non formal education

CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR educational experiences in their daily lives than ever before. Formal learning is only the beginning. Today, we can gain information and knowledge through the media, our workplaces, and community activities. Nonformal education offers hands-on experiences as well as more traditional modes of learning. As indicated by the Commission on Global Governance, the need for these nonformal educational experiences is urgent:

"The collective power of people to shape the future is greater now than ever before, and the need to exercise it is more compelling. Mobilizing that power to make life in the twenty-first century more democratic, more secure, and more sustainable is the foremost challenge of this generation." 18 

Systematic approaches are needed to help educational consumers sort through and tie together the information resulting from everyday experiences. An Agenda for Action  attempts to articulate opportunities to craft nonformal educational experiences that enhance the ability of citizens to be better consumers, producers, policymakers, and stewards of the environment for their communities.

Nonformal Education

Expand public access to opportunities to learn about sustainability issues as they relate to the private, work, and community lives of individuals.

Action 4: Public Awareness

Support a campaign to raise public awareness of sustainability, convey information on indicators of sustainable development, and encourage individuals to adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives.


In today's world, information about the global environment, and sustainable development is increasingly available through television, print media, telecommunications networks, and commercial software