforts, facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing, and providing professional development.

  1. Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (Philadelphia, PA).

Coordinated by AASHE and US/PESD, is a network of national and international associations of higher education working together to advance education for a sustainable future. Focuses on higher education institutions in US, but also establishes international collaborations. Connects practitioners, faculty, students and volunteers by sharing projects that students can take up for their thesis, course assignments, capstones, independent study, internship or supplemental volunteer work.

  1. The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (1996, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; 28 staff).

An alliance of >200 colleges, universities, and companies dedicated to sustainability in education. Provides information and networking opportunities to the sector through its members, while aiming to implement best practices to create a sustainable future.  Publishes the Green Directory of sustainable products and services to higher education, maintains the Sustainability Exchange information portal, and manages the Green Gown Awards for significant achievements of colleges and universities. The EAUC also provides a comprehensive whole-campus assessment tool that helps universities and colleges improve their environmental performance.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Net: Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research (2008, UNU-IAS, Tokyo; 2 staff).

Involves 52 higher education institutions in the Asia-Pacific region working towards multi-disciplinary solutions to a wide range of sustainable development challenges. Apart from establishing education and research programs in sustainability and related fields, ProSPER.Net publishes books and brochures on transforming higher education and creating sustainable societies and organizes mobility programs, Young Researchers’ School, a Leadership Program and webinars on related issues.  The UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability serves as the Secretariat.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Global RCE Network: Education for Sustainable Development (2003, UNU, Tokyo).

Part of The Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability affiliated with the United Nations University. It features over 170 regional centers of expertise (RCEs) dedicated to providing expertise in the areas of sustainability. Each RCE has unique activities, e.g.: organizing workshops for teachers and other educators on sustainable development, conduct research on the subject, developing policies that support education for sustainable development, working with schools and other learning institutions to integrate sustainability into the curriculum. Publishes books, brochures, and policy briefs.
[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. The Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (1990, Washington).

The Secretariat for signatories of the 1990 Talloires Declaration, signed by >500 college and university presidents in >50 countries. Its mission is to “support sustainability as a critical focus of teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities worldwide through publications, research, and assessment”.

  1. Security & Sustainability Forum (2009, Falls Church, Virginia).

A public interest membership organization that convenes global experts for free educational webinars. They focus on energy, food and water security, public health, urban resilience, economic vitality, infrastructure, governance, and other issues and impacts that must be solved in meeting climate security challenges. SSF developed a masterclass on important sustainability topics for professionals, >25 audio interviews with experts, and a free-access archive of over 150 webinars, including webinar series on ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Leadership’ and ‘Professional Sustainability Certification’.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. United World Colleges (1962; London, UK).

Aims to make education a force “to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” It has 18 schools and colleges on 4 continents. The colleges teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as their formal curriculum and offers on-site and online short courses. The educational model aims to prepare the students “to engage in continuing, positive action towards issues of sustainability, on both an institutional and individual level.”

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. SDG Academy (2014, New York).

The flagship education initiative of SDSN, with the mandate of creating and curating the best available educational content on sustainable development and making it available as a global public good. Since 2014, the SDG Academy has created over 35 free online courses, which have reached some 300,000 learners in >190 countries. Course topics include planetary boundaries, poverty and inequality, globalization, food and agriculture, global water crisis, and environmental security.  The Academy also offers online Masters degrees in Sustainable Development.  Since 2017, the SDG Academy Community of Practice has served as a key offering, inviting global higher education institutions, NGOs, businesses, and relevant government entities to advance education for sustainable development through peer learning, sharing best practices, customized resource development, and opportunities for research and thought leadership.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. UN SDG Learn (2019, UNITAR, Geneva).

