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Green Teaching: Fostering Sustainable Education

5 Strategies to Promote the Circular Economy in the Classroom

The Climate Emergency and the Need for a Systemic and Global Approach

The climate emergency and the necessity to adopt a systemic and global approach have taken a prominent role that concerns governments, institutions, and private sectors alike. This has shaped the international agenda for decades, highlighting the crucial roles that both the education system and sustainable education play as drivers of a global cultural and socioeconomic transformation process.

Education is the seed of a sustainable future and serves as a significant precursor to actions that will define future generations. It has the capacity to drive the necessary change.

Transitioning towards a circular economy model requires society to develop skills and experiences related to a culture of sustainable development that promotes environmental protection, including the conservation of primary resources. Addressing these issues is facilitated by directing efforts and programs towards a revaluation of environmental protection at all educational levels—from preschool to postgraduate. However, this remains a complex challenge.

According to IMCO, in Mexico, changes affecting educational evaluation policies and their sustainable orientation are hindered by insufficient investment compared to other countries in the region. In fact, according to the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which proposes allocating at least 4 to 6% of GDP to education to achieve global goals, including climate education, Mexico currently spends only 2.96% of its GDP on education.

Amidst global transformations and the urgent need for sustainable practices, the responsibility of education to instill forward-thinking approaches is undeniable. A study by the Mario Molina Center revealed that with proper implementation of environmental materials, dynamics, and information, 100% of teachers reported increased commitment and engagement from students in managing human actions that directly impact climate.

Moreover, the study found that 93% of students considered environmental care-related content interesting, and 90% felt they had gained more knowledge about the planet's climate and the consequences of climate change. The same percentage affirmed that this knowledge enabled them to understand specific actions to contribute to mitigating the issue.

Some key actions that educators can implement within their curriculum to promote environmental awareness include:

Establishing basic knowledge: Concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle are best instilled at a young age. Schools worldwide are integrating sustainability into their curricula to ensure students grasp the foundational principles of circularity from the outset.

Fostering critical thinking: Beyond mere knowledge, education nurtures analytical skills by presenting real-world challenges related to the depletion of non-renewable resources, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainability. Educators thereby cultivate a solution-oriented mindset, preparing students to devise innovative circular solutions in future roles.

Promoting interdisciplinary learning: The circular economy intersects strongly with environmental sciences, design, management, marketing, and business, among others. Universities are thus introducing interdisciplinary courses to provide students with a holistic view that enables them to understand the complexities and challenges of climate change.

Cultivating a sustainable culture: By understanding the implications of their choices, students become conscientious consumers. This makes it more likely for them to support sustainable brands, reduce waste, and advocate for circular practices within their communities.

Facilitating research and innovation: Higher education institutions and postgraduate units serve as research hubs capable of promoting sustainability and circularity-focused programs. These programs are crucial as they drive technological and methodological advancements, paving the way for practices that reinforce circularity across various sectors.

Guiding educational and formative processes at preschools, secondary, high school, vocational, and postgraduate education centers towards developing students' ecologically and economically circular culture, including values formation, behavioral norms for conserving natural resources, waste elimination culture, knowledge of recycled goods, and experience in their use, is undoubtedly a challenge. Institutions, educators, and students collectively hold the potential to drive substantial changes that will reflect in tomorrow's climate situation.


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