The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education defines sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (which the Institute refers to as “sustainability education”) in ways that echo the central tenets of intergenerational equity and the “triple bottom line” espoused elsewhere in American ESD. Like Shelburne Farms, however, the Cloud Institute further elaborates the idea of sustainability education with a set of principles and pedagogical strategies, and offers a set of key characteristics of sustainability education, shown in Table 5 (below).
Characteristics features of sustainability education
As outlined in the documents of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education (Table 5. Sustainability Education, as conceptualized by the Cloud Institute.)
Even on cursory examination, this vision of ESD is noticeably more oriented toward action and decision-making than other ESD frameworks, and somewhat less oriented toward reflection and critical thinking. This is in keeping with the Cloud Institute’s “Framework for Education for Sustainability,” which portrays individuals and classrooms as change agents within a set of nested social systems (see Figure 2, below).
Like the other NGOs described above, the Cloud Institute produces ESD resources, such as two secondary school courses on sustainable design and sustainable enterprise that it developed on behalf of the New York City public schools. Unlike many other NGOs, the Cloud Institute plays an unusual role as a sustainability consulting service for school systems that are attempting to adopt
sustainability as a central theme in their pedagogy and policies. The exact nature of this service varies from project to project, but it typically involves a prolonged on-site consultation process with school staff, in which staff are required to develop both a shared understanding of sustainability and what the institute’s director, Jaimie Cloud, refers to as “a personal rationale for why they should do [sustainability education]” (Cloud, 2009b).
Public schools that adopt sustainability principles rarely do so in isolation. In some cases, they are constituent members of districts or regions that have chosen to collectively pursue sustainability based reform (such as the Putnam/North Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services in New York State, which is working with the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education). In other cases, they are members of more diffuse statewide networks that share materials and expertise.
The only unpredictable factors in this picture are the professional networks, networks such as the National Science Teachers Association and the National School Boards Association. Although these networks exert a weak and irregular influence on classroom practice, they are capable of spreading key ideas and expanding opportunities for interested practitioners on a national scale. If
NGOs such as the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development (USPESD), the Cloud Institute or Shelburne Farms are able to capture the interest of these networks despite competing priorities, ESD practice is spreading across the country more rapidly.
Statewide networks of public schools with a sustainability focus can be found in states such as:
Vermont (http://www.sustainableschoolsproject.org/), Oregon (http://sustainableschools.org/),
California (http://www.green.ca.gov/GreenBuildings/schools.htm), and New Jersey (http://www.globallearningnj.org/ssn.htm).
Schools / Districts Clients
Academy for Conservation & The Environment (NY)
Alain L. Locke Elementary – PS 208 (NY)
Barack Obama Green Charter School (NJ)
Bronx Guild High School (NY)
Brooklyn New School – PS 146 (NY)
Cherry Hill Public Schools (NJ)
Cranford Public School District (NJ)
Denver Green School (CO)
Ethical Culture Fieldston School (NY)
Gateway National Park Youth Program (NY)
Green School, The (NY)
Harley School, The (NY)
Hathaway Brown School (OH)
Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HI)
Kapälama Middle School (HI)
Marin Country Day School (CA)
Metro Expeditionary Learning School – MELS (NY)
New Roots Charter School (NY)
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES (NY)
Rockaway Park HS for Environmental Sustainability (NY)
Shore Country Day School (MA)
Southern Connecticut State University (CT)
St. Paul’s Episcopal – Lakeview (LA)
Trevor Day School (NY)
Unity Charter School (NJ)