Part of UN’s Training and Research Institute, providing training on sustainable development topics. The initiative aims to bring together relevant learning solutions for individuals and organizations. UN SDG: Learn has developed a wide range of learning solutions related to the Sustainable Development Agenda by partnering with other organizations and universities. Offers >150 self-paced e-learning courses and micro-courses

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. UN Principles for Responsable Management Education (2007, UN/New York)

An initiative of the UN Global Compact, involving business schools committed to integrating six core principles to “transform business and management education, and develop the responsible leaders of tomorrow”.  More than 800 signatory business schools report progress towards realizing responsible management education by submitting progress reports and presenting their strategies in the Transformational Model for the Implementation of PRME and in the Blueprint for SDG Integration into Curriculum, Research and Partnerships.

  1. AIM2Flourish (2019, Case Western Reserve Univ., Cleveland)

World’s first higher education curriculum integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the idea of positive and profitable business (“Business as an Agent of World Benefit”). The platform aims to be a source of inspiration for other higher education institutions and wider public, whereby students share their research on positive business innovations. AIM2Flourish seeks to “change the story about business from the best IN the world, to best FOR the world”. Its team supports education around the world by providing videos, classroom presentations, monthly newsletters, and other materials.

  1. Second Nature (1993, Boston).

A US non-profit committed to accelerate climate action in, and through, higher education. It has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at >600 colleges and universities, with a vision of “higher education playing a prominent leadership role in shaping research, learning, and communities that inspire and operationalize this positive future.”  Programs include The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Higher Education & Climate Resilience, and Campus Sustainability Day

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Faculty for a Future (2021, Climate 2025, Sheffield, England; 10 staff).

Climate 2025 brings together academics from various disciplines to address complex 21st century issues. Through its Faculty for a Future program, academic leaders can transform their work and engage in the public discourse. It works with various groups through its programs, including students, faculty members, and creatives, to build a more sustainable world.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Global University Network for Innovation (1999; Barcelona; 10 staff).

UNESCO and the United Nations University (UNU) established GUNI to strengthen higher education’s role in society by contributing to the renewal of visions, missions, and policies of the world’s major issues through concepts of the SDGs, public service, relevance, and social responsibility.  Issues reports and holds conferences.
[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. World University Consortium (2013, World Academy of Art & Science).

Involves 11 NGOs and organizations seeking to “promote development of accessible, affordable, quality higher education worldwide based on a human-centered approach that shifts the emphasis from specialized expertise to contextualized knowledge”. WUC, together with WAAS, has organized five conferences on the future of education, providing background for the 2022 UN conference on education. For proceedings, see here.                                                                                                                                                                                                    [Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Millennium Campus Network (2008, Boston; 287 staff).

Provides a global platform for students to address the world’s most significant social challenges and the SDGs with conferences, campaigns, and fellowships. MCN aims to train social impact leaders, and >6,000 MCN alumni now work in the private and public sectors. In 2021, there were >2000 Millennium Fellows on 136 campuses in 30 countries.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Ecoversities Alliance (2014)

Semi-structured network of ‘eco-versities’, i.e. “people, organizations and communities who are reclaiming knowledge systems and a cultural imaginary to restore and re-envision learning processes that are meaningful and relevant to the challenges of our times”. Offering over a 100 transformative learning spaces, seeks to establish a network of different pedagogical initiatives which critique the existing education systems, and cultivate new practices to regenerate ecological, social and cultural ecosystems.

  1. Global Ecovillage Network (2006, Findhorn, Scotland).

Provides education and collaboration opportunities for young people to co-create a peaceful and regenerative culture. It has a consultative status with the UN-ECOSOC and functions as a network of autonomous regions in Latin America, Asia and Oceania, North America, Africa, and Europe), coordinated through the NextGen International Youth Council that meets monthly. Recent projects include Youth Social Innovation for Resilient Communities, Youth-Led Societal Innovation for Resilience, and Zambia Greening Schools.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

K-12 Primary and Secondary Schools 

  1. Mission 4.7 (2021; UN/SDSN/New York).

Founded by SDSN’s flagship programs, Global Schools and the SDG Academy, in partnership with the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, UNESCO, and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Strives to implement Education for Sustainable Development (SDG Target 4.7) in K-12, tertiary, and professional education across the globe to impact “the behavior and social-emotional well-being” of individual learners and wider society. Offers free K-12 educational resources on sustainable development, as well as case studies of existing educational policies for the SDG 4.7.

