Environmental education inspiration from IH schools

After nearly a year of increased engagement with the topic of environmental sustainability, we have seen evidence of the many good things that IH schools are doing to move this topic up the conversation.

The first criteria that IHWO look at when encouraging IH schools to participate in the IH Environmental Sustainability scheme is education.
The more we can all engage with and talk about environmental and global citizenship topics the more we raise our students' awareness about sustainability. The more we educate everybody the more likely they are to change their own behaviour and increase their desire to challenge any negative behaviours in the people they see around them.

Many IH schools have found, both through their own curriculum and through participation in topics like the IH Young Environmentalists Projects, that our students are already interested with this subject and are ready to take action. Not only students, but it’s a topic which many teachers are interested in and it’s something that genuinely enthuses them. So, tapping into this is beneficial to your students and motivating for your teachers.
Integrating environmental sustainability and citizenship within your curriculum is easy. It’s a positive step every school can take. These are examples that we have found in the past six months around the IH network.

Thinking of summer schools and summer camps, and IH Merate Como Lecce have built on foundations from their 2020 summer camp to devised a camp for 2021 with the theme of Global Guardians. There are weeks devoted to the important place of food and reducing waste, the importance of the terrestrial ecosystem and biodiversity, and using accessible and sustainable energy in a respectful way, 

IH San Sebastian have also developed a summer camp, also shaped by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Their camp has explicit themes of Life on land, Life below Water, Zero Hunger and Clean Energy.

IH Sofia have integrated global issues throughout their entire “Responsible Citizens” curriculum. Its objectives are to “educate their students to become the best person they can be with a greater respect for the world and the environment around them.”

The major themes of the environment, the community and health are developed throughout the curriculum and with specific projects. No new textbooks were needed, no costly new materials, no change to the basic course structure. This was designed as a simple, achievable, shift for teachers. You can read more details of this here.

Projects are a great vehicle for getting students involved with local environmental topics. For example IH San Sebastian have worked on a rewilding project with local schools to create a pollination garden in a disused aera of land.

IH Torres Vedras have run projects with their young learners, for example their “Robots” project. This not only introduced the subject of environmental sustainability, but got them recycling too. 

In the study abroad context, skills lessons can be an ideal vehicle for themed content. IH Rouen regularly includes themed “environmental” weeks for its students. 

Other schools are gradually starting to introduce sustainability topics into the curriculum by mandating that every class should have one, or more, lessons per term, but leaving it very much to the teachers to decide on the content of this. Resources abound from ELT Footprint, and the British Council’s “Be Inspired” series.

Protecting our planet is a huge undertaking, and a huge challenge. But we can be the change. International House and our thousands of students around the world can be part of the solution. Do something positive.

Read more about the IH Environmental Sustainability Scheme!