The Australian government seeks to equip all Australians with the knowledge and skills required to live sustainably through its National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability. The Plan outlines a national action framework with four primary strategies to prioritize and address the needs of education for sustainability. Additional regional and state legislation sets goals for environmental education and education for sustainability throughout the country. For example, the Queensland Environmentally Sustainable Schools Initiative seeks to establish a network of environmentally sustainable schools that demonstrate curricula connections and environmental action based on sustainable development principles. Similarly, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians outlines strategies for improving educational outcomes for Australian youth and includes a section on creating active and informed citizens working toward improving natural and social environments.
Policy & Practice
In 2005, the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage developed a document entitled Educating for a Sustainable Future: A National Environmental Education Statement for Australian Schools. This statement provides a description of the nature and purpose of environmental education for sustainability through all years of schooling, including a vision and a framework for its implementation. It is intended for teachers, schools and their communities, education systems and developers of curriculum materials. It is also intended as a companion to existing State and Territory policies and programs and does not replace them. In 2009, Living Sustainably: The Australian Government's National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability, was launched. Its aim is to equip all Australians with the knowledge and skills required to live sustainably. The plan has been prepared in conjunction with the National Council on Education for Sustainability by the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
EE in K-12 Education
In 2010, the Sustainability Curriculum Framework was published. It describes what students may need to learn to live sustainably, and considers the most appropriate times and environments in which these learnings should occur. Environmental education initiatives also exist at the regional level. For example, the Queensland Environmentally Sustainable Schools Initiative establishes a network of environmentally sustainable schools that demonstrate curricula connections and environmental action based on ecological sustainable development principles. A website supports schools, their partners and the community in realizing a positive environmental vision for their schools.
The Australian Association for Environmental Education believes that education is central to achieving a sustainable future. The AAEE has three major roles: 1) promoting the most extensive and effective use of education to help people to live more sustainably, 2) supporting its members and others in the sector via professional development, and 3) building greater strength in local networks that facilitate collaboration and skill sharing. They accomplish this through providing professional resources for educators and advocate and lobby at the national and state levels.
This case study explores how zoos might redevelop their education strategies to address 21st century conservation priorities while incorporating current best practices in education.