Gaia YES! (Youth Education for Sustainability) Seminar 1: ‘Let’s get started’


On 8th to 10th December 2020, representatives from Gaia Education, Gaia NederlandGaia koolTallinn University and Permacultura Mediterránea met virtually to make a common start to the Gaia YES (Youth Education for Sustainability) Erasmus + funded project.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) on all levels is critically needed with accelerating climate change and fast decreasing biodiversity. As schools lay the foundation for tomorrow’s leaders, experts and responsible citizens, integration of knowledge and skills for sustainable development in schools is crucial for our planet’s future. Sustainable development is considered to be important and there is a lot of knowledge about sustainable living, but this knowledge reaches schools and young people hectically. ESD is not consistently reflected in general education schools’ curricula, meaning that young people do not develop a holistic vision and experience of sustainable living.

That was the main reason why five partner organisations from four countries came together and initiated this project. Together, we found that the goals of the project are to develop an ESD Holistic Curriculum for youth and a Guide for Educators. In addition, the partners will develop a curriculum for Gaia School (students aged 16-19) and an online-environment for educators and youth.

The first seminar in December 2020 focused on the ESD Holistic Curriculum for Youth, where we sought to achieve the following goals:
– to increase the participants’ knowledge of the curriculum creation process and structure;
– to develop the framework for the holistic curriculum;
– to start the curriculum development process and gather the first input from the participants.

Initially, all participants planned to meet in Estonia, but due to changing circumstances with the Covid-19 pandemic, we conducted the seminar virtually on Zoom. The seminar was attended by 18 people, all contributing their own ideas and expertise towards the initial development of the ESD Holistic Curriculum.

To make the seminar as collaborative and creatively free as possible, we used the exciting visual platform, Mural, which gave all participants the chance to contribute ideas together. This provided a good basis for joint discussion and further development of ideas.

Together, the five dimensions of the curriculum were reviewed: Social, Ecological, Economic, Worldview, and Indigenous. Participants also gave their input to dimension-specific modules within the curriculum and shared their ideas through the lens of a learning objectives prism of head, heart and hand.

This was the initial stage of the ESD Holistic Curriculum development. The collected input is being taken into account by the project’s curriculum team, whose task it is to work with these dimensions in more detail and create the final product of the curriculum for use in schools.

The first seminar was facilitated by three of the project partner organisations: Gaia Education, Tallinn University and Gaia School. Thank you to our fellow facilitators!

The next seminar will take place in April 2021, hosted by Gaia Nederland, and will focus on sharing best practice on how different schools can implement ESD principles in their own contexts.

This project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.