Sustainability in the classroom: how?

'But you know, as a teacher I always try to keep myself pretty neutral, because it doesn't really matter what I think about it. I have to teach these kids something and it has to be the right thing.' - starting engineering teacher.'

There will always be students who are very bright or who happen to have read something about something you're not into at all, and then I find it difficult to answer questions about that. I am above the material of my subject, so if they have questions about that I can explain it to them, but when it comes to sustainability I find it difficult, because it is just so big. - starting chemistry teacher.'

'Students did not find sustainability at all as interesting or urgent a topic as the school strikes had made me think. They also did not translate sustainability issues at all into their own buying habits' - beginning biology teacher.'

These are comments from teachers who teach about sustainability. You may have experienced a similar situation and recognize yourself in these comments. Adwin Bosschaart, researcher at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, says that the challenge of teaching about sustainability lies in balancing between problem awareness and future perspective. At the moment, we are still too much stuck in a problem, while it is necessary to get students from a doom story to a do story. The future is not a fait accompli but something we can influence, through our own choices. Researcher Peter Duifhuis argues that complexity is a hallmark of sustainability issues. It is not necessary to understand an issue completely before you can have students engage with it. It requires the teacher to get students thinking. That requires breaking free from the idea that you have to be above the material in order to explain it well'

Looking for answers together

For students to look to the future with hope, we must rethink our educational goals and explore innovative didactic approaches. How do we inform students while avoiding pitfalls such as driving paralyzing fear? How do we teach about sustainability so that our students not only see problems but also develop a hopeful perspective? A perspective that shows that choices and actions matter and that the future is not a fait accompli. This conference will inspire you to motivate students for a hopeful future. You will take away fresh ideas, didactic possibilities and teaching materials around various sustainability topics that can be directly applied in your teaching. There will also be a focus on the psychological and emotional backgrounds that influence students' thinking and actions regarding sustainability.

Come to the 1st edition of the Conference on Sustainability Didactics and discover the power of sustainability didactics - join us on April 12, 2024.

Practical Information Conference

Date: April 12, 2024

Location: Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Heidelberglaan 15

For whom. Teachers, school leaders, TAs and deans in secondary education and teacher educators

Program: 2 keynote speakers, 2 rounds of 10 inspiration sessions each and a round of 10 workshops

More info


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