Schooling for Sustainable Development in Canada and the United States

Volume 4 of the series Schooling for Sustainable Development pp 37-49


Education for Sustainability in the K-12 Educational System of the United States

  • Noah Weeth FeinsteinAffiliated withSchool of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Ginny CarltonAffiliated withCollege of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

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This chapter describes the evolution and current status of education for sustainability (EfS) in the K-12 school system of the United States. We briefly review the major educational and political movements that set the stage for contemporary EfS in the United States. In particular, we describe how the guiding concept of sustainability vanished and reemerged from discussions about education in the early years of the twenty-first century. We outline the national and state policy landscape and discuss the unusual role of educational nonprofits in shaping policy. Then, drawing on the available research literature and on illustrative examples from educational practice, we discuss the nascent strengths and formidable challenges facing EfS in US public schools. Throughout the chapter, we focus particular attention on the contribution of environmental education to EfS.