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 a 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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