Learning Expectations for Transformative Education
SDG 4.7 calls on us to, "by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development."
In order to encourage this kinds of transformative education outlined in Target 4.7, these learning areas must be translated to specific competencies that educators can design curriculum and learning experiences around. This section presents a proposed set of Learning Expectations by grade band that are designed to promote knowledge, attitudes, and skills for transformative education while aligning to common standards in core subjects.
Following the Learning Expectations below, read on to explore existing frameworks that align with SDG 4.7 and inform the Learning Expectations, such as 21st Century skills, Social-Emotional Learning, and Action Civics. The section further presents case studies on existing curricular standards and an analysis of the gaps and opportunities.
First Things First: Basic Literacy and Numeracy are a Priority
Cognitive skills are tools that help to acquire knowledge, and combined with effective skills such as attitude and behaviors, are able to produce the desired competencies. The global discourse on the types of skills that are required has become mainstreamed with the Sustainable Development Goals focused on learning outcomes. During the Millennium Development Goals, access to schooling and gender equity gathered much momentum. However, the focus on quality education was weakly measured until recently.
In the last 10 years, the hidden learning crisis has become the focus of global education, as evidenced by the 2019 introduction by the World Bank and UNESCO of a new multidimensional indicator to measure Learning Poverty. In most developing countries, however, the reality is that by the time the child reaches grade 1 of primary schooling, she/he/they is developmentally behind in every learning and anthropometric measures. Entering Grade 1 should be the stepping-stone to success, but many schools are failing to make children even grade 1 ready. The learning lag continues to widen even further in primary education. Even among the children who attend school, there are 130 million children who still cannot read or do basic math after four years. In recent assessments in Ghana and Malawi, more than 80% of students at the end of grade 2 were unable to read a single familiar word such as the or cat.
COVID-19 has made learning goals much worse off. The World Bank has estimated that due to learning losses and increases in dropout rates, this generation of students stand to lose an estimated $10 trillion in earnings, or almost 10 percent of global GDP, and countries will be driven even further off-track to achieving their Learning Poverty goals – potentially increasing Learning Poverty levels to 63 percent.
Basic numeracy and literacy are the building blocks of higher-order thinking. With SDG 4, the focus on achieving learning outcomes and expanding learning opportunities throughout one’s life-span became the center of education dialogues. With SDG 4, “quality education” needed to be measured and reported. What should these learning outcomes be? At the very minimum, every student needed to have basic literacy and numeracy skills, as defined by the respective countries. Although these are floor-level competencies, millions of children are still lagging behind. It is estimated that on average, children are at least 2 grade levels behind what they ought to be. It is estimated that at the secondary level, there are 617 million youth worldwide that lack basic mathematics and literacy skills. The education systems have failed many students in helping them to reach the top level of the learning ladder.
Moving Beyond the Basics with Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes to Achieve the SDGs: Adapting Learning Expectations for SDG 4.7
Goal 4 on Education has given the world an opportunity to think beyond literacy and numeracy and subject area silos to consider the possibilities of defining what education goals should be for the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs. Transformative education as outlined in SDG 4.7 looks at the possibilities to teach community problem-solving, teamwork, self-awareness and empathy, civic participation, and skills for resilience across the lifelong learning spectrum.
The Learning Expectations for SDG 4.7 presented below are adapted in part from UNESCO's 2017 report "Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives". For each of the 17 SDGs, the UNESCO report presents 15 learning objectives across three learning categories - cognitive, social-emotional and behavioral. For each SDG, topics are suggested to help achieve the learning objectives. The learning objectives intersect with other common education and action frameworks such as 21st Century skills, climate and environmental justice, green skills, and action civics, however they lack grade-lever specificity and guidance on how to apply the objectives to core subjects.
To make UNESCO’s learning framework more easily applicable to specific grades, Mission 4.7 conducted an extensive mapping exercise to identify alignments between the UNESCO standards and common science and social science standards. The grade-by-grade Next Generation Science and Social Science Standards for New Jersey was used as the first sample curriculum for the mapping exercise.
This mapping informed development of generalized learning expectations according to 4 grade bands - lower primary, upper primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary. These learning expectations can help guide curriculum developers, education system and school leaders, and educators in integrating SDG 4.7 content knowledge, skills, and attitudes across subjects and grade levels. In other words, education stakeholders will be able to answer the question: what should a student of grade 2 know about the SDGs, Education for Sustainable Development, and Global Citizenship?
These learning expectations are a reference point rather than a comprehensive set of skills and competencies that students must have. In developing these grade level competencies, the team developed analysis criteria, conducted multiple panel discussions and internal discussions to understand needs and priorities while avoiding discrepancies and redundancies. The Mission 4.7 team is aware that not all the proposed learning expectations may be applicable for all countries given the different national standards and common practices. However, we hope that this attempt to provide a baseline for further improvement can support educators in progressing toward achievement of SDG 4.7 and the SDGs more broadly.
Learning Expectations by Grade Band
Cognitive Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Define research questions, develop criterion and constraints for successes and failures, make observations, gather information, and analyze data in order to design and conduct fair tests of potential sustainability solutions. (e.g. green roofs and school gardens, rainwater harvesting, daylighting old river beds, sustainable urban drainage, reducing use of single-use plastics at school, etc).
Determine what makes a good rule or law, and explain that good rules and laws include those that draw on strengths, are pro-poor, ecologically sound, gender sensitive, and which promote equity and justice. Cite examples of rules or laws at the local, national or international level that are pro-poor and gender-sensitive to help promote fairness.
Describe roles and responsibilities of community and local government leaders and decision-makers as they relate to promoting equity, sustainability, and justice. Know how to find who your elected representatives are and how to reach them (e.g. through their websites, email, social media, and through testimony at public meetings.
