Earth Focus Academy

Purpose and Principles of EF Sustainability Courses and “Sustainability-pedia”

Why more courses and another website? This proposal aims to fill a gap in the material available to support education and public information in relation to sustainability and a number of related global issues and, thereby, to help stimulate appropriate responses by individuals (and hence governments) at local and global levels.

While much information and many education materials are available on ‘sustainable development’ (SD) and many of the individual issues (e.g. climate change, food crisis, etc.), the understanding of the issues, the underlying causes, the reasons for the lack of progress at national and global levels, and the possibilities for positive action at the local level, remains limited among young people and within the general public at large even in ‘developed’ countries.

Little or nothing is readily available to many population groups on the overall, big picture, how we got to where we are, the underlying causal links among many of the “crises”, the pros and cons of the various competing solutions on offer,1 and the choices we each must make.  It is proposed to fill this critical gap by producing and publishing structured information and courses on those aspects tailored for children, high-school students and ‘young’ adults, to enable them to understand the issues and make their own choices.

The courses and information materials aim to help users to increase their knowledge and understanding of the many, complex, inter-related issues related to sustainable development – and sustainability more broadly – so that they may become informed global citizens active in their own communities.

 

Principles

Material for 3 distinct audiences: ‘games’ for young children; ‘basic knowledge’ for young adults; ‘advanced understanding’ for professionals.

Multi-lingual: to the extent possible, everything is in both English and French; material is also published in other languages when this can be arranged.

Intercultural: all material takes explicit account of cultural differences, where relevant; it does not favour any culture in particular.

Global, holistic vision: the information material and courses provide a global, holistic vision of sustainable development, highlighting the inter-connections among topics and issues, enabling users to gain an appreciation of the ‘big picture’.

Historical context: wherever relevant, the information material and courses concisely explain how we got to where we are, highlighting major milestones and turning points along the way.

Different perspectives; choices: when there are different, competing perspectives and proposals for ways forward on a particular topic, those differences are reflected, noting the sources and potential interests underlying those differences and the pros and cons of the different proposals, to enable users to make up their own minds and make their own
choices.

Ethical considerations: for each topic, the information and analysis provided includes the specific ethical dimensions and issues arising.

Dialogue and action: all webpages and courses encourage users to dialogue with each other on the information provided and issues raised, to take action within their own communities, and to exchange experiences with other members of the network so created.

Validation: all material is validated by topic-related review panels (including experts/representatives from different continents and cultures) prior to publication.

Regular, participative updating: all webpages and courses invite suggestions for improvements and these suggestions are regularly reviewed and the material updated as and when found appropriate.

Partnerships: the structure and contents of [the webpages and courses] are developed and up-dated by the Earth Focus Foundation in partnership with other organizations, networks and individual experts who subscribe to the aims and principles defined above and commit to [a] partnership agreement.

Editorial control: contributions and suggestions of content for the webpages and courses are accepted from all sources but the content published will be at the discretion of a General Editorial Board and specialist Review Panels for particular topics. The members of the Editorial Board and topic-related Review Panels are required to demonstrate that they have no direct or indirect connections with any entity that could have a financial interest in a particular perspective on the topic(s) of concern.

Authorship and acknowledgement: the identity of the original author(s) of each topic page on the website, and those of individuals who provide content suggestions that are accepted subsequently, are acknowledged on a meta-data page accessible via a ‘writers’ button/ikon on the relevant page.

References: all data presented will be from existing, published sources and textual material may also be quoted or adapted from such sources, with reference to the original source. On the website, reference lists are on a meta-data page accessible via a ‘sources’ button/ikon on the relevant page

Sponsorship: financial and other material contributions to the development and maintenance of the website, courses or content material are accepted from organizations and individuals who subscribe to the aims and principles defined above and have no direct or indirect connections with any entity that could have a financial interest in a particular perspective on the topic(s) of concern.