  1. Global Schools Program (2018, SDSN, Paris; 16 staff).

Launched to support the efforts of UNESCO’s Global Action Program on Education for Sustainable Development. Through various resources, it aims to help schools worldwide improve their performance, so that every primary and secondary school student has the knowledge, values, and skills to successfully respond to the century’s most significant challenges and shape a sustainable and prosperous world.  GSP recently launched its first report, “Global Schools Annual Report 2021” (May 2022, 21p) which highlights how GSP is helping schools and teachers to integrate Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and SDG Target 4.7 into classrooms.  It provided training to 177 K-12 teachers in 75 countries, and proudly announced that “In 2021, the network expanded from 937 schools to 1,270 schools in 89 countries and territories,” some 63% of them are private. (NOTE: This is literally a drop in the global bucket of schools, roughly estimated at 5-6 million schools worldwide.)

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. SDSN Youth (2012, New York, 182 staff).

Educates young people about the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and provides opportunities for them to pioneer innovative solutions to achieve the goals. With a membership of >1,000 organizations, ranging from student associations, youth-led and youth-focused organizations and other institutions dedicated to youth empowerment in >85 countries, SDSN Youth creates platforms for young people to connect and contribute to regional and national pathways for implementing the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. So far, 700 schools across 72 countries, with >200,000 students, are involved in a comprehensive sustainability curriculum for primary and secondary schools developed by SDSN Youth.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Green Hope Foundation (2012, Toronto).

A youth-led organization for “present and future generations,” on education for sustainable development, peace, and dignity for all.  ECOSOC accredited and operates in 26 countries to “localize SDGs” with environmental academies. Some 300,000-youth involved.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. UNESCO Associated Schools (1953, Paris).

Links educational institutions across the world, with >11,500 member schools in 182 countries. It has mobilized >2,500 school leaders, teachers, students, and parents to engage in joint reflections about education in the future, i.e., how can education promote sustainable development and global citizenship and how should the content and methods of educational programs evolve.

  1. World’s Largest Lesson (2015, London).

A Sustainable Development Agenda produced by Project Everyone in partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO.  Enables children to develop global citizenship and develop big ideas about the environment and human rights.  Delivered to millions of children in >30 languages, and made possible by support of various organizations and ministries. Distributes global goals posters, videos, comics, parent guides, and FAQs for educators and students.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. UNESCO Office for Climate Education (2018; Paris, 15 staff).

Due to the seriousness of climate change, schools must have the necessary resources and professional development to teach their students about it. OCE was established to promote climate change education in developing and developed countries. In 2020, it became an official center of UNESCO, aiming to enhance international cooperation in climate education with free and in-depth educational resources through various programs, to be distributed widely and adapted to local needs in different regions.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. UN CC: Learn (2011, UNITAR, Geneva; 5 staff).

The UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC: L) collaborates with over 30 organizations that support countries in designing and implementing effective climate change learning. It promotes exchange of knowledge and the development of common learning materials.  Through national programs, UN CC: L supports countries in developing and implementing learning strategies. Provides 13 courses on adaptation, cities, energy, circularity, finance, green economy, youth, etc.  It also contributes to implementing the UNFCCC’s Article 6 on training and education. The Secretariat is managed by the UN Institute for Training and Research.  ALSO SEE the UNESCO Office of Climate Education (#32) and UN SDG Learn (#16).

