Big Ideas of Sustainability

The Big Ideas of Sustainability - when we talk about sustainability, especially with young students, it is critical to break out important concepts and ideas to make the word come alive.  Below is a list of  big ideas we use to help frame curriculum, projects, and build student understanding. 

 Download the Beautiful Poster of Big Ideas of Sustainability and post in your office, classroom, or home!

  • Ability to make a difference: everyone has the ability to affect change or impact a system, community, self.
  • Change over time: all organisms/places/systems are constantly changing. 
  • Community: all communities involve nested economic, environmental, and social systems.  We need to understand the interconnections to come up with sustainable solutions.
  • Cycles: every organism/system goes through different stages.
  • Diversity: systems/places function because of variety.
  • Equilibrium: a state of balance.
  • Equity/Fairness: resources need to be shared to meet the needs of living things across places and generations.
  • Interdependence: all living things are connected.  Every organism/system/place depends on others.
  • Limits: every system has a carrying capacity.
  • Long-term effects: we can project that actions will have effects beyond immediate reactions.
  • Place: natural and human communities together make up one’s place.  Every place has its own needs and limits.
  • Systems: elements that affect each other and are connected through larger patterns.

Scope & Sequence of Big Ideas K-12  The Big Ideas lend themselves to curricular inclusion in a variety of ways.  This scope and sequence suggests one possibility of how these big ideas can build upon one another across grade levels.

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