Understand that inequality is a major driver of social, environmental, and economic challenges and individual dissatisfaction. Cite examples of choices people make when resources are scarce, and how these choices can lead to compounding sustainable development challenges and contribute to inequality.
Cite examples of how humans depend on the environment and its natural resources.
Understands the potential of various sustainable development solutions and how they can help mitigate negative impacts, including solutions like renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and reducing food waste, alternative transportation, minimizing use of single-use plastic, affordable housing and healthcare services, and others.
Use technology and geospatial data to observe how physical environmental characteristics, both natural and human-built, correlate with indicators of sustainable development such as rates of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, health, education, and employment.
Make a model representing a potential sustainable development solution and how it disrupts the sustainable development challenge(s).
Social-Emotional Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Recognize and reflect on why it is important that individuals assume personal and civic responsibilities for promoting sustainable development and acting as global citizens, including by considering their personal demands on the local infrastructure such as their carbon and water footprints and food miles, and generating possible solutions to sustainable development challenges in the community, considering feasibility, resource constraints, and potential impacts.
Engage in discussions effectively by asking questions, considering facts, listening to the ideas of others, and sharing opinions with peers, family members, and community members to listen and learn to how they perceive of key sustainable development challenges and opportunities in the community.
Cite examples of how individuals can support themselves and others in taking action to promote sustainable development, equality, and justice. Recognize their potential as a change agent through their decisions and actions to help minimize negative impacts and promote solutions.
Work collaboratively with peers, teachers, and community members to accomplish common tasks, establish responsibilities, and fulfill roles of responsibility to address sustainable development challenges.
Reflect on why certain groups are more vulnerable to environmental, social, and economic threats. Feel empathy and solidarity for others by learning about disaster (human and natural) impacts and risk mitigation efforts that result from unsustainable practices.
Use examples from a variety of sources to describe how certain characteristics can help individuals collaborate and solve sustainable development challenges (e.g., open-mindedness, compassion, empathy, civility, persistence, resilience).
Behavioral Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play important roles in a community and express their ideas for how they can play a role in promoting sustainable development solutions within their spheres of influence (e.g. speaking to friends, family members, neighbors, community leaders, town elders).
Make consumption decisions with an understanding of how supply and demand, including their own individual consumer choices, can have an impact on promoting more sustainable output and production. Explain to peers and adults how their own consumer choices can also have an impact on promoting more sustainable output and production.
Establish a process for how individuals can effectively work together to make decisions and create action plans for addressing sustainable development challenges in their communities (e.g.to promote low carbon approaches, reduce waste generation, increase energy and water efficiency, promote responsible consumption, improved sanitation, etc)
Design and carry out fair tests of sustainable development solutions that can benefit the community, starting from defining the hypothesis, conducting research and speaking to leaders and key stakeholders, stating the sustainable development challenge, developing a design/solution, testing it in the field, and communicating the results to decision-makers with clear demands for policy action (e.g. on reducing food wastage, improving water quality, providing equitable access to natural resources to all residents and others)
Identify, observe, and evaluate the quality of existing local resources (e.g. water, air, soil, health facilities, parks) by mapping their community and brainstorming potential solutions that provide equitable access to resources to everyone in the neighborhood.
Communicate and advocate for sustainable, resilient and inclusive infrastructure solutions in the local area that will reduce the negative impacts of climate change, inequality, and injustice.
Cognitive Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Cite examples from a variety of sources to describe how national and international leaders, businesses, and global organizations promote human rights, gender equality, and sustainable development (e.g. through sustainable agriculture, access to quality education, enabling technology, clean water, and fair work opportunities) and aid individuals and nations in need (e.g. due to conflict and natural disaster, suppression of rights).
Understand concepts of industrialization and society’s needs and the tensions between sustainable development by comparing alternative solutions to a present day city/town infrastructure/city planning problem using criteria for successes and failures.
Illustrate how production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services are interrelated and are affected by the global market and events in the world community. Cite examples of how unjust production, distribution, and consumption of natural resources, goods and services contribute to poverty and wealth inequality, hunger and malnutrition, inequality and other social ills, and how more just practices can contribute to addressing these sustainability challenges.
Understand that inequality is a major driver for societal problems and individual dissatisfaction, and develop claims backed by assumptions and data for solutions to reduce inequalities (e.g. provision of equal access to infrastructure, looking at gender and race disparities in access to pollution-free neighborhoods).
Examine the responsibilities of differing positions of authority (i.e. in elected and appointed government positions, business, religion, etc) and identify criteria that are likely to make leaders qualified for those positions, such as taking actions to eradicate poverty, uphold justice and promote equality, protect against corruption, and conserve natural resources and biodiversity.
Obtain and combine information to describe how energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and how their use in unsustainable energy production harms the environment. Describe how renewable energy technologies can help to drive sustainable development.
Describe the services our government provides the people in a community, state, and country, such as green spaces, quality schools early childhood care, and lifelong learning opportunities, sustainable waste management services, healthcare facilities, justice systems, sustainable infrastructure , etc) Identify resources or services that they think could help improve health, well-being, equality, and/or sustainability in their community, and approaches they think local government can take to help implement those solutions.
Evaluate and compare the sustainability of their communities in meeting their needs - particularly in the areas of food, energy, transport, water, safety, waste treatment, inclusion and accessibility, education, integration of green spaces and/or disaster risk reduction, by defining a simple design problem reflecting the need or that includes specified criterion for successes and constraints on materials, time or cost.