  1. TROP ICSU (2017).

Trans-disciplinary Research Oriented Pedagogy for Improving Climate Studies and Understanding is a collaboration between the International Council for Science and the International Union for Quaternary Research, to improve understanding of the relationship between climate and biological diversity, “across the curriculum, across the globe.”  The project is supported by various international organizations and national research centers, to help people understand the role of science in addressing climate change.  Provides teaching tools by grade level and >100 lesson plans.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Global Environmental Education Partnership (Washington, 2014).

Coordinated by North American Association for Environmental Education, seeks to create a global learning network for environmental education. Stands for EE programs incorporating social, economic, and environmental issues. Main initiatives concern building leadership with 21st century skills, highlighting good practices and strengthening networks to connect efforts on environmental education around the world. The 2017 Call to Action, launched to gather feedback on priorities in EE, resulted in the Tbilisi + 41 Pledge.

  1. Center for Sustainable Futures, Columbia University Teachers College (2015, NYC).

“An interdisciplinary pedagogical movement that examines the interactions between environmental, social, health, and economic issues that together promote the long-term health of complex living systems… CSF supports and conducts original research, engages in research-practice partnerships, mentors and trains graduate students, and uses data to inform evidence-based policy, practice, and communication.” Offers a Teaching the SDGs professional development program and eight courses on Environmental and Sustainability Education across disciplines and departments.

  1. Global Dimension (2018, London).

Offers teaching resources for K-12 students about sustainability and climate, with an online guide featuring various resources that support global understanding. The website was created by Reboot the Future, which aims to transform the World through conversations and connections, and claims to be the UK’s leading platform for global learning. Includes a calendar with various global events and resources that help teachers introduce global learning to their students. It also allows them to connect and discuss the most critical issues. Reboot the Future is a small foundation that believes in the importance of a sustainable world.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. NISSEM (2017).

Networking to Integrate SDG Target 4.7 and Social/Emotional Material into education includes Education for Sustainable Development (ESM) and Global Citizen Education.  International academicians and practitioners launched a campaign to integrate Target 4.7 themes into textbooks and other educational materials for developing countries, especially in areas of conflict and resource shortages.  The group held several workshops in 2017 and 2018 at various international conferences.  Developing effective global citizenship education requires a variety of emotional and social skills, using methods that promote personal development and social awareness.  Publishes Global Briefs.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Global Citizenship Foundation (2017, New Delhi; 23 staff).

A non-partisan organization that aims to strengthen democracy and promote civic participation, “transforming education for human flourishing,” with a mandate to realize SDG 4.7.”   Works with various groups and individuals to help young people develop the skills and confidence to make informed decisions. The Foundation aims to inspire and educate young people about the importance of civic participation, and to help them develop the skills and confidence to participate in public.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Ban-Ki Moon Centre for Global Citizens (2018, Vienna).

Aims to “use its expertise and network to work for peace, poverty eradication, empowerment of youth and women, justice and human rights worldwide”. Offers free and self-paced online courses on global citizenship and gender equality, co-developed with UNESCO Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding, and publicly accessible on the Global Citizenship Education Online Campus. Organizes interactive workshops on the same topics.  Sponsors Global Citizen Scholars to attend European Forum Alpbach.

  1. Asia Society Center for Global Education (2018, New York; 8 staff).

Partners with leading institutions and leaders worldwide to address the critical issue of how to educate all students for global citizenship and employability.  CGE is working toward achieving SDG on Global Citizenship Education, and views “global competence as a crucial upgrade.” It brings together influential individuals in the field, including government officials, educators, and business leaders, so that all students worldwide will have necessary skills and knowledge to participate in and contribute to a peaceful and prosperous world.  Resources include global CTE (career and technical education) toolkits to transform learning environments.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. WFUNA (1946, New York; 86 staff).

The World Federation of UN Organizations coordinates the activities of >100 United Nations Association members, to strengthen and improve the UN by engaging people from different backgrounds. It aims to create a more inclusive and effective organization that can meet shared global challenges. The Secretariat is responsible for implementing the UN’s three pillars: peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights.  It has training programs for global citizenship and youth empowerment.  (NOTE: No mention of SDGs.)

