Woodward Academy leads the way with Sustainability Symposium
"Sustainability encompasses the greatest challenges our students will face in the 21st century. It is our responsibility to educate future leaders who have the skills and the confidence to thoughtfully address these challenges. Our Sustainability Symposium is one way we are empowering our educators to do this." Dr. Stuart Gulley
Educating students who think independently, creatively, and systematically about complex issues of sustainability is the primary responsibility of the "green" school. This requires developing teachers' abilities to foster these skills, which is a key strategic goal for sustainability at Woodward Academy.
For the past two years, Woodward has hosted 30 of its teachers for a day-long professional development event called the "Educating for Sustainability Symposium." In April 2013, Woodward will open this event to teachers, staff, and administrators from other schools for the first time.
“This event has become a focal point of our sustainability efforts at Woodward,” said sustainability coordinator Oliver Ferrari. “From the opening dinner to the last sessions, teachers and administrators are seeing how sustainability is so much richer than the ‘green stuff’ stereotype. They discover how they are already fostering sustainable mindsets and get ideas for new ways to further sustainability education in their classroom.”
Woodward President Dr. Stuart Gulley opens the symposium with an address to teachers and administrators at a kick-off meal featuring farm-to-table fare. President Gulley emphasizes the paramount importance of sustainability to the world and to Woodward Academy's mission.
The symposium envisions sustainability education with the following four pillars: global citizenship and the commons, school as a learning laboratory, cross-disciplinary curriculum, and sense of place. Through a variety of instructional formats, led by subject matter experts, faculty participants build a deeper understanding of these pillars of sustainability education and learn new tools to apply in their classrooms.
For the 2012 symposium, teachers were offered workshop tracks specifically for their grade level. For example, within "school as a learning laboratory," teachers of younger students worked in pairs to build their own outdoor-based lesson plans. Teachers of older students learned how The Westminster Schools integrated waste audits and energy analysis into the curriculum of an environmental science course. Multiple tracks allowed for intimate, highly participatory sessions.
Symposium participants have given positive feedback, motivating event organizers to develop new ways for teachers to engage with sustainability education and to open the symposium to teachers from other schools. If you are interested in participating in the Educating for Sustainability Symposium, please contact Amy Underwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.