2017 Newsletter

The US Partnership continues its work on education and actions for sustainable development with its partner organizations.

Update: Beyond Doom and Gloom

We are rolling out our Beyond Doom & Gloom video as widely as possible to help spread the message that, while the climate change news can feel frustrating and disempowering to many, there is still a lot that we can do.

This video has been developed by two national networks of the US Partnership, the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC) & the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS)

See the video here 

Update: Civic Engagement

The US partnership is working with colleges, universities and organizations around the country to educate policymakers about the negative impacts of proposed cuts to environmental services in the federal budget proposal. Cuts to the EPA, DOE, and NOAA, along with the removal of several important programs (like EnergySTAR) will be extremely harmful to environmental education services. Additional cuts to education threaten important research and access to higher education for low-income students. 


DANS continues to work to integrate sustainability into over 45 academic disciplines and to bring the unique perspectives and contributions of each discipline into a more interdisciplinary and transdiciplinary sustainability education effort. The US partnership is working to support several of these efforts:

Sustainability in Job Descriptions and Performance Reviews: HEASC is heading an effort to call upon higher education administrators to infuse sustainability principles and practices into job descriptions and performance evaluations in order to promote sustainability within campus operations.

Clean Energy Education: DANS and HEASC are working to share facts about the urgent need for cleaner energies, more energy efficiency, better energy policies and less wasteful and polluting behaviors within both introductory and advanced coursework.

Call to Action for Academic Librarians and Faculty: DANS is working with librarians to call on faculty to showcase student sustainability projects and research.


The US Partnership is also working with HEASC and its member associations on the following projects:

Beyond Doom and Gloom: Engage in Solutions to Climate Change is part of the U.S. Partnership’s Climate Fixes initiative, focused on involving students who may be particularly discouraged about climate change in important civic engagement solutions.  Beyond Doom and Gloom uses expert, easy-to-use materials that can be used in any course and campus activities. Visit the students’ page (including a motivating two minute video), the educators’ page, and/or the webinar to see how you can be part of reducing doom and gloom and share opportunities for progress.

Sulitest sustainability literacy test is an easy to use, on-line, multiple choice test that can help leaders, decision-makers, and other users better understand important global challenges and the impact that their decisions and actions have on sustainability. Sulitest is a recognized tool for measuring and monitoring progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals., and it currently has over 600 participating universities and corporations in 57 countries. It is both a learning activity and an assessment tool.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a self-reporting platform meant to help colleges and universities at every stage of the sustainability process track and measure their progress.

The US Partnership is also working to promote equity and understanding among peoples of different backgrounds through these programs:

Living room conversations: host a respectful, civil conversation about important issues facing the world today

This internet platform provides an open source, structured format for hosting trans-partisan discussions with people of varying views and backgrounds. Click here for more details on how to start your own discussions!

New Resources from HEASC

Primer: Sustainable Development Primer for Higher Education Presidents, Chancellors, Trustees, and Senior Leaders

Webinar: Best Practices in First Year Experiences in Sustainability


In addition to the higher education sector, the US partnership continues to collaborate for a more sustainable future in the following sectors, sharing the good resources of others, and participating in coalitions: K 12, Business, Communities, Youth, Faith, and International. See the resources pages for each of the sectors listed in the left-hand menu.



Past Newsletter


UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development 

The US Partnership President, Dr. Debra Rowe, and Executive Committee member, Peter Adriance, attended and highlighted the educational sustainability efforts that have been made in the U.S. over the past decade and learning from the work in other countries.  The conference was from November 10-12, 2014 in Nagoya, Japan (


The items below highlight mostly activities related to the US Partnership and do not attempt to cover all the ESD initiatives occurring within the US.  Also see the Sector Teams and Partner Resources at




1.     Networks for Systemic Change

The US Partnership founded and has facilitated since 2005 the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS) (, an informal network of academic professional organizations working on sustainability curricula for all students; professional development for faculty and professional members; textbook revisions to include sustainability education; standards to reward prioritizing literacy about our sustainability challenges and engagement in solutions; and cross disciplinary projects on education for sustainability.  The network now includes over fifty academic associations and reaches over 500,000 educators.


