What is this professional learning program?

What are the time commitments and costs?

What are the key dates to add to my calendar?

Who is this program for?

Can I get university credits?

Is this program face-to-face or virtual?

What are sustainability-focused action projects, and how do they fit into all disciplines?

What is a showcase of student learning?

What competencies will I develop as an educator through participation in this program?

What deliverables will I be developing throughout this program?

What is sustainability and eco-literacy?

What is environmental justice?

What is global competence?

What are pedagogies that invite student agency?

I already do Project-based Learning in my classroom. Is this a good fit for me?  

How does this program align with common LCAP goals?

Why do we investigate global issues, and take action locally?  

Who can I contact if I have more specific questions?

What is this professional learning program?

This is a year-long program that begins with a 90-minute virtual launch, which prepares K-12 teachers for a 5-day institute during which participants collaborate with academic scholars and other professionals to develop knowledge about environmental principles and sustainability issues. Participants also learn how to develop students’ global competence and eco-literacy through inquiry-based instructional practices. Over the course of 5 days, participants engage in learning activities that prepare them to use design thinking and other strategies that address equity and inspire authentic, context-relevant learning. During the institute, teachers prepare instructional plans that culminate in a local (and/or virtual) showcase of student learning. Options include attending one of several local showcases/youth summits, collaborating to design their own, and participating in a statewide virtual event. In addition to learning and collaborating with university scholars and community professionals, teachers will have planning time to design their action plans in alignment with existing curriculum, standards, initiatives, and other resources. Following the 5-day institute, participants have access to follow-up support, including 3 webinars, local field study, and/or coaching.

What are the time commitments and costs?

Outside of the five institute days (contained during the summer or spread out during the school year) that require teachers' full participation, optional support is available during the school year for teachers to implement their plans and guide students in their Sustainable Communities Action Projects. Based on their professional learning plans and goals, teachers will determine whether they need ongoing support as part of the learning community; mentoring/coaching around implementing the action project, and/or fieldwork experience. Teachers commit to developing or entering an existing student showcase for students to exhibit their action projects.

We will support educators in setting up fieldwork experiences, working with local organizations and partners, and finding additional resources to learn more about the issues they cover in their action project with students. The cost for participation in this program depends on the regional site (please refer to your regional flier). Program materials, refreshments, and parking costs will be covered during the summer institute. All participants will have to arrange their own transportation to and from the institute. Stipends may be provided to participants who complete the program deliverables by the end of the school year.

For this program, the out-of-state registration fee is $500 (without accommodations), travel and accommodations will be the participant's responsibility.


What are the key dates to add to my calendar?

April 30th: Priority deadline for all applications

June 17: 3:30 - 5:00 pm Virtual Launch (to be recorded)

June 21-25: Long Beach, Fullerton, Santa Barbara Institutes (half-day synchronous)

July 6-9 & November 6: San Diego Institute (mornings synchronous)

July 27-29: Stanislaus Institute (plus 2 days in the Fall)

September-April: Educators engage in follow-up support, including one-hour webinars October 7 (4 - 5:00 pm), January, and April

February-May: Teachers and students prepare for local showcase (statewide virtual showcase date/time TBD)

* Regional sites may have additional dates for follow-up support


Who is this program for?

Sustainable communities are those that value and embrace social, economic, and ecological diversity. As such, we are looking for diverse representation amongst teacher participants and the students they teach. We invite all K-12 teachers from various disciplines and teaching contexts who want to focus on strategies for increasing equity and engagement of all students, including students from vulnerable populations such as low-income families, foster youth, students of color, students who are undocumented, and students who identify as LGBTQ+.

We encourage applications from teachers who work in schools that embrace environmental and outdoor education, project-based learning, community-based learning, global learning, and alternative assessments as core to their ethos. Green schools, academies focused on environmental and/or global studies, and Linked Learning schools are encouraged to apply.

We also encourage school teams or pairs of teachers to participate together. 

Can I earn CEUs?