Identify actions that are unfair or discriminatory, such as unequal access to clean water and healthy food, education, work and entrepreneurship opportunities, technology and how those unfair actions can negatively impact health and well-being, particularly among marginalized groups. Cite examples of how such unfair or discriminatory actions have impacted and continue to impact the health and well-being of individuals and groups.
Describe roles, rights ,and duties of different actors in production and consumption (media and advertising, enterprises, municipalities, legislation, consumers, etc) and cite relevant scientific data and information to promote more sustainable production and consumption in their family and community.
Explain how cultural and environmental characteristics affect the distribution and movement of people, goods, and ideas. Cite examples of how certain cultural and environmental characteristics can lead to unequal distribution of wealth and contribute to poverty and inequality among different populations. Describe how cultural norms and practices can help inform actions to achieve sustainability.
Collaborate with others and develop commonly agreed-upon strategies towards a SD topic by team work on planning and carrying out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. These topics could range from looking at the use natural resources locally, waste disposal, food wastage in the neighborhood.
Social-Emotional Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Identify the types of behaviors and attitudes that promote collaboration and problem solving with others who have different perspectives (e.g. active listening, a sense of empowerment, ability to self-reflect on one's own role in sustainability challenges, and to communicate a vision to help motivate others, etc). Use a variety of sources and examples to describe how such behaviors and attitudes exhibited by real and fictional people have contribute(d) to improved sustainable development (e.g. through improved health and well-being, addressing violence and injustice, promoting sustainable agriculture and fisheries, biodiversity, etc).
Evaluate their personal impact on the world's climate by generating and comparing multiple possible solutions and recognizing the constraints and limits of each model, looking at topics such as local biodiversity, universal access to clean water, reducing poverty rates, and improving energy efficiency.
Explain how and why it is important that people from diverse cultures understand different perspectives and collaborate to find solutions to community, state, national, and global challenges in an interconnected world. Describe how cross-cultural collaboration can foster empathy and solidarity with people experiencing various forms of poverty, hunger, illness, oppression, inequality, and/or injustice.
Recognize that the protection of the global climate is an essential task for everyone and evaluates, and obtains, combines, and shares information about ways individuals and communities can use science to protect Earth's resources.
Identify positive and negative incentives that influence the decisions people make, and explain how scarcity and choice influence decisions made by individuals, communities, and nations. Cite examples for how these incentives can be leveraged by individuals to engage with education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, and/or leveraged to influence decision-makers to change the ways they do policy and/or business to address poverty and inequality, promote well-being, and prevent resource scarcity, particularly among vulnerable populations.
Explain ecosystem dynamics and the environmental, social, economic and ethical impacts of a sustainable development challenge through hypothesis testing, collecting and analyzing data, and discussing the solution that pertains to a SD topic (energy efficiency, malnutrition, life below water, life on land, etc).
Evaluate the impact of different interpretations of experiences and events, such as those relating to poverty, hunger and malnutrition, illness, discrimination, natural hazards, climate change, conflict, denial of education, and/or exploitative work conditions such as sweatshops, child labor and modern slavery, by people with different cultural and individual perspectives and direct experience with such challenges.
Describe ways in which people benefit from and are challenged by working together, including through government, workplaces, voluntary organizations, and families. Cite ideas for how young people can collaborate through such avenues to promote health and well-being, access to sustainably produced food and clean water, education, justice, and/or opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship for all.
Explain how cultural and environmental characteristics affect the distribution and movement of people, goods, and ideas. Cite examples of how cultural norms and practices can help inform actions to achieve sustainability.
Behavioral Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Describe the roles of elected representatives and explain how individuals at local, state/regional, and national levels can interact with them and help initiate and/or influence local, state/regional, or national public policymaking and participate in government (e.g., petitions, proposing laws, contacting elected officials) to promote health and well-being, access to sustainably produced food and clean water, education, justice, and/or opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship for all.
Evaluate whether their day-to-day activities promote sustainable development (careful use of water, avoiding plastic, supporting locally grown food and small business owners, avoiding plastic, etc) by obtaining and combining information to make connections between individual energy consumption and production from natural resources (oil, gas, trees, soil, and others).
Evaluate school and community rules, laws and/or policies and determine how well they protect against discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and/or ability, promote access to key services like quality education, and/or promote sustainable agriculture, infrastructure, fisheries, etc. Compare procedures for making decisions in a variety of settings including classroom, school, government, and /or society.
Challenge cultural and societal orientations in consumption and production of goods with a lens of sustainable development by generating and comparing multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the sustainable development problem (maintaining ecosystems to avoid disasters, maintaining bio-diversity, addressing economic inequalities, maintaining water resources etc).
Compare and contrast responses of individuals and groups, past and present, to violations of fundamental rights (e.g., civil rights, human rights, right to education). Describe how the actions of historical civil rights, social and environmental change leaders (e.g. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, Muhammad Yunus, Malala Yousafzai, and others) served as catalysts for social change. Share examples of how they can adapt actions taken by change leaders to inspire their peers, families, community members, and leaders to take action to promote equality, justice, and sustainable development solutions (like sustainable agriculture, infrastructure, and clean energy).
Take on critically their role as an active stakeholder in the community to promote SD solutions by using scientific evidence in articulating the problem, making a claim, collecting and analyzing data, and encouraging family and community members to consider the scientific evidence in their decision-making to solve a SD issue in the community (efficient use of energy, stopping pollution, recycling, reducing water consumption).
Use quantitative data to engage in cost benefit analyses of decisions that impact the individual and/or community, and consider how changes in supply and demand can influence price and output of products in order to maximize community benefits and sustainability, and minimize harms to communities and the environment.
Compare the qualifications of candidates running for local, state, or national public office with the responsibilities of the position. Explain how elections can serve as opportunities to publicly demand and support the development and integration of policies that promote social and economic justice, health and well-being, risk reduction strategies, and eradication of poverty and hunger.
