center for ecoliteracy - Smart by Nature

The Center for Ecoliteracy has developed a framework for schooling for sustainability, which we call Smart by Natureā„¢. Our book Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability features success stories, lessons learned, and "What You Can Do" suggestions for applying this framework.

The framework is based on four guiding principles:

Nature Is Our Teacher

To envision sustainable communities, we look to design principles evolved since the advent of life on Earth. We can shape human societies and institutions after the patterns found in sustainable ecosystems and learn from traditional societies that have thrived for centuries following these same patterns. Accepting nature as our teacher helps educators focus on basic ecological principles, apply systems thinking, and practice solving for pattern, and support healthy living.

Sustainability Is a Community Practice

The sustainability of a community depends on the health and inclusiveness of the network of relationships within it. Successful schools act as "apprentice communities" for learning the art of living in an interdependent world. Schools teach by how they act in the world, use resources, and relate to the larger communities of which they are a part.

The Real World Is the Optimal Learning Environment

Sustainability is best learned in the real world. Students experience nature's patterns and processes as they occur. They become engaged in actions that matter and participate with people where they live and work. They observe and try out skills needed by change agents, and discover that they can make a difference. School buildings and campuses provide opportunities to explore and demonstrate sustainable practices.

Sustainable Living Is Rooted in a Deep Knowledge of Place

Places known and loved deeply have the best chance to be protected and preserved, so that they will be cherished and cared for by future generations. Studying a place in depth helps create a sense of kinship. It allows students to see through the eyes of the people who call that place home and helps them imagine and contribute to locally based solutions.

Putting the Smart by Nature Principles into Practice
Michael K. Stone

Educational consequences of applying the Smart by Nature guiding principles.

Lessons Learned and What You Can Do
Michael K. Stone

Checklists from "Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability."

center for ecoliteracy - systems thinking

Ecological understanding requires shifting to a new way of thinking.

Read More

Type Titlesort icon Description
Essay Lessons Learned and What You Can Do

Checklists from "Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability."

Essay Ecological Principles

Creating communities that are compatible with nature's processes for sustaining life requires basic ecological knowledge.

Essay A Sense of Wonder

David W. Orr eloquently celebrates the reconnection of children with their habitats and communities.

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