The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education is a New York City based non-profit founded by Jamie P. Cloud in 1995. The Institute has developed a holistic educational philosophy that involves the individual student along with his or her classroom, school, and community. Known as Education for Sustainability (EfS), this learner-centered method works with the primary influences in the lives of students, knowing that true, long-term change is most easily attained when nearly all major influences support the new vision.
This is the first of three posts that provide Jamie’s answers to several questions I recently posed to her regarding sustainability education.
When and how were you inspired to develop “a different way of thinking”?
[JPC] – I was in one of the first experiments in global education from the 6th-12th grades. As a result, my work began at the age of 11. I grew up in Evanston, Illinois. Our teachers were influenced by Buckminster Fuller and other luminaries of the time. The gist of the experiment was to prepare us to thrive in the 21st Century, to become agents of change and inventors of the future we want. They provided us with learner-centered, constructivist methodologies that produced reflective, flexible and creative questioners, systems thinkers, lateral thinkers, media literate, self-regulated learners prepared to deal with rapid change, increasing complexity and interdependence, uncertainty, diversity, and global challenges, including the environment, peace and security, human rights and human development.
In middle school, I could not have predicted that I would be a founder of the field of Education for Sustainability. The term sustainability and sustainable development, as we understand it today, would not be coined until 1987, nineteen years later, and the field of Education for Sustainability would not be born until 1992 in Chapter 36 of Agenda 21—some 24 years later.
I grew up to become a Global Educator because that’s what I knew. In 1987, when the word sustainability appeared in a U.N. report, Our Common Future, I thought to myself, “That’s the name for the desired condition I want to educate for.” I had been tracking the state of the planet data since 1968—since I was 11. Now I had a word to describe what I saw: The situation was un-sustainable for humans and other species of plants and animals with which we share the planet. Sustain-able seemed like a better idea. Once I had the word, I had the concept. Once I had the concept, I knew I needed to educate for sustainability.
Shortly thereafter, I came across an Einstein quote that we use daily: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that we used to create them. “