Promote low carbon approaches (composting, reducing food waste, food consumption patterns) at the local level by generating and comparing multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of the human foot print on Earth.
Cognitive Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Evaluate, take, and defend a position on why government is necessary for achieving sustainable development and addressing climate change. Using a specific sustainable development challenge (e.g. climate change, gender inequality, hunger, poverty, inequitable access to healthcare and education), describe how government should address the challenge through policy and cooperation across local, national, and global levels.
Using quantitative data, evaluate the opportunity cost of a proposed economic action, and take a position and support it (e.g., healthcare, education, sustainable infrastructure, clean energy, sustainable oceans and fisheries, sustainable agriculture).
Develop and use science models to learn about chemical reactions and understand different energy resources – renewable and non-renewable – and their respective advantages and disadvantages including environmental impacts, health issues, usage, safety and energy security, and their share in the energy mix at the local, national and global level.
Using quantitative and qualitative data, assess the impact of government incentives and disincentives on the economy (e.g., equal rights to protection of private property, taxes). Describe how government incentives and/or disincentives can be leveraged to promote shifts to sustainable economies (e.g. shifting from traditional to sustainable agriculture, preventative healthcare, lifelong learning and ESD, shifting from polluting to clean energy, more sustainable diets, etc).
Analyze and interpret data on energy in chemical processes and everyday life (e.g. Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy) and understands basic ecology with reference to local and global ecosystems, identifying local species and understanding the measure of biodiversity.
Explain how civilizations at different times in history have used technology and innovation to enhance agricultural/ manufacturing output and commerce, to expand military capabilities, to improve life in urban areas, and to allow for greater division of labor. Assess these technological innovations in terms of their sustainability and impacts on equality/inequality, and propose ways that technology and innovation can promote more sustainable agricultural, manufacturing, infrastructural, and labor practices.
Construct explanations and design community-based solutions on ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience to understand the manifold threats posed to biodiversity, including habitat loss, deforestation, fragmentation, over-exploitation and invasive species, and can relate these threats to their local biodiversity.
Use mathematics and computational thinking to understand Earth's delicate balance with its electromagnetic radiation to support life on land and below water. By extension understand the ecological balance locally and is able to develop measures for disaster risk reduction (flooding, water logging in low lying areas, landslides and other natural disasters).
Plan and carry out investigations locally on the human impact of climate change and is able to understands the role of local decision-makers and participatory governance and the importance of representing a sustainable voice in planning and policy for their area.
Social-Emotional Learning Expectations
The Learner will be able to...
Investigate the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people’s access to natural resources and services such as healthy food, clean water and hygiene, healthcare, education, and due process/justice. Consider how different individuals and groups are directly or indirectly impacted by these organizations, and share this information with individuals who might benefit from this information.
Connect with and help community groups locally to make their communities more sustainability-focused by using science based inquiry (asking questions and defining problems) by investigating the use of natural resources locally and proposing more efficient ways.
Use primary and secondary sources to assess the degree to which human rights of freedom and equal protection under law have been fulfilled, historically and currently, for historically marginalized populations such as women, racial minorities, religious minorities, indigenous peoples, and LGBTQ+ communities in local, national, and global contexts. Propose actions that individuals can take to pursue equality and justice for all.
Show people the impact humanity is having on a sustainable development topic ( for e.g. the pollution oceans, biomass loss, acidification, pollution, etc.) and the value of clean healthy oceans through engaging in argument from evidence on the human impacts on earth systems both locally and globally.
Recognize and reflect on their own personal demands on the local infrastructure such as their carbon and water footprints and food miles by analyzing and interpreting data the history of planet earth by keeping focus on adaptation and resilience. RESOURCES
Argue against unsustainable practices and communicate about pollution (soil, water, air and others) and natural resource-saving measures and is able to create visibility about success stories using science-based design solutions and is able to develop possible solutions for local communities.
Connect with their local natural areas and feel empathy with non-human life on Earth by obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information on the role of weather and climate and the impact of changing patterns on human lifestyles.
Behavioral Learning Expectations
This Learner is able to...
Construct a claim as to why it is important that individuals are informed by facts, aware of diverse viewpoints, and willing to take action on public issues to promote solutions, using a sustainable development challenge as an example.
Apply and evaluate measures to increase energy efficiency and sufficiency in their personal sphere and to increase the share of renewable energy in their local energy mix. In doing so, they are able to analyze and interpret data to make informed decisions about energy consumption and find sustainable alternatives.
Use a variety of sources from multiple perspectives to examine how powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts can contribute to and/or hinder pursuit of equality, justice, and/or sustainable development. Describe how individual citizens can influence these different groups to promote equality, justice, and/or sustainable development (e.g. sharing information with a governmental or nongovernmental organization as a way to gain support for addressing the issue).
Evaluate whether their personal lifestyle related activities are climate friendly and – where not – to revise them based on obtaining, evaluating and communicating information to family and friends especially relating to carbon footprint and climate change.
Identify an issue of inequality (e.g. poverty, hunger, lack of access to clean water, hygiene, or healthcare, lack of economic opportunities, lack of access to education) and describe how it impacts vulnerable groups (i.e. based on gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc). Develop multiple solutions, and communicate the best one to an appropriate government body and/or elected representatives.
Engage in simulated democratic processes (e.g., legislative hearings, judicial proceedings, elections) focused on a specific budget issue or policy relating to a sustainable development challenge (addressing climate change, investing in sustainable agriculture and infrastructure, providing quality healthcare and education) to understand how conflicting points of view are addressed in a democratic society in order to pursue solutions. Identify challenges that arise in these democratic processes and describe how they might be overcome.
