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William

William Thomas

Year of Award: 2012 Award State: Victoria Environment > Sustainability
To investigate sustainability education and sustainability practice with emphasis on water, waste, energy and biodiversity - Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Ireland
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Sustainability encompasses much more than just environmental programs. It includes the sustainability of culture, language and self. My Churchill travels through Scandinavia allowed me to experience sustainability in its many guises and I found this to be an incredibly enriching experience. 

Highlights and major lessons from each of the countries I visited were: 

Finland: The 7 step Eco-Schools/Green Flag program is a multi-nation sustainability initiative set up to be achievable by all schools that takes into account their settings and the needs of each individual school. The school programs that directly connected students with the natural environment were especially significant.

Iceland: The Sustainable Management and Activity Plan (SMAP) implementation that I saw was very effective way of delivering a school wide approach to sustainability education. It positively engages staff and allows for them to take full responsibility for the delivery, evaluation and reporting back on one aspect of the overall school plan. Their outside school programs have great significance for educating students in the field. 

Sweden: Very strong dimensions to Swedish sustainability education include their participation in the Green Flag Program, their Nature Schools and their use School Forests to make ESD valuable to the next generation. Their adoption of national standards and awards recognising the achievement of sustainable goals is also a strength as is their Global Schools Program.

Norway: The inclusion of students in creating a national database of environmental sampling is a wonderful program that connects students with their environment as well as real world researchers while giving them an insight into possible career opportunities. They are also contributing in a valuable way to their own society. Educational programs around industry important to the Norwegian economy such as salmon fishing are of great significance and bring traditional education into close contact with industry.

Denmark: The Schools @ University for Climate and Energy (SAUCE) is a great initiative and one that has applicability for Australia. The Energy & Water Science Centre of Copenhagen is a terrific resource for teaching these concepts and could be financed in select schools in Australian population centres to deliver enhanced sustainability education in these areas. Entrepreneurial Education is also a concept worth exploring in Australian education.

Ireland: the Green Plan instigated by Neil McCabe of the Dublin Fire Brigade has global applicability in both education and industry/business and its strength lies in the obligation that the savings made from the deployment of the first initiative be used to fund the next initiative.

Dissemination of my findings will be made through the Fellowship website, through a public speaking program that I have already embarked on, through educational media as well as mainstream media and appropriate press releases. Touring groups that I conduct for schools on their sustainability journeys will also be informed as will the many networks that I belong to and work with. I will be able to implement some initiatives in my own place of work and will suggest appropriate initiatives to education institutions that I engage with. I will continue lobbying and working with government to implement positive change in sustainability education. 

 

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