What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the principle of meeting current needs without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

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Related Facing the Future Resources

Sustainability Readings
chapter 2 of our high school text, Exploring Global Issues units 1, 6, and 7 of our supplemental high school text, It's All Connected
chapters 1 and 9 of our middle school text, Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions

week 1 of our Newspapers in Education articles

Sustainability Lessons

  • Apples to Apples? (Grades 9-12)
    Students explore the idea of sustainability as a continuum or process by evaluating two seemingly identical apples according to various sustainability criteria. In a discussion, they consider how ambiguity is inherent in complex decision-making.
  • Drilling Down to Sustainability (Grades 9-12)
    Students discuss and debate the sustainability of various resource extraction methods and determine if alternatives would be more  sustainable.
  • Environmental Issues and Solutions (Grades 6-12 and Intermediate ELL)
    Brainstorm and writing activities introduce students to thinking about environmental resources and possible problems. After learning vocabulary related to current environmental issues, students engage in a dialogue about freshwater scarcity. Students learn to identify cause and effect statements, and then use this skill during a jigsaw activity in which they read about three environmental issues: climate change, deforestation, and freshwater scarcity. Students are asked to consider their perspectives on climate change solutions by writing a persuasive essay. The chapter culminates with a hands-on collaborative activity in which they consider the impacts of everyday items on the environment.
  • From Earth Charter to School Community (Grades 9-12)
    Students use the Earth Charter as a guiding document to brainstorm ways that their school community could support sustainability. They envision how their school might be different if it was modeled after the Earth Charter’s 16 principles encompassing ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace.
  • Humans & the Environment (Grades K-3)
    In the first of three activities, students consider how everyday items like water and wooden blocks are made from materials in nature. During a nature walk, students identify both natural and human-made materials and consider how humans impact our environment and why it is important to protect natural resources.
  • Is It Sustainable? (Grades 9-12)
    Students use a common sustainability framework to analyze the sustainability of a variety of actions taken by individuals, businesses, and governments. In small groups, they determine ways to increase the sustainability of these actions.
  • School Sustainability Audit (Grades 6-8)
    On Day 1, students perform a sustainability audit of their school in 4 groups (Energy, Water, Waste, and Transportation). On Day 2, each group writes a news article and presents their audit results and recommendations to the class.
  • Visioning Sustainability (Grades 9-12)
    Students envision what a sustainable community looks like by determining what economic, environmental, and cultural elements should and should not be included.

About Us

We equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future through hands-on curricula and professional learning.

Facing the Future is an
independent program of WWU