Act as an agent of change in local decision-making, speaking up against injustice in solidarity with impacted communities, by using science as a tool to construct explanations and design solutions for equitable access to sustainable resources.
Connect with local groups working toward biodiversity conservation in their area by developing and using science-based models to showcase the interdependent nature of living beings on Earth.
Cognitive Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Evaluate efforts of governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations to address economic imbalances, social inequalities, climate change, health and/or illiteracy. Draw from multiple perspectives and cite evidence to determine the extent to which nongovernmental organizations, special interest groups, third party political groups, and the media affect public policy. Use a variety of sources from diverse perspective to analyze the social, economic and political contributions of marginalized and underrepresented groups and/or individuals.
Cite examples of prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies at different levels (global to individual) and for different contexts, and their connections with disaster response and disaster risk reduction by using mathematical and computational skills linking to ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience.
Evaluate the impact of education in improving economic opportunities and in the development of responsible citizens.
Describe the basic premise of climate change and the role of the oceans in moderating our climate and engages in argument from evidence on the role of water on Earth.
Explain why natural resources (i.e., fossil fuels, food, and water) continue to be a source of conflict and analyze how the learner's country, other nations, and international bodies like the UN have addressed issues concerning the distribution and sustainability of natural resources and climate change. Provide examples of how the international community can minimize conflict over natural resources by investing in sustainability solutions (i.e. clean energy, sustainable agriculture and infrastructure).
Understand that realistic conservation strategies work outside pure nature reserves to also improve legislation, restore degraded habitats and soils, connect wildlife corridors, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and redress humanity’s relationship to wildlife, is able to effectively obtain, evaluate, and communicate information through the lens of the history of planet Earth.
Determine how, and the extent to which, scientific and technological changes, transportation, and new forms of energy brought about social, economic, and cultural changes in the world.
Describe the harmful impacts of unsustainable energy production, understands how renewable energy technologies can help to drive sustainable development and understands the need for new and innovative technologies by planning and carrying out investigations to conserve energy and move towards a sustainable source.
Describe roles, rights ,and duties of different actors in production and consumption (media and advertising, enterprises, municipalities, legislation, consumers, etc) and use scientific data to design solutions and communicate the importance of moving toward more sustainable consumption sources and patterns in their own community.
Assess and understand the need for affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy for their own communities by investigating the models of countries and analyzing and comparing various models towards efficient use of energy and its conservation.
Social-Emotional Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Explore the various ways women, minoritized racial and ethnic groups, the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities have contributed to the global economy, politics and society. Use a variety of sources from diverse perspective to analyze the social, economic and political contributions of marginalized and underrepresented groups and/or individuals.
Explain ecosystem dynamics and the environmental, social, economic and ethical impacts of climate change by planning and carrying out investigations on sustainability topics (weather, natural disasters, inequality, etc) that affect the learner's community and globally.
Influence groups that engage in unsustainable production and consumption of products and natural resources (from oceans and land) and develops a model to show the interdependent relationships between humans and ecosystems.
Use current events to judge to what extent the government should intervene at the local, state, and national levels on issues related to the economy.
Analyze a current foreign policy issue by considering current and historical perspectives, examining strategies, and presenting possible actions.
Encourage others in their family and community to engage in sustainable consumption and production practices by communicating the results of research and data analysis on the benefits of sustainable practices (reducing waste, efficient used of resources etc), and by engaging in evidence-based argument about global climate change solutions.
Behavioral Learning Expectations
The Learner is able to...
Collaborate with students from other countries to develop possible solutions to an issue of environmental justice, including climate change and water scarcity, and present those solutions to relevant national and international governmental and/or nongovernmental organizations.
Act in favor of people threatened by climate change by analyzing and interpreting local and global data, reflecting on their share of sustainable resources, and finding solutions towards renewable resources for all.
Evaluate the impact of individual, business, and government decisions and actions on the environment and climate change and assess the efficacy of government policies and agencies in addressing these decisions.
Debate sustainable methods such as strict fishing quotas and moratoriums on species in danger of extinction and other sustainable policies and regulations by constructing explanations and designing solutions keeping global climate change as the focus.
Develop plan for public accountability and transparency in government related to a particular issue(s) and share the plan with appropriate government officials.
Campaign for international awareness of species exploitation and work for the implementation and development of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) regulations by asking questions and defining problems and deliberating on the policy solutions.
Participate in a simulated meeting (e.g., President's Council, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), research evidence from multiple sources about an economic problem (e.g., inflation, unemployment, deficit), and develop a plan of action.
Apply and evaluate measures in order to increase energy efficiency and sufficiency in their personal sphere and to increase the share of renewable energy in their local energy mix by constructing explanations and designing solutions for equitable access for all.
Plan, implement and evaluate consumption-related activities using existing sustainability criteria and uses data analysis and interpretation to influence community members on sustainability oriented practices (especially conversation, efficient use of resources, reducing waste).
Review of Intersecting Frameworks Informing the Learning Expectations and Implementation Approaches for SDG 4.7
The framework reviews summarized below highlight how these respective frameworks overlap with SDG 4.7, education for sustainable development, and global citizenship. These frameworks have informed the development of our Learning Expectations for inculcating the kinds of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to achieve SDG 4.7.