The US Partnership was instrumental in starting the Higher Education Associations for Sustainability Consortium (HEASC) (, a network of higher education associations with a commitment to advancing sustainability within their constituencies and within the system of higher education itself.  This network includes the professional associations for college and university presidents, business officers, facilities directors, student life/activities and housing staff, procurement officers, environmental health and safety and recreation program planners, and others.  The network has created calls to action to: a) assess sustainability education and actions, b) partner with surrounding communities to create sustainability solutions, c) focus on civic engagement to decrease political polarization and to increase sustainability policies and practices, and d) include sustainability in performance reviews.


The Higher Education Sector of The US Partnership has also lent its support to the development and advancement of the following national initiatives:

·       The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) (, an association of colleges and universities, throughout the U.S. and Canada, working to create a sustainable future through training and educating future leaders, scholars, workers and professionals.

·       The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) (, a high-visibility effort to address global climate change by garnering pledges from over 650 presidents to measure, reduce and eliminate as quickly as possible greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.


2.     Civic Engagement for Key Sustainable Energy Plans

Campus and Course Conversations

This teaching and co-curricular activity engages students in civic engagement for sustainability energy policy. It’s easily integrated into a wide variety of courses or into campus activities. It emphasizes civil discourse skills across political and cultural perspectives and focuses on the topic of sustainable energy (i.e. energy efficiency and renewable energies).  The Course Conversations activity is applicable to all academic disciplines, is geared for both undergraduate and graduate students, and can be assigned in both large and small classes. Students act as co-hosts to the conversation. Conversations begin by understanding ground rules for civil discourse before the actual topic is discussed. Conversations can result in civic engagement opportunities where students communicate to decision makers their findings/conclusions regarding the benefits/potentials of energy efficiency and renewable energies. Course Conversations is adapted from Living Room Conversations, which has been featured at Harvard. For Course Conversations teaching tools and resources see the following link:


3.     Sustainability Literacy Test

The “Sustainability Literacy Test” ( is a tool for Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to utilize to assess and verify the sustainability literacy of their students either when they graduate, or during their education in a pre/post test context. It assesses the minimum level knowledge in economic, social and environmental responsibility for higher education students, applicable to any kind of HEI and in any country, studying at any level course (Bachelors, Masters, MBAs, PhD). The Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability and the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Network have been Advisory Committee members, and are committed to contributing to the next version of the test, encouraging the emphasis to be on minimum level knowledge within the context of  proactive problem solving and implementing of sustainability solutions.


4.     Sustainability Resources for Faculty (sample from a larger list)

A.    A two-volume encyclopedia containing more than 130 signed entries, Achieving Sustainability covers economic and environmental ideas, as well as governance, demographic, and socio-cultural aspects of the concept. This new encyclopedia edited by US Partnership President, Dr. Debra Rowe, US Partnership Board Member, Susan Gentile and US Partnership Fellow Terry Link, has more than 130 lengthy essays on key elements of sustainability written by a global team of scholars and practitioners. Resources are included to help interested citizens go deeper, get connected to organizations involved in moving sustainability beyond vision into action. Published by Macmillan and available in print or e-book versions. For more info see here

B.    Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL) was created by a selected group of thirteen academic associations and disciplinary societies* working together via a US Department of Education grant to:

1.     increase students' learning in undergraduate courses, and

2.     better prepare students for the 21st-century "Big Questions" that relate to real-world challenges such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change.

The website includes hundreds of downloadable teaching activities, a beginner’s page for facultyKey Components of Quality Assignments, and key competencies and self-reflection tools to empower students.  The Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability was one of the three core partners for this grant.


  1. InTeGrate: Interdisciplinary Teaching about the Earth for a Sustainable Future: ( a 5-year STEP Center grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to increase Earth literacy of all undergraduate students, as well as the number of graduates who are prepared to bring an understanding of the Earth to bear on the resource and environmental issues faced by our society today and in the future. InTeGrate supports teaching in the context of societal issues across the undergraduate curriculum. The goal is to develop a citizenry and workforce that can address environmental and resource issues facing our society. Resource examples include: funding for multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional teams to develop curricular resources and to implement curricular reform, a module on “Climate of Change: Interactions and Feedbacks between Water, Air, and Ice”, and workshops on topics such as teaching about risk and resilience, diversity, and other topics. The project is led by the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College ( which has an enormous range and quantity of resources for educators on its website. While not a US Partnership initiative, we wanted to highlight it as a resource.


