Outreach and Education

The pressing reality and consequences of climate change has inspired many initiatives in schools falling under the banner of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Adherents believe that merely providing information about the symptoms of our social and environmental crises is not sufficient to create a sustainable society. The cultivation of genuine care and compassion, together with the development of practical competencies, must follow awareness if young people are to develop true ecological literacy — attitudes and aptitudes consistent with a sustainable world.

Some propose a "pedagogy of place" as the most effective way to inculcate such qualities, stressing the importance of creating learning environments where young people can develop meaningful relationships with their immediate environment as well as the skills to design and propose solutions to the problems they may encounter there. ESD is therefore most successful when it is embedded into the very fabric of school life. By embracing sustainability as a vital topic within the classroom, students develop responsibility in their personal and everyday actions. Real-world experiences through internships, for example, can help students better understand subject matter.

Ecological literacy views the school and its ethos, environment, community and curriculum as an interrelated whole. A transition to this outlook requires nothing less than a complete refashioning of the ways in which we think about and relate to each other and the world in which we live. This "ecological enlightenment" entails the radical transformation of education itself, so that it may become radically transformative.

Sustainable outreach and education targets CUNY students, staff and faculty as well as the wider New York City community of which the University is part. Measures in this area include broadening the number of credit and noncredit CUNY courses that have sustainability in their content as well as engaging student groups, local employers and community organizations to participate in the process of defining and implementing CUNY's overall sustainability plan. Awareness-raising campaigns, competitions and public events are an integral part of this education process.

Brooklyn College is addressing these issues by:

  • having convened students, staff and faculty to brainstorm on greening our campus through the college's Sustainability Visioning Session series, coordinated by the Sustainability Council;
  • enhancing student training in and awareness of sustainability issues and green jobs through the Magner Career Center, College Now, the Provost's Task Force on Sustainability, the Urban Sustainability Program, the Department of Economics and the Student Center's Small Business Center;
  • raising campus awareness about the college's efforts to go green;
  • incorporating sustainability into classes and campus activities and events; and
  • working with the Office of Communications and Marketing to design and launch a public relations campaign.