Education for sustainability is centrally concerned with the health and wellbeing of individuals and the various systems upon which they depend. Health can involve our individual habits and lifestyle choices or it can involve issues that have broader, societal impacts, such as hunger, water-borne diseases, drug and alcohol abuse, and of course a wide range of environmentally related health conditions caused by poor air quality, climate change, and agricultural and industrial practices that damage the environment.

The terms resiliency and resilience often are used interchangeably and have nearly the same meaning. However, to be precise, resiliency refers to a capacity and resilience refers to the action itself.  Resiliency refers to the capacity of a system to deal with change but continue to function and develop. Resilience often refers to socio-ecological systems such as communities and ecosystems but the term also has been used extensively to refer to the capacity of individuals, and particularly children to bounce back from hardship or trauma. Both of these applications of the idea resiliency are pertinent in the context of education for sustainability.

The big idea of health and resiliency provides students a context for investigating characteristics of healthy, thriving systems. When the various themes and issues associates with sustainability are examined through the lens of resilience thinking, students are encouraged to adopt assets based strategies and to see change as a natural process in complicated systems.  At the same time, students can be encouraged to investigate the variables that contribute to their own resiliency and adaptability to life events. Helping learners see change as an element of healthy, resilient systems can enable them to better understand and embrace change as a positive element in their own lives.  Also, helping learners understand change as a universal phenomenon, can facilitate a better understanding of long time frame phenomena associated with various planetary systems.

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