November 2010


Thinking Sustainability

Nadha Vikitsreth

Systainability Asia and AtKisson Group

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was TEN’s topic on Wednesday, 8 November 2010 when Nadha Vikitsrethfrom Systainability Asia and AtKisson Group, led us into the growing field of sustainability education in classrooms around the world.

Beginning her talk on a very sobering theme, Khun Nadha commented on how more and more, we are being confronted daily by global challenges whether it is poverty, starvation or ever-looming threats of climate change.

Something, she continued, needs to be done in reply, in particular with the young to encourage them to think about environmental challenges and sustainability, which she defined as, ‘living a quality life in such a way that people in the next generations can enjoy the same privilege.’

Nadha then described the Compass framework and how Compass Education helps to deepen understanding of environmental issues by making current concerns and hot topics relevant, meaningful, as well as being a door to further inquiry by students.

The core aim of the Compass Education program is to help students examine and come to understand key questions and concepts centred around who we are; where we are in place and time; how we express ourselves; how the world works; how we organize ourselves; and finally how we can go about sharing the planet.

To do this in a concrete and easy to approach, adapt and adopt student-centred approach, the compass and its four major points are employed to represent four key concepts.

The North represents Nature and the goal to be both environmentally healthy and responsible.

Offering a concrete idea, Nadha suggested one related ‘North question’ would be whether it is possible for humans to be friends with other creatures, such as trees and animals, and how would it benefit them and us.

Moving, East, the Economy becomes the focus with the underlying idea or need to be economically responsible and viable with concrete questions aimed at students and their parents’ livelihood.

Society is in the South reflected in social responsibility and involvement and involved. Finally, the West point towards Wellbeing and includes questions related to health and happiness.

Nadha then dealt with how these four compass points can be effectively integrated into sustainability education in classroom teaching, curriculums and an entire school’s operations and management.

An extremely interesting topic and one every student, regardless of age could benefit from, Nadha explained how the Atkinson Groups program encourages finding answers to concrete sustainability challenges that, in turn, help students to develop the new skills and values they will need to make informed decisions and to think holistically, critically and reflectively about the world around them.

For any school or educator interested in sustainability education, contact: Systainability Asia or the Atkisson Group at or or call Nadha on 02 513 5063 to find answers to these important questions…

What is Sustainability Education (referred to by UNESCO as Education for Sustainable Development or ESD) and why is it important for mainstream education?

How can it be integrated into existing curriculum such as IB or AP in an interdisciplinary way and how does it enhance teaching and learning outcomes?

What are some effective tools teachers can use to bring sustainability into the classroom or school?

[widgets_on_pages id=”Inner-Page”]