Building a Sustainable Future: Ecological Design in SchoolsReport as inadecuate

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Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, v23 n4 p14-16 Sum 2011

It is no surprise that many environmental education programs include outdoor experiences as a foundational part of their curriculum; after all, who better to teach ecological lessons than nature itself? In contrast, there are inherent challenges to teaching environmental education while restricted inside a classroom. The average student currently spends two-thirds of the year in classroom environments. Educators and former students themselves can easily visualize the standard school: a concrete box that contains multiple climate-controlled, rectangular classrooms, often devoid of natural elements such as plants, fresh air and sunlight. The sheer amount of time spent by youth in these built environments demands greater attention to their design. There are many ways to design schools and their surroundings to embody and teach ecological principles, both explicitly and implicitly. The construction of educational institutions is just as important as what is taught within them. The author emphasizes that integrating ecologically efficient technologies, developing outdoor learning spaces, and bringing the outside in are all strategies that can be employed to foster greater ecological awareness in students. Building a sustainable future literally begins with the foundation.

Descriptors: Environmental Education, Sustainable Development, Educational Facilities Design, Outdoor Education, Classroom Environment, Ecology, Futures (of Society), Lighting, Plants (Botany)

Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario. 1185 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M3C 3C6, Canada. e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Author: Trudeau, Miho



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