Lesson 1 (Level 1): An Introduction to Sustainability

Free Preview


The purpose of this lesson is to establish a foundational understanding of sustainability and to provoke critical thought about education. Participants will read and reflect on Atkisson’s discussion of sustainability that is grounded in the following principles:

  1. You can’t use renewable resources faster than they replenish themselves
  2. A significant fraction of non renewable resources must be directed at finding renewable alternatives
  3. You cannot produce waste faster than nature can absorb it

A consideration of, and written reflection about, Orr’s educational myths will follow:

  1. Ignorance is a solvable problem
  2. With enough knowledge and technology we can control planet Earth
  3. Knowledge is increasing and by implication human goodness
  4. We can adequately restore that which we have dismantled
  5. The purpose of education is that of giving you upward mobility and success
  6. Our culture represents the pinnacle of human achievement

Participants will read and reflect on Orr’s educational principles:

  1. All education is environmental education
  2. The goal of education is mastery of one’s person
  3. Knowledge carries with it the responsibility to see that it is well used in the world
  4. We cannot say we really know something until we understand the effects of this knowledge on real people and their communities
  5. Educators must be role models and lead by example
  6. The way learning occurs is as important as the content of the course

Participants will also be (re)introduced to the Sustainable Development Goals. Taken from the United Nations COP 21 in Paris, these goals form the “blueprint” for our moving forward toward a sustainable future.

The lesson concludes with a written reflection on the following essential question.

Essential Question:  To what extent is education one of the primary drivers of unsustainability and how does this support/challenge our ambitions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals?

Outcome: Discuss the imperative for sustainability education and how it fits into the world’s transition toward a sustainable future.



  2. READ: Chapter seven of Believing Cassandra
    • 1(a) Reflect on your understanding of sustainability
  4. READ What is education for?  by David Orr
  5. WATCH: We the People for the Sustainable Development Goals
    • 1(b) Write your reflection in your workbook under 1(b)
    • 1(c) Reflect on the extent to which education is one of the primary drivers of unsustainability and how it supports/challenges our ambitions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.


uploadSubmit Your Work

Compass Education Level 1: Sustainability Education

Your Information

First Name
You will receive an email confirmation at this email address
Just copy and paste from lesson title above.

Share the link to your Google Doc or upload your document

Drop a file here or click to upload Choose File
Maximum upload size: 516MB
Back to: Compass Education Level 1: Sustainability Education