Social Emotional Learning
Some education systems have begun to reorient themselves toward a broader sense of purpose that not only aims to go beyond developing the cognitive, academic, and technical competencies of learners, but also aims to promote learner well-being by developing social and emotional competencies as well. While this is an important and welcome shift, and teachers and students in such systems are often enthusiastic and well-intentioned in implementing such policy shifts, Shirley notes that school well-being programs tend to focus on a narrow conception of well-being. Well-being is conceived of in an individualist sense that prioritizes positive feelings within individuals and functions to pacify teachers and students to better manage the unhealthy levels of stress inherent to education systems that still largely revolve around high-stakes testing. As Simmons notes, many popular SEL frameworks do not explicitly confront forms of racist violence and various societal inequities. Programs aimed at improving well-being and social-emotional skills are often taught in ways that are divorced from the larger sociopolitical context, and without considering the potential for improved well-being that comes from learning and applying skills for recognizing injustices and taking action toward addressing them.
There is ample evidence that SEL needs to expand much more than what was required before COVID-19. With SEL being the immediate need in curricula across all levels, values such as empathy towards each other and towards the planet will help communities to recover from this pandemic and avoid future pandemics (Iyengar, 2021). Religious leaders like the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis have emphasized empathy towards each other and our environment. The importance of value driven education has been stated much before. The first word revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was "Iqra", meaning to read (emphasis on seeking knowledge and learning). Pope Francis's Laudato Si4, or "On Care for Our Common Home," urges us to be empathetic about our environment. This "Environmental encyclical" is a meeting point between the environment and spirituality. He delicately balances using scientific words such as "global warming" and "carbon emission" and puts it in a spiritual perspective. Pope Francis takes his inspiration from St Francis of Assisi and relates to nature as "sister earth", "brother sun" and "sister moon". He urges humanity to connect with different aspects of the planet to cultivate the "ecological virtues". A broadened understanding of SEL that incorporates empathy for our shared home on earth as an extension of empathy for each other, and that links individual and community resilience to environmental resilience, can help raise awareness of how issues like environmental degradation and biodiversity loss pave the way for spread of deadly pandemics like COVID-19, droughts that cause mass hunger, and other human challenges.
Pope calls for a "consciousness-raising" to prevent further all the health and environmental risks caused by humankind. An approach to SEL that incorporates empathy for each other and for the environment will help us to be mindful of our own actions and will help us to look deeper within ourselves to break the "myths" of a modernity grounded in a utilitarian mindset (individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, the unregulated market)." This reflective practice will also help in "establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other
living creatures, and with God."
As destruction has taught us about empathy in real-life, how can we take theses lesson and integrate them into our schooling systems? Pope Francis thus explains the real purpose of environmental education, which can be incorporated into SEL, is to not teach facts, but an approach to question one's own practices and meaning-making. He urges educators to encourage "ecological ethics" in developing "ecological citizenship." Pope Francis gives examples of small, but essential practices that we could all learn from this form of education"…such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or carpooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. "This could be such a profound way of "cultivating sound virtues" where people will be empowered to"..make a selfless ecological commitment".
Social Emotional Learning Skills
Perhaps the most widely referenced framework for Social Emotional Learning comes from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The CASEL model includes 5 broad competency areas and associated skills:
Self-Awareness - The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose. Such as:
Integrating personal and social identities
Identifying personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
Identifying one’s emotions
Demonstrating honesty and integrity
Linking feelings, values, and thoughts
Examining prejudices and biases
Having a growth mindset
Developing interests and a sense of purpose
Self-Management - The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals. Such as:
Managing one’s emotions
Identifying and using stress-management strategies
Exhibiting self-discipline and self-motivation
Setting personal and collective goals
Using planning and organizational skills
Showing the courage to take initiative
Demonstrating personal and collective agency
Social Awareness - The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, & contexts. This includes the capacities to feel compassion for others, understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. Such as:
Taking others’ perspectives
Recognizing strengths in others
Demonstrating empathy and compassion
Showing concern for the feelings of others
Understanding and expressing gratitude
Identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones
Recognizing situational demands and opportunities
Understanding the influences of organizations/systems on behavior
Relationship Skills - The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed. Such as:
Developing positive relationships
Demonstrating cultural competency
Practicing teamwork and collaborative problem-solving
Resolving conflicts constructively
Resisting negative social pressure
Showing leadership in groups
Seeking or offering support and help when needed
Standing up for the rights of others
Responsible Decision-making - The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being. Such as:
Demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness
Identifying solutions for personal and social problems
Learning to make a reasoned judgment after analyzing information, data, facts
Anticipating and evaluating the consequences of one’s actions
Recognizing how critical thinking skills are useful both inside & outside of school
Reflecting on one’s role to promote personal, family, and community well-being
Evaluating personal, interpersonal, community, and institutional impacts
Harvard School of Education’s EASEL Lab SEL Taxonomy Project analyzed dozens of SEL frameworks to identify the main themes, which they classify into six main domains of SEL:
Their Explore SEL tool (http://exploresel.gse.harvard.edu/) allows visitors to browse various models of SEL and compare frameworks to see how different SEL competencies and skills are prioritized in different ways across models, helping educators identify models that best fit their learning goals.
Mindfulness and Meditative Practices
Richard Davidson’s work includes research on the neural bases of emotion and methods and interventions to promote human flourishing. His research most salient to Mission 4.7 includes work on mindfulness and other meditation practices for improving attention and process-specific learning; the prospects of mind-training for American education; and mindfulness interventions to promote well-being for teachers and pro-social behavior and self-regulatory skills for school children.
Early work included explorations of neural asymmetries corresponding to stimuli processing in children, depression, and cross-cultural differences. He has also conducted various studies with implications for the lateralization of emotional behavior. One study suggested that right-sided prefrontal asymmetry could predict vulnerability towards restrained eating. Davidson has written on the importance of valence as a key feature for understanding the structure of emotion, and defined ‘affective style’ as the neural network of associations which mediate experiences of emotions, thus spearheading the discipline of affective neuroscience.
