Efforts to incorporate sustainability into schools must go beyond environmental measures to look at cultural and social sustainability as well.
A conference held at Launceston Church Grammar brought together experts in education, sustainability and students to discuss ways to better collaborate and implement sustainability in the sector.
The workshops were facilitated by Education for Sustainability Tasmania, a grassroots organisation that developed into a network focused on creating a stronger cultural identity and a better awareness of sustainability practices.
Education for Sustainability Tasmania chair Ben Clark, also a teacher at Launceston Grammar, said educators, non-government organisations such as Tamar NRM and community organisations all attended to develop better collaboration.
“We’re lucky enough to have Jen Dollin from Western Sydney University, our keynote speaker, she’s talking about collaboration and how to build that,” he said.
“We’ve also had some snapshots from across Northern Tasmania … talking about cultural sustainability.”
Mr Clark said trying to involve students as much as possible in sustainable practices was a major driver for the project.
Presentations and workshops used the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a guideline to develop conversations about how to break down the word sustainability into more approachable and friendly language.
Key topics were the benefits of collaboration in and across school spaces, while a workshop facilitated by Ms Dollin also looked at ways for educators to better apply sustainable principals in classrooms.
Two grade 6 pupils from Port Dalrymple School in George Town, Samantha Lockwood and Charlotte Norden, joined University of Tasmania PhD candidate Sherridan Emery to present their collaborative experiences.
Ms Emery, working on cultural wellbeing for her studies, pointed to the example of the two pupils presenting the Welcome to Country at the conference as a practical demonstration of cultural sustainability, going beyond the typical definition of the word to look at more ways of maintaining and developing a long-term healthy society.
She said Port Dalrymple School has run a cultural arts program facilitated by Communities for Children student networker Katrina Miller that encourages pupils to think about sustainability in a different way.
“Local steps to global goals – it’s not just our recycling and vegetable growing and composting, it’s also really these ideas of cultural sustainability,” she said.