Yes. Teachers can earn salary advancement (or graduate-level extension) credits through the Professional and Continuing Education department at the University of San Diego.

Teachers can apply to earn 3 graduate-level extension credits at the total cost of $225 by registering online before or during the institute and paying USD directly. To earn these units, teachers must sign in daily and successfully complete the program deliverables. These units will be awarded at the end of the institute.


What are sustainability-focused action projects, and how do they fit into all disciplines?

Educators want to make learning authentic and relevant for students, and we are all indigenous to planet earth. Therefore, applying our learning to the protection of our planet and the rights of our fellow human beings is a compelling challenge that positions students as heroes of their own stories, and makes learning come to life. Teachers of any discipline can leverage the content and skills taught in their classes to give students an opportunity to apply their learning in alignment with the greater good — actions that take place in their own local homes and communities to address sustainability and environmental justice issues.


What is a student showcase?

There are many festivals, summits, exhibitions, showcases, and other events around the state where students can share what they have learned through an action project. A showcase serves as a site for sharing reflections on the process and outcomes. Showcases can take place at schools, district or county offices, universities, or in the community. In 2021-2022, we will launch our first online/virtual student showcase in Spring 2022 to provide another opportunity for students to share and learn from each other.


What competencies will I develop as an educator through participation in this program?

Teachers will develop knowledge and skills related to:

  • Understanding global conditions and current events

  • Creating a classroom environment that values diversity and engagement

  • Experiential learning to understand multiple cultures and perspectives

  • Promoting equity and social justice

  • Integrating learning experiences that promote content-aligned explorations of the world

  • Developing local partnerships that provide real-world contexts for global learning opportunities

  • Developing and using appropriate methods of inquiry to assess students’ global competence development


What is expected from me throughout this program?

  • During the summer institute, teachers will have time, resources, and support to design instructional plans that lead to sustainable communities action projects, including general lesson plans and a timeline for implementation.

  • Over the course of the year, teachers will document and reflect on (with help from CGEP) the outcomes of their lessons and projects leading up to the student showcase, especially as they relate to student agency and building global competence and eco-literacy.

  • As this is a professional learning community, teachers will reflect (through check-ins and/or written reflections) on their own growth as educators empowering eco-literate global citizens and share their reflections with others.


What is sustainability and eco-literacy?

The UNESCO site on Education for Sustainable Development reminds us that, “the message of sustainability is not ‘new’; it can be summarized into three main themes that help bring all disciplinary learning together under one umbrella: a) all living systems are connected b) human quality of life is just as important as economic development c) there can be no long-term economic development without attention to human development and the quality of the environment. Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. There are three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet, and profits.

These ideas are central to the wisdom and values that inform ways of living sustainably that have characterized indigenous and farming peoples in many parts of the world for thousands of years. Eco-literate students have the knowledge, awareness, and ability to make decisions that promote health and well-being for themselves and their communities without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.


What is environmental justice?

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, & enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

What is global competence?

Global competence is a set of dispositions or skills that all young people need to navigate a rapidly changing world. These competencies, which are practiced throughout the summer institute and will be built into student action projects, are framed by the domains of Investigating the World, Recognizing Perspectives, Communicating Ideas, and Taking Action. Please refer to the CGEP website for more information on global competence and to download the Global Competence Framework.

What are pedagogies that invite student agency?

Design thinking, project-based learning, interdisciplinary learning, place-based learning, community-based learning, participatory action research, action research, Socratic inquiry, storytelling, values-based education, future problem solving, experiential learning, learning outside the classroom, community-based problem solving (and more!) position students to develop the skills and knowledge needed to recognize and establish their voice while contributing to a sustainable future. Through these practices and an inquiry mindset, teaching and learning are used to empower and inspire students to see themselves as lifelong, active global citizens in their communities and the world.


I already do Project Based Learning in my classroom. Is this a good fit for me?