Davidson has long been interested in meditation, attention, and the transformation of consciousness through self-regulation and other means. An early co-authored study compared the effects of meditation versus exercise on anxiety, finding that exercisers experienced less somatic anxiety and more cognitive anxiety than meditators. One co-authored paper suggested that voluntary smiling could produce some of the same physiological changes induced by involuntary smiling. Another investigated manipulating affect (negatively and positively) through the presentation of visual materials. Plasticity and the experience of emotion have been areas of inquiry for Davidson and colleagues across the years, including the social influences on neuroplasticity. He has been involved in the study of pain, and specifically the manipulation of the experience of pain, including studies that suggest that perceived ‘control’ modulates the neural responses to pain. Another co-authored paper investigates the neurobiological impact of early childhood adversity. Davidson has also contributed to studies on the possibility of identifying neurophenotypes for asthma. Davidson has also collaborated on papers on the neural correlates of well-being and the relationship between well-being and affective style. He has collaborated with scientists and scholars and practitioners of Buddhism to investigate Buddhist and psychological perspectives on emotions and well-being, and happiness and neuroplasticity.
Davidson has conducted extensive research on meditation, its neural correlates, and its short and long-term impacts. One paper investigated the neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditators. A co-authored paper concluded that mental training could improve control over the distribution of limited brain resources, another suggesting finding that mental training specifically enhances ‘attentional stability.’ Davidson has studied the regulatory effects of expert-level compassion meditation on the neural circuitry associated with emotion, in addition to the effects of compassion training on altruism and neural responses to suffering. One co-authored paper suggests that long-term meditation might mitigate stress reactivity and decrease chronic inflammation. Davidson has argued that meditations designed to enhance specific core cognitive processes may specifically promote process-specific learning. One review of meta-analyses suggested that mindfulness-based interventions demonstrated better outcomes compared to passive controls, but these effects were smaller and less significant than those from active controls. Davidson has written on mind training’s prospects for American education, and participated in studies investigating the possible use of mindfulness for mitigating teacher burnout and stress and a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum for promoting pro-social behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children. Another co-authored study connected mindfulness training to a reduction in PTSD symptoms and improvements in stress-related health outcomes for police officers. Davidson has worked on testing smartphone meditation applications for improving well-being outcomes, and the neural correlates of improving empathic accuracy through video games.
Davidson has also studied behavioral inhibition in children and its relationship to parental personality and behavior. Temper tantrums were the feature of several studies, including tantrum timelines, post tantrum parental affiliations, and context inappropriate anger. He has studied the biological underpinnings of asthma through neuroimaging,
The final portion of Davidson’s work we will mention include his contributions to the study of depression and its neural correlates, and a process-based approach for research, diagnosis, and treatments. He has also written on the viability of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy for preventing depressive relapse.
21st Century Skills
21st Century education skills and the roadmap to attain them
To meet SDG4.7’s transformative education goals, it is important to understand the larger goals of education as defined by 21st Century Skills. What are these skills and will students be able to do with these skills?
21st Century competencies as defined by Russell (2016) are as follows-
Interpersonal, including communication, collaboration, responsibility, and conflict resolution.
Intrapersonal, including flexibility, initiative, appreciation for diversity, and the ability to reflect on one’s own learning.
Cognitive, including critical thinking, information literacy, reasoning and argumentation, and innovation.
The United States Department of Education (2002) specifies that learning skills required a part of the 21st Century skills as:
Information and communication skills
Information and media literacy skills: Analyzing, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating and creating information in a variety of forms and media. Understanding the role of media in society.
Communication skills: Understanding, managing and creating effective oral, written and multimedia communication in a variety of forms and contexts.
Thinking and problem-solving skills
Critical thinking and systems thinking: Exercising sound reasoning in understanding and making complex choices, understanding the interconnections among systems.
Problem identification, formulation and solution: Ability to frame, analyze and solve problems.
Creativity and intellectual curiosity: Developing, implementing and communicating new ideas to others, staying open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives.
Interpersonal and self-directional skills
Interpersonal and collaborative skills: Demonstrating teamwork and leadership; adapting to varied roles and responsibilities; working productively with others; exercising empathy; respecting diverse perspectives.
Self direction: Monitoring one’s own understanding and learning needs, locating appropriate resources, transferring learning from one domain to another.
Accountability and adaptability: Exercising personal responsibility and flexibility in personal, workplace and community contexts; setting and meeting high standards and goals for oneself and others; tolerating ambiguity.
Social responsibility: Acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind; demonstrating ethical behavior in personal, workplace and community contexts.
These skills and competencies are by the United States Department of Education (2002) are aligned to SDG4.7, specifically to Global Citizenship. As it details out the 21st Century Content as:
Using 21st century skills to understand and address global issues.
Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts.
Promoting the study of non-English language as a tool for understanding other nations and cultures.
Financial, economic and business literacy
Knowing how to make appropriate personal economic choices.
Understanding the role of economy and the role of business in the economy.
Applying appropriate 21st century skills to function as a productive contributor within an organizational setting.
Integrating oneself within and adapting continually to our nation’s evolving economic and business environment.
Being an informed citizen to participate effectively in government.
Exercising the rights and obligations of citizenship at local, state, national and global levels.
Understanding the local and global implications of civic decisions.
Applying 21st century skills to make intelligent choices as a citizen
The “new normal” in education as defined by the OECD
Many ideas of active citizenship are embedded in the “new normal” in education as defined by OECD, 2019). 21st Century education as defined by OECD (2019) exerts that educational systems are a part of the larger ecosystem. It acknowledges that students have a non-linear progression, specifically that, students are on their own path of discovery and that their baselines are different, and they are learning from various sources acquiring various skills and knowledge along the way.