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. MUN Impact (2017, Watsonville, CA; 76 staff).

Model United Nations Impact seeks to “take actions and support the SDGs” with a platform for members of the public to engage with the UN. Activities include conferences, workshops, and social events, to inspire and motivate participants.  Involvement in MUN Impact consists in getting the members of a club or conference to think about how they can make a difference in the world. MUN programs can be a powerful force for change, and delegates often impact the world’s most significant issues.  Claims 40,000 students engaged in 171 countries. See “2021-2022 Impact Report” (May 2022, 20p) and Community magazine.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

Miscellaneous (Probable/Possible Relevance) 

  1. UNAOC (New York; 46 staff).

The Secretary-General established the United Nations Alliance for a Culture of Cooperation to mobilize political will and improve the understanding of people and communities across multiple countries. Its primary goal is to develop practical actions that promote cross-cultural collaboration. UNAOC also works to counter the forces that fuel extremism and polarization, and as a global network of organizations and individuals to improve cross-cultural relations. These include governments, international organizations, foundations, and private sector entities.  Projects include Summer Schools on global challenges, Youth Solidarity Fund, Young Peacebuilders, and Women as Peacemakers.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Education Development Center (1958, Waltham MA; 1300 staff).

Seeks to bring together research, policy and practice on workforce solutions.  Funded by public and private sector it offers “strategic, cost-effective solutions that are responsive to the cultures, realities, and needs of the communities and consumers”. Its services stretch from action-oriented research to project design and development. Projects in over 80 countries over the world focus on expanding access to quality education, promoting healthy futures and creating economic opportunities through communication campaigns, on-site and online trainings and various digital tools                       [Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Center for Global Education (Carson, CA; 8 staff).

Supports international students and faculty at colleges and universities, promoting cross-cultural awareness and studies abroad. It offers a variety of resources and information about global learning, including safety and diversity, student retention, and the impact of studying abroad.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. National Association of Foreign Student Advisory: Association of International Educators (1948, Washington, DC).

Based in the US, the “world’s largest nonprofit association” seeking to advance international higher education. “Serves more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide at more than 3,500 institutions, in over 150 countries” by providing programs, products and services, as well as physical and virtual meeting spaces for international educators.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

  1. Teach the Future (2013, University of Houston).

“Global, non-profit movement that promotes ‘futures literacy’ as a life skill for students and educators.” By integrating “future thinking” into educational institutions, seeks to prepare new generations for understanding and acting in face of global challenges. Proposes a curriculum to be taught in schools or after school hours around the world. Sponsors World Futures Day (every March 1st), offers a Future Leaders program, Young Voices Award and hosts Future Times Newspaper.

  1. School of International Futures (London; 30 staff).

A global practice organization seeking to help policy makers and business leaders build foresight capability through an “advisory and capability function and through the training and development of individuals and networks”. Offers training under Foresight Retreats, Strategic Foresight Programs and Strategic Foresight Trainings. Also offers thought leadership programs: Fairness for Future Generations, Futures for Better Governance, Futures for Philanthropy and Helping you get future-fit.

  1. Human Rights Institute (1998; Columbia University Law School, New York; 22 staff).

Dedicated to providing international students and scholars with the necessary tools to improve t understanding of human rights and international law.  It also hosts a variety of events and lectures. The Human Rights Institute also focuses on the intersection of business and human rights in the global economy.

[Abstract in S&S Guide here.]

RELEVANT REPORTS

R-1 Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives (UNESCO, 2017)

States that “ESD can produce specific cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral learning outcomes that enable individuals to deal with the particular challenges of each SDG, thus facilitating its achievement” (p.8). It is supposed to equip a wider population of not only understanding the importance of SDGs, but also to prepare each individual to contribute to necessary social transformation. Recognized key competences for addressing sustainability are: systems thinking, anticipatory competency and normative integrated problem-solving.

R-2 Practicing Education for Sustainable Development: Case Study Guide of Educators (UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Jan 2021, 79p).

Addresses the urgent need for education institutions worldwide to orient their curricula and procedures toward UN education initiatives, namely Education for Sustainable Development (EfSD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCE).  Successfully integrated initiatives result in students developing soft skills, empathy, and sustainable behavior.  But it is not an easy task to reform existing institutions.  Results from the SDSN Global Schools Program enable learning from local communities by the Global School Advocates. Case studies are presented from Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and North America. Concludes with lessons learned on challenges that such projects face, such as supportive school leadership, teacher autonomy, localized resources and translations, time constraints, financial resources, etc.

R-3 Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities: A Guide for Universities, Colleges, and Tertiary and Higher Education Institutions (UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2020, 78p).

Aims to “inspire universities to take action and support them through this process, regardless of their context, capacity or starting point”. This report was made possible thanks to “more than 1,300 universities, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations around the world that are members of the SDSN” (p.v). Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN, stresses that “sustainable development is a holistic concept, involving economics, social justice, and environmental management” and “therefore must be taught, researched, and promoted in a holistic manner – cutting across intellectual disciplines, faculties and departments, and even methods” (p.iii).

R-4 Blueprint for SDG Integration into Curriculum, Research and Partnerships (PRME, 2020, 51 p).

An initiative of UN Global Impact, Principles for Responsible Management Education (#5, above).  Provides a “roadmap for business schools already embarked on their SDG journey, those beginning their journey and those considering the challenge.” The two objectives: (1) to support business schools with adequate concepts and frameworks on their journey of integration of the SDGs into their working programs, and (2) to propose successfully adopted approaches as practical guidelines to interested business schools.

R-5 Sustainable Campus Index (AASHE, 2021 edition, 84 p).

“Highlights the most sustainable colleges and universities in 17 impact areas and overall, by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System” (STARS).   Participating institutions share their data, which is reviewed by AASHE staff and rated in categories of academics, engagement, operations and administration. As of March 2021, STARS reports were submitted by >550 institutions in 14 countries, covering 49 US States and 8 Canadian provinces.

R-6 The Campus Sustainability Hub (AASHE)

An online resource library providing access to resources for all aspects of sustainability in higher education, including campus sustainability practices. It covers 3,209 programs in 693 organizations in 27 countries, including 548 programs under the category of Sustainability Studies and Science.

R-7 STARS Aligned: Using the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System to Report on Contributions to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (AASHE, 2020, 84 p).

In spite of growing interest to orient sustainability efforts towards the SDGs, academic institutions have no standardized methodology of measuring and reporting their contribution. This guide aims provides a self-reporting framework that “captures many of the main ways that higher education institutions can contribute to the SDGs,” and “a four-step process for using STARS to report on and expand an institution’s contributions to the SDGs”.

R-8 Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges (2022).

Free online, this 12th annual edition ranks the Top 50 US green colleges, and provides sustainability information on 420 schools, 391 in the US and 26 in Canada.

R-9 Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education (University of Gloucestershire, 2012).

The result of a Higher Education Funding Council for England project, “Leading Curriculum Change for Sustainability (2010-2012),” in collaboration with the UK Quality Assurance Agency and a consortium of five higher education institutions. Designed as an interactive guide with video and other downloadable materials and tools, it seeks “to connect Education for Sustainability (EfS) and the practice of quality assurance and enhancement in the HE curriculum”.

R-10 SDG Partnership Guidebook: A practical guide to building high impact multi-stakeholder partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals (The Partnering Initiative and UN DESA, 2020; 91 p).