D.    Sustainability Education and Economic Development Initiative

Sustainability Education and Economic Development Initiative or (SEED) ( is an initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges, with more than 480 presidents as members, the SEED Initiative  has a resource center covering standards, curricular materials, community partnership models, career pathways information, and college success stories about solar, wind, energy efficiency, green building, sustainable agriculture, transportation, and sustainability..  It also has a Genome project to help colleges assess and improve their efforts. The newest focus is on higher education’s role to help build resilient communities.  The President of the US Partnership has been on staff at AACC, running the Technical Advisory Committees for the resources ( , co-authoring a toolkit on how community colleges can create state and local energy policies ( and  creating and facilitating the Community of Action to Grow Green Jobs Through Policy and Civic Engagement (


  1. National Council for Science and the Environment

On campuses across the country, new norms are emerging, often driven by student interest.  The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) ( has published surveys on the growth of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability academic programs in the US, showing over 2700 new educational courses/programs on campuses related to sustainability.  NCSE is also the co-creator of networks for environmental deans, holds an annual conference focused on sustainability in Washington, DC, and helped create resources for teaching about the earth and climate change (CAMEL).  David Blockstein, a founder of the US Partnership and member of the Executive Leadership, has spearheaded these efforts at NCSE.




1.     Standards, Frameworks and Plans

  1. With input from K-12 educators in public, private and pre-service fields nationally, The US Partnership’s K-12 and Teacher Education Sector developed a set of National Education for Sustainability K-12 Standards. The intent of these standards is to define what K-12 students should know and be able to do to be “sustainability literate.” To view these standards, visit the U.S. Partnerships website at (


  1. National standards - the Next Generation Science Standards also include quite a bit about sustainability, thanks to the efforts of many sustainability champions.


  1. Education frameworks in many states include standards that reflect attention to education for sustainability standards (Efs), and a few states have established explicit sustainability standards, such as Kentucky, Maryland, Vermont, and Washington. (Also, the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Guidelines for Excellence informs creation of education standards related to EfS.)


  1. Center for Green Schools of the U.S. Green Building Council and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released A National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability. An USP Board member, Sue Gentile, was one of the overarching editors.


E.    Infusing Green Standards into States’ Career Clusters - The intent of this project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education and intended for the State Directors of Career and Technical Education, was to integrate green and sustainability knowledge and skills statements into the standards for career clusters, recognized nationally. Technical working groups were identified for the following career clusters:

a.     Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

b.     Architecture and Construction

c.     Information Technology

d.     Manufacturing

e.     Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

f.      Transportation, Distribution and Logistics

Standards were also created that apply to all career clusters.  See the knowledge and skills statements at The Subject Matter Experts across these groups were Debra Rowe, President of the US Partnership and Sue Gentile, US Partnership Board member and part of the K-12 and Teacher Education sector.


2.     Recognition

In addition schools are recognized for components of EfS through the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program.  Board members of the US Partnership were part of the core group (facilitated by Jim Elder at the Campaign for Environmental Literacy ( advocating for Green Ribbon Schools.


3.     Colleges of Teacher Education Special Interest Group

The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education has created, with the US Partnership’s encouragement, a special interest group in sustainability education.



The US Partnership’s Community Sector has developed a “sustainable community” resource library for communities, available on the US Partnerships website (



The Business Sector has developed a list of resources/organizations and has issued the following statement encouraging more ESD. 

“To meet the immense challenges of the present and the future, it is important that all undergraduate and graduate college students learn about our environmental and social sustainability challenges and be provided with learning opportunities that engage them in solutions to these challenges. We live in a unique time, where the decisions of this generation may very well dictate the health of the planet for this and future generations. The impacts of these decisions will affect the quality of life across the globe. All students need to learn, through an interdisciplinary approach, not only the specifics of our sustainability challenges and the possible solutions, but also the interpersonal skills, the systems thinking skills, and the change agent skills to effectively help to create a more sustainable future. We are looking for these sustainability educated students as future business people, as employees, as consumers, innovators, government leaders and investors. We would like to see this be a requirement for all students.”