The key competencies as defined by OECD (2019) for 21st century education are as follows-
Use tools interactively (e.g. language, technology)
‒ The ability to use language, symbols and text interactively
‒ The ability to use knowledge and information interactively
‒ The ability to use technology interactively
Interact in heterogeneous groups
‒ The ability to relate well to others
‒ The ability to cooperate
‒ The ability to manage and resolve conflicts
‒ The ability to act within the “big picture”
‒ The ability to form and conduct life plans and personal project
‒ The ability to assert rights, interests, limits and needs.
According to OECD (2019), “OECD Learning Compass 2030” provides system wide thinking to enable achieving these competencies. This compass has seven elements-
Student agency/ co-agency
Attitudes and values
Green skills for transformation are in the context of contributing to the 1.5 Degree Centigrade target which involves transformative changes at the personal, political and practical aspects, keeping beliefs, values, worldviews and paradigms interacting with systems and structures to influence behaviors and technical responses.
Kwauk and Casey (2021) categorize the green skills into three buckets.
Skills for Green Jobs: These are the skills that are required for green jobs of the future. The jobs are in sectors that are low on carbon emission and promote green economy. They are, as the authors, call them “instrumental skills” that are job focused. These jobs are essential for the functioning of a green economy (Vona, et al. 2015).
Green life skills: These skills are cross-cutting skills that cross- cuts SEL, cognitive and are skills that are adaptive and transformative.
Green skills for transformation: These skills have a post-modern perspective with more of rights and justice perspective. These skills have transformative capabilities.
The authors state that this list is not an exclusive list, but the idea here is to present some skills that hint at the categories of skills that fall under each bucket. These skills should be considered an essential input that will be matched by knowledge and attitudes and behavior to lead to the desired competencies (Kwauk & Braga, 2017).
How does one translate these green skills into an actionable design? Kwauk and Casey (2021) propose five elements- Cognitive, Affective, Existential, and Empowered Action that translate green life skills into curricular resources. The theory of change as proposed by Kwauk and Olivia include gaining knowledge across subjects on the environment, have an empathic outlook, make it second nature to live those pro-environmental practices, have ownership of those practices in your communities, have an action oriented outlook to resolve those challenges.
Learn more with the below resources:
Talk on Transformative Education by Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka
Learning through Play
The Lego Foundation (2018) identifies playfulness to achieve 10 skills outlined by the World Economic Forum for the workplace in 2020. They are:
Complex problem solving
Coordinating with others
Judgment and decision making
The Lego Foundation defines the associated competencies as:
I look after other people
I work things out for myself
I care about other people
I am adaptable and inventive
I can be a part of the team
I make confident judgments
I come-up with new ideas
I get on well with others
I can solve complex problems.
Learn more with the below resources:
Re-imagining schools to support psychosocial well-being of teachers and students as a foundation for effective teaching and learning during COVID-19 and beyond
Harvard EASEL Lab’s Explore SEL tool available online at: Explore SEL
Delhi’s Happiness Class- Delhi Govt's 'Happiness Classes' Are About Smiles, Claps, Empathy and Much More
Environmental & Climate Justice
The pandemic has laid bare the ways that inequities across socioeconomic, racial, and health lines intersect with climate and environmental issues to inequitably impact human lives. Stapleton (2018) argues that climate change must be framed as the most urgent social justice issue we face, and that climate change is interlinked with questions of power, equity, and justice. Kwauk and Olivia (2021)’s article explains that the green new learning agenda needs to go beyond climate education and action, but looks at the intersectional issues of social justice, equity, gender, economic and social marginalization in-order to highlight the cross-linkages with climate justice issues and the relevant action needed. They explain that science and technological solutions alone, without addressing the social inequities that must be addressed, will not bring transformative change in the anthropocene that we are in. Therefore, these inter-linkages have to be recognized and brought into education as connected issues.
Kwauk and Olivia (2021) also raise an important topic - gender-blind focus on competencies is seriously flawed. This also undermines a lot of existing literature on eco-feminism which has created a lot of activism in communities worldwide. The authors also place special emphasis on marginalized communities like persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, LGBTQI+ people, minorities and refugees along with displaced peoples. Therefore place-based and people centric approaches need to be adopted to translate these green skills in schools and communities.
Norat (2020) defines the purposes of eco-pedagogy as one that drives eco-consciousness, sustainable culture and solidarity consciousness. The author defines solidarity as the ethics of compassion and care and planetary citizenship. Therefore eco-pedagogy encourages a holistic vision of education which includes-
An inquiry stand
Development of human potential
Learning as a transforming process
The construction of shared meaning through dialogue and the collective experience.
Norat (2020) discusses the methodological approaches that should be the foundations of a holistic approach to learning.
Learn more with the below resources:
According to Global Change (2009) a climate-literate person:
understands the essential principles of the Earth’s climate system,
knows how to assess scientifically credible information about climate,
communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way, and is able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate.
Under the title “ An audacious yet achievable goal: Climate action projects in every school by 2025” . Kwauk and Winthrop (2021) gave an example of US students being able to “…map and monitory local environmental challenges, analyze local practices, policies, and laws that perpetuate or enable these challenges, and design and implement or advocate for a sustainability plan that addresses the root cause(s)."
Norat (2020) defines the educational competencies for Education for Sustainability as the following-
Ability to see connections
Critical awareness of values and ethical principles
Implementation of sustainable strategies and actions
Ability to manage in conditions of change and uncertainty
Creative solution to problems
Feeling a strong connection and deep appreciation for the environment
Learn more with the below resources: