The 21st Century European Teachers: sustainability and education

Monday 13 May 2024

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How can education contribute to sustainable development? And, how can education be made sustainable?

Sustainability is a term frequently used in numerous contexts and is defined as “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”(Cambridge University Press). Sustainable development then stands for development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (International Institute for Sustainable Development).

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is UNESCO’s concept of education that addresses interconnected global challenges including climate change, loss of biodiversity, unsustainable use of resources, and inequality. It intends to empower learners to make informed decisions and take individual and collective action to change society and care for the planet. Education for sustainable development doesn´t target school children and students only. It is a lifelong learning process and counts with learners of all ages and backgrounds. Education for sustainable development strives for equipping people with knowledge and skills enabling them to find solutions to the urgent challenges the planet and societies face. On the other hand, it targets transversal competencies by enhancing the cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural dimensions of learning and encompassing learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment itself. The objective of this approach is to allow every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. (UNESCO, 2023)

The 21st Century European Teachers project targets the need for integrating sustainability in education and adopts Education for Sustainable learning as one of its four thematic pillars for the 21st Century European Teachers transformational framework.

From the 20th to 22nd March 2024, more than 40 in-service and pre-service teachers from Denmark, Finland, Romania, Spain, and Italy met in Aarhus, Denmark for a three-day joint learning module dedicated to sustainability in education where CESIE took part together with the Istituto Comprensivo Giovanni XXIII – Piazzi. The programme prepared by the project coordinator VIA University College included discussions, workshops and observation of educational practices in a local school followed by analysis of empirical data and evaluation.

The participants obtained unique insights into the possible strategies of participatory and playful teaching and learning that address environmental, social and economic issues in a holistic way. They discussed and experimented methodologies to cultivate pupils´ competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration on decision-making, while empowering them to take action for sustainable development.

The mobility opportunity served not only to advance education and teaching in schools and to cultivate the competencies of participating pre- and in-service teachers, but also to exchange know-how, share experience and to lay a solid foundation for a network of the 21st Century European Teachers.

If you are interested in receiving more information regarding the implementation of XXI-EU-TEACH read more about the project e visit the web site or contact

About the project

XXI-EU-TEACH – 21st Century European Teachers is a three-years-long project financed by EACEA under Erasmus+ Teacher Academies Partnership for Excellence. It promotes cross-campus collaboration to gain insight into how European teachers can approach and develop teaching in emerging 4 subject areas: Technological empowerment, Sustainable learning, Entrepreneurship, Playful learning.


For further information

Read more about XXI-EU-TEACH and visit the website

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