Proposes strategies to develop a “partnership-enabling ecosystem” that would bring a more efficient delivery of the 2030 Agenda. It is based on the 17-year experience of TPI and its partners and is suitable for both beginners and experts partnering in SDG concerned projects. Suggests reforms of UN and national governments in their organizational structure and engagement mechanisms, further allowing productive partnerships (local and global) with NGOs and businesses to maximize SDG impact. Recognizes business as “a key development actor and partner” and promotes the idea that businesses should be fully engaged in delivering the SDGs.

R-11 Reimagining Our Futures Together: A New Social Contract for Education (International Commission for the Futures of Education, c/o UNESCO, Nov 2021; 188p).

The Commission was formed by UNESCO in 2019 and engaged a million people in a global consultation on more equitable educational futures.  A new social contract “to repair injustices while transforming the future” should be grounded in human rights, respect for life, cultural diversity, and an ethic of care.  [NOTE:  This report serves as background to the UN Transforming Education Summit in New York, 19 Sept 2022, responding to “a deepening global education crisis” and the need to mobilize ambition and action “to accelerate progress towards SDG4.”]

Journals:

The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. (Emerald Group). Aims to provide “up-to-date information on new developments and trends on sustainability in a higher education context, and to catalyse networking and information exchange on sustainable development as a whole, and on the SDGs in particular, on a global basis”.
The Journal of Education for Sustainable Development (Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona) aims to be a “forum for academics and practitioners to share and critique innovations in thinking and practice.”

CONCLUSION

This Brief Guide aims to illustrate the diversity of organizations advocating education for sustainability, security, and/or the SDGs and to encourage some sort of partnering to enhance efficacy.  The Guide includes five Networks (1, 4, 7, 11, 25), two Alliances (9, 24), two Associations (5, 12), a Collaboration (34), two Consortiums (8, 22), a Forum (13), an Initiative (2), and three Partnerships (6, 33, 35).  These labels for association appear to be interchangeable.  Appreciating the similarities and differences of these organizations concerned with future education can lead to strengthening one’s own organization and perhaps to new and strengthened partnerships or collaborations.  [see R10, above]

The ten idealized targets for SDG#4 on Quality Education are largely concerned with primary and secondary education for girls and boys, especially needed due to the widespread loss of a year or two of schooling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  But most of the organizations in this QuickLook focus on higher and continuing education and lifelong learning for adults–formal and informal–which is equally important and especially needed in the turbulent decades ahead.

“Quality Education” does not adequately suggest the task ahead for all institutions; rather, the focus should be on “Appropriate Education” for the 21st century at all levels, when the world population will soon pass 8 billion people (growing to nearly 10 billion by 2050), global warming will continue to some degree (depending on how much action is taken and how soon), wars and pandemics are likely, information and disinformation are abundant, and many new technologies will abound for better and worse.  In other words, formal and informal education is needed for future decades’ multiple crises and opportunities.

The 2020 SDSN report, Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities [see R-3 above] notes that the most common approaches used so far by universities are awareness raising, interdisciplinary introductory units, integration into the existing discipline curriculum, co-curricular activities, leadership programs, student-led activities, MOOCs and other online content, and sustainable development degrees.  SDSN President Jeffrey Sachs remarks that “hundreds of universities worldwide are reconfiguring themselves to address the complex challenges of sustainable development” (p.iii).  This is likely a quantitative understatement: more than a thousand universities are part of a network or association noted here. Many more might be included if a global census were possible.  But most of these universities appear to be in Europe and North America, not worldwide.

As for accelerating qualitative progress in universities, efforts are underway to assess and rank North American universities (see AASHE and Princeton Review), but the curriculum needs to be critically assessed in learner-oriented guides, especially at postgraduate and non-degree levels.  The companion QL to 41 PhD programs is a start, and many more programs at PhD and Masters level can be–and should be–identified and initiated!

Also see “Higher Education for Security and Peace: A QuickLook at 41 PhD ProgramsThis companion QuickLook is published along with a dozen other QLs, many on security topics, in The Security & Sustainability Guide, a World Academy of Art & Science project.

