For almost two decades, the Berkeley-based Center for Ecoliteracy has supported and advanced education for sustainable living. The Center's work is based on the understanding that guidance for living abundantly on a finite planet lies, literally, under our feet and all around us—in living soil, food webs and water cycles, energy from the sun, and everywhere that nature reveals her ways. As Center cofounder Fritjof Capra has said, "We do not need to invent sustainable human communities from scratch. We can model them after nature’s ecosystems."
Here are four resources that honor nature as our ultimate teacher:
Oak Woodland Lesson
When scientists begin to study a particular ecosystem, they often divide it into sections or quadrants, then observe and record what they find in each individual quadrant. Then they piece together the information and come to some generalizations about the ecosystem.
In this Smart by Nature lesson, students will become familiar with the oak woodland ecosystem, using 15 panels of a mural by Ane Carla Rovetta to dive into deeper discovery and understanding.
EXPLORE: Oak Woodland Lesson
Building Resilience at Home Lesson
Resilience is the ability to rebound or bounce back after gritty, challenging circumstances. What might resilience mean to your students? In this lesson (grades 9 through 12), students will examine conditions from their personal lives to large-scale ecosystems, and explore why some people and environments are better able to tolerate and rebuild from disturbances or threatening situations.
EXPLORE: Building Resilience at Home Lesson
Creating Gardens of Goodness
In collaboration with Annie’s Foods, the Center for Ecoliteracy has created an easy-to-follow, how-to manual on five different kinds of children’s gardens. From windowsill gardens to greenhouses, these gardens not only produce a bounty of vegetables, but they also build community and slow down life so we can smell the carrots.
EXPLORE: Creating Gardens of Goodness
Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms
Since creating its first school garden, Life Lab, an education nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, CA, wholeheartedly believes school gardens should be “owned and operated by students," and are are wonderful outdoor learning environments that lend children of all ages a sense of season, place, and belonging.
This guidebook capitalizes on Life Lab’s 30 years of on-the-ground experience, with spotlights on individual school gardens across the country, plus guidance questions for administrators and teachers, such as Why should my school consider having a school garden? and How do I get my community involved?
EXPLORE: Getting Started Guidebook
Want more Center for Ecoliteracy resources?
You’ll find an impressive collection of books, lessons, films, and downloadable guides and essays by foodies Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, sustainability pioneers David Orr and Joanna Macy, plus Center for Ecoliteracy staff writers and experts.
NEW! Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence
Ecoliterate shows how educators are awakening knowledge and empathy, and empowering youth to make a positive difference in the world, using real-world examples from the streets of Oakland, California to the hills of Spartanburg, South Carolina. Through these examples, the authors lay out five key practices of emotionally and socially engaged ecoliteracy.
All photos courtesy of Center for Ecoliteracy
The Center for Ecoliteracy supports and advances education for sustainable living. Based in Berkeley, California, the Center was established in 1995, and is best known for its work in school food reform and integrating sustainability into K–12 curricula. It offers books, educational materials, film guides, and studies, and conducts seminars, and presentations to schools and school districts.