The Faith Sector Team has compiled resources on the organizations and initiatives working on ESD within the faith community at



Additional Highlights

Progress for Clean Energy

While the United States does not yet have a formal national energy plan for a sustainable future or a national education for sustainable development plan, there has been much progress, including but not limited to new efficiency standards for appliances and motor vehicles, and recently released reduced greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants.  USP members have participated with multiple federal agencies to assist with the creation of ESD materials, including national Energy Literacy and Climate Literacy networks and initiatives.  See and for two examples in the energy arena.


ecoAmerica: MomentUs Program

The MomentUs program, which launched in January 2013, is a strategic organizing and communications initiative designed to build a game-changing increase in personal and institutional support for climate change solutions by using research and branded materials to engage the breadth of the American public in climate change solutions. The US Partnership is an active thought leader for this initiative.

[1] “Sustainable Development” has been defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (Brundtland Commission, 1987). “Education for Sustainable Development” encompasses all forms of learning – formal and informal – that help achieve the “triple bottom line” of healthy environments, thriving economies, and just societies.



Previous Newsletters – Highlights from 2012-2013



Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL)

We are happy to announce that Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL) has been created.  (SISL) was created by a selected group of thirteen academic associations and disciplinary societies working together to:

1.     increase students' learning in undergraduate courses, and

2.     better prepare students for the 21st-century "Big Questions" that relate to real-world challenges such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change.

The website includes hundreds of downloadable teaching activities, a beginner’s page for facultyKey Components of Quality Assignments, and key competencies and self-reflection tools to empower students.  The Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability was one of the three core partners for this grant.

A convocation at the National Academy of Sciences will be held on September 19 & 20, 2013 to widen the circle of involved societies beyond STEM and to plan for the long-term continuation of this work.


The US Partnership is also working on the following projects:

  1. Inserting sustainability into textbooks
  2. Creating joint disciplinary support  of educating for a sustainable future




US Dept of Education moves forward on Green Ribbon SchoolsThe aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to strive for 21st century excellence, by highlighting exemplary practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. Reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways



In November 2013  a discussion over the topicHow can religions work together to protect the planet?” will be held. Bhakti Larry Hough of Radio Baha'i (WLGI) will speak to Peter Adriance, representative for sustainable development at the U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs, and to Teresa Eichel, Executive Director of the Connecticut-based Interreligious Eco-Justice Network. Listen by clicking here.



US Government and Sustainability Education HIGHLIGHTS (not US Partnerhsip work)

  • The US Department of Energy is designing an Energy 101 course to improve energy literacy in the US. You can also find tips to save energy and reduce energy bills at the Department’s Energy Saver site.


  • Energy Star, which is an EPA voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency, has an expansive set of resources that can be found here.


  • The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has a growing list of data sources and education tools for all ages that describes the fundamentals of renewable energy that can be found here.


  • There are new federal standards for science education called Next Generation Science Standards. This has been completed through a state-led process managed by Achieve, new K–12 science standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The NGSS is based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.



Youth and Young Adults Engaging to Improve Society Highlights

The youth movement has been very active in their efforts to protect the environment and reduce economic inequities.  Some examples follow:


  • is an organization that is building a global climate movement to get global CO2 atmospheric levels below 350ppm in order to preserve a livable planet . Recently has been involved in 2012 in Climate Impacts Day.


  • Powershift is also an organization that empowers youth in their globally active movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to use more efficient and renewable energy.


  • The Occupy Movement continues to highlight social equity issues in the US and around the world.  Despite at times negative media coverage, the movement has highlighter important issues as it relates to the environment and our globalized economy. These issues can be found here, here, and here










2011 Newsletter


In this issue, find updates on the following:

  • Higher Ed Sector
  • K-12 Sector 
  • Community Sector
  • Youth Action Team
  • Corporate Sector

Download Newsletter by clicking on title above or below.



In this issue, find updates on the following:

  • Higher Ed Sector
  • K-12 Sector 
  • Community Sector
  • Youth Action Team
  • USP Website

Download Newsletter by clicking on title above or below.

DESD Quarterly Highlights

Get information on the following:

  • Issues Around the World
  • Upcoming Events
  • Resources 

Download the Quarterly Update by clicking on the title above or below.

Summer 2008 Newsletter

In this issue, find updates on the following:

  • Higher Ed Sector
  • K-12 Sector 
  • Community Sector
  • Youth Action Team
  • USP Website

Download Newsletter by clicking on title above or below.