Possible Appendix to the Education Short Guide

A global network organization with hubs in Moscow, Toronto, Buenos Aires, and London working to catalyze the “transformation of education” through 2,000 leaders for systems-level education change. Since 2008, it’s worked on innovative educational programs on all continents. It engages with partners to co-create projects that benefit education and society. Future skills, learning ecosystems, empowering learners of all ages, and educational reform prototypes are their focus. GEF has undertaken considerable research on these abilities using our “Skills Technology Foresight” methodology, designed with the ILO and WorldSkills movement. Sponsored by Costa Rica, France and UK; 24 partners, including WAAS, UNDP, GELP, Metaversity, ASI, Weaving Lab, Vivir Agradecidos, Ashoka, and MSM Skolkovo.

Published:

Learning Ecosystems: An Emerging Praxis for the Future of Education (2020, 157p)

Educational Ecosystems for Societal Transformation (2018, 132p). [ NOTE: Mila Popovich of WAAS is a co-author of the latter.]

A global network linking 5000+ schools in 110+ countries connecting global education. Members can build transformative worldwide collaborations to share best practices through online collaboration and immersive experiences while cooperating online and through student exchanges and delegations. Members can improve pedagogy and curriculum while unleashing school improvement, teacher development, and student transformation.

It is a cause-driven open alliance of educational stakeholders and learning communities created by LP Institute and UNESCO. It aims to inspire and empower learners of all ages to shape better futures. Following the idea that current global issues require new approaches to learning, teaching, investigating, and activating collective intelligence, LPA aspires to uncover, develop, and promote the most effective ways to solve the world’s most critical and complicated concerns, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, it gathers more than 300 engaged organizations united to transform education.

A multi-stakeholder fund and partnership assisting more than 65 lower-income nations to guarantee every child obtains a quality basic education, emphasizing poor, vulnerable, and conflict-affected children. GPE helps governments implement structural changes to educate marginalized children, boost learning levels, and adapt to new problems through its unique assets, technologies, and resources to drive disruptive change.

An initiative for collaboration among global education leaders committed to improving education and building the human skills to lead that transformation. The collaboration is a “network of networks” for education, business, politics, entrepreneurs, and civil society.

A virtual university with world-class instructors focused on education for transformation. Notably, each course has limited seats, creating deep, long-lasting relationships with classmates. Ultimately, it aims to promote “global communities of evolutionary systems” to create and propagate change agents to facilitate personal, societal, and planetary transformation.

  • hundrED (2012; Helsinki, Finland; 192 staff)

A global education nonprofit whose mission is to improve education and develop a movement by promoting important, impactful, and scalable innovations globally. Its vision is that education helps every child thrive and that it must change with the times. It helps schools transform by sharing educational innovations. HundrED is interested in how rapid global change affects schools, cultures, and children’s daily lives.

A collaborative movement for joint action aiming to build a broad, multi-stakeholder movement to transform systems. It gathers NGOs, social companies, mediators, funders, and social change innovators working to accomplish the SDGs (SDGs). It is inspired by the idea that our time’s issues require collaborative action and bold new strategies. Catalyst 2030 members are trying to change systems at all levels by forming inclusive and locally led collaborations. Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Marta Nešković earned a recent PhD in Anthropology at the University of Belgrade. She is a researcher at the Institute for Political Studies in Belgrade, a WAAS Junior Fellow, and an SSG Research Associate.

Lorenzo Rodriguez, also an SSG Research Associate, is a native of Venezuela, studying for a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Social Sciences University of Ankara in Turkey.

Michael Marien is the Founder and Senior Principal of The Security & Sustainability Guide.

Special thanks are due to Shannon Kobran of SDSN and Mission 4.7 (#26), who provided names of some 20 important organizations that had not initially come to our attention.


This Guide is part of a “Partnering Potentials Survey“ of selected organizations, conducted in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  The selections made here and the comments are those of the SSG and are not necessarily endorsed by SDSN.

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