Yes! Project-based learning invites students into a sustained inquiry process that ends in developing a public product that is shared beyond the classroom. Designing sustainable communities action projects follows many of the same principles and serves as an authentic public product that intentionally considers students’ problem-solving interests in alignment with local, national, and global policy and solutions.


How does this program align with common LCAP goals?

This program will help educators meet common LCAP Goals including:

  • Increase academic learning through use of action-oriented pedagogy; project-based learning, design thinking and action research

  • Increase attendance through authentic student engagement

  • Increase (stakeholder) parent and community involvement through design of a standards-aligned sustainable communities action project

  • Contribute to positive school climate culture through standards-aligned action projects that allow for the application of disciplinary learning to the development of sustainable, healthy, and equitable communities


What is a Sustainable Communities Action Project (SCAP)?

The Sustainable Communities Action Project is a sustained and collaborative effort to learn about an issue or outcome related to human sustainability on the planet; students develop a solution aimed to advance the sustainability of our local and global community. Teachers will design their SCAP during the 5-day summer institute, and implement the SCAP over the course of the 2018-2019 school year. More on what the SCAP is:

  • A sustained inquiry process that requires students to think deeply about challenges; learning to see themselves as lifelong learners and active citizens

  • Students consult directly with people actively involved in overcoming identified challenges

  • Creates space for students to connect with the community and see community spaces and people as an extension of the classroom

  • Creates space for students to investigate local policy and take actions that align with policy

  • Creates space for students to work in groups, and also to reflect on their own place in the community and the world; students practice and develop their individual agency and group agency when it comes to overcoming challenges

  • Connects project to global goals for sustainable development, enabling students to identify global patterns around their issue

  • Considers ecological and social justice in the planning of an action

  • Impact is measured by how well students’ actions serve and follow the leadership of the people impacted by the issue  


How is the SCAP Standards-Aligned?

In the 5-day institute, we will explore ways that your standards and frameworks connect to global competence, eco-literacy and issues of sustainability. Sustainability education is an overarching and global concept that cuts across and unifies all disciplines, offering pathways for integrated projects and collaboration across disciplines. In addition, we will make explicit connections between this project and your efforts to prepare students to be college and career ready including:

  • identifying personal goals

  • utilizing critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

  • reflecting on responsibilities as a citizen

  • working productively in teams while integrating cultural and global competence

  • demonstrate creativity and innovation

  • employ valid and reliable research strategies

  • understand the environmental, social and economic impacts of decisions


Why do we investigate global issues, and take action locally?   

As UNESCO states, “Individuals, families and community groups are best placed to tackle global issues at the local level – and it is at the local level that teachers, schools and students can also learn skills for building a sustainable future.”

One of the primary purposes of this project is for students to think critically about an issue and the challenges surrounding it. We look at ourselves and our own local landscapes because we have more entry points for authentically engaging and understanding an issue; students have more access to firsthand information and the capacity to take the types of direct actions that allow them to develop agency and empathy.  

As students understand how personal and local issues and solutions also manifest globally, they learn that acting locally does indeed serve communities beyond their own local community. This concept of thinking globally and acting locally allows educators to think about developmentally appropriate ways to bring the complexity of the world to our classrooms. Ultimately, acting locally inspires grassroots solutions, and helps build community support for our schools and students.  

To practice and develop agency, students need to see themselves as actors in the broader community. In this work, educators explicitly make space for students to see their action projects in relation to local policy, national and global goals for society. By connecting learning to what is happening in the wider community, students grow personally, develop relationships with people outside their school and families, and gather new ideas that can be applied to their own experience, or within their school communities.  


Who can I contact if I have more specific questions?

Please contact your local CGEP Regional Director for specifics about the program:

CSU Fullerton: Dr. Lisa McAllister

CSU Long Beach: Barbara Vallejo Doten

CSU Stanislaus: Maureen McCorry

UC Santa Barbara: Dr. Lisa McAllister

University of San Diego: Stephanie Buttell-Maxin

 Questions about the CGEP signature program can be directed to Program Manager Stephanie Duran or Executive Director Emily Schell.