Preparing young people for sustainable living requires educators who can touch and influence the whole student, including his or her values, abilities, and relationship to the natural world.

The Center for Ecoliteracy has identified a set of fifteen core competencies that young people need to develop for living in sustainable communities—the ability to:

Head (Cognitive)

  • Approach issues and situations from a systems perspective
  • Understand fundamental ecological principles
  • Think critically, solve problems creatively, and apply knowledge to new situations
  • Assess the impacts and ethical effects of human technologies and actions
  • Envision the long-term consequences of decisions

Heart (Emotional)

  • Feel concern, empathy, and respect for other people and living things
  • See from and appreciate multiple perspectives; work with and value others with different backgrounds, motivations, and intentions
  • Commit to equity, justice, inclusivity, and respect for all people

Hands (Active)

  • Create and use tools, objects, and procedures required by sustainable communities
  • Turn convictions into practical and effective action, and apply ecological knowledge to the practice of ecological design
  • Assess and adjust uses of energy and resources

Spirit (Connectional)

  • Experience wonder and awe toward nature
  • Revere the Earth and all living things
  • Feel a strong bond with and deep appreciation of place
  • Feel kinship with the natural world and invoke that feeling in others
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