Climate change, loss of biodiversity, unsustainable use of resources, and inequality are among the biggest global challenges young people face today. An education that empowers students to find solutions to these interconnected issues requires a holistic, cross-curricular approach, equipping them with knowledge, tools, skills and values needed to make informed decisions and take impact-oriented action, whether individual or collective. At Dunecrest American School, teachers across subjects have been collaborating, and working closely with students, to encourage hands-on learning with real-world projects, that not only highlight global issues, but also drive students to find solutions for change.
UNESCO defines Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a lifelong learning process and an integral part of quality education that enhances cognitive, social and emotional and behavioral dimensions of learning. It is holistic and transformational and encompasses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment itself. Aligned with Dunecrest’s mission, as well as ESD, Dunecrest students, from Elementary to High School, have worked on a wide range of action and impact-oriented projects such as: plant towers; climate change awareness programs; school gardens; food security research; school community sustainability action plans; and farm-to-table cooking. Some of these were showcased recently at Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots UAE Awards Ceremony. The mission of the Roots & Shoots program is to empower young people to become compassionate and environmentally conscious leaders who can create a better future.
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Grade 10 students in Integrated Humanities used the design thinking model to develop sustainable school action plans. In teams, students conducted academic research and local interviews, identified ways to advance the school community by making it more sustainable, developed a comprehensive plan, and showcased their learning by creating websites. Their solutions including concepts such as school gardens, composting food waste from the school’s culinary program, recycling and energy conservation and school-wide communication and education programs. The project allowed students to have a voice and be given opportunities to build upon their Approaches to Learning (ATL) and leadership skills. .
Climate Change Seminar
In a world where the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly visible, it's more important than ever for our globally-minded students to be informed about the impact of their actions on the planet. Our Grade 10 Dunecrest students in Integrated Humanities were given the opportunity to learn about climate change through a series of meaningful tasks. The class embarked on a unique learning journey, where they were randomly assigned to teams to explore the issue of climate change in a collaborative environment. Their teachers introduced them to the book "Hothouse Earth" by Bill McGuire, which provided an in-depth analysis of the current state of the planet. To deepen their understanding, each student was tasked with reading a chapter of the book, taking detailed notes and summarizing the most critical information. The students then assembled into small groups to discuss the material they had read, fostering an intellectual community within the classroom. With their newfound knowledge, the students embarked on a mission to educate their classmates through a student-led Climate Change Seminar. Each group developed a plan to present their chapter in a clear and concise manner, highlighting the most crucial aspects of the text.
As a culmination of their efforts, the students were asked to handwrite a response modeled after an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) assessment. This task allowed them to explore the quote by Albert Einstein, "those who have the privilege to know have a duty to act," which reinforced the idea that with knowledge comes responsibility. Most importantly, the class learned that climate change is a complex global challenge that requires collective action if we are to save the planet. By fostering a community of critical thinkers and informed individuals, the Integrated Humanities class has taken a vital step towards creating a sustainable future. This experience has taught us that we all have a role to play in preserving the planet for future generations.
In a world where the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly visible, it's more important than ever for our globally-minded students to be informed about the impact of their actions on the planet.
The Happy Vegetables Project is an innovative IB CAS project that aims to promote sustainable practices and the circular economy. By taking waste from the school cafeteria and turning it into compost, the project not only reduces waste but also creates a valuable resource that is used to grow plants in the school garden. The plants are grown by younger students, providing them with an opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainability and the benefits of composting.
Dunecrest IB students have taken a proactive step towards promoting sustainability by launching a second-hand uniform store, Sustainable Solutions, as their CAS project. The store aims to reduce uniform waste and provide affordable uniforms for parents. The initiative is based on a donation system where Dunecrest community can donate their used uniforms, which will be cleaned, repaired and resold by Sustainable Solutions. The profits made will cover the costs of cleaning and repairing. This project is an excellent opportunity to raise environmental awareness among students and promote sustainability practices. Establishing a recycling culture sets an example for other organizations and encourages the community to take action towards sustainability. Donation boxes placed near the Dunecrest uniform store, and future trade-in days allow for an exchange of donated uniforms for second-hand stock.
Dunecrest students are preparing to join school students from across the world for #Decarbonize, a youth leadership series held in parallel with the upcoming COP28 conference scheduled for November 2023 in Dubai. The workshops and activities aim to amplify the lived experiences and voices of young people impacted by climate change providing them with a platform to ensure that solutions and approaches are shaped by their knowledge and experiences. After the success of AISE students at COP27, Dunecrest students can look forward to an action-packed week which will help them learn about, advocate for, and act on climate issues and build leadership and global citizenship skills to best serve their homes, schools, and communities.
"We are increasingly asking if what people learn is truly relevant to their lives, if what they learn helps to ensure the survival of our planet. Education for Sustainable Development can provide the knowledge, awareness and action that empower people to transform themselves and transform societies”"
~ Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO
*Contributions by Mr. Daniel Cruz, Curriculum Leader - Social Studies, Alannah William, Grade 10 and Safia Ben Halim and Mayz El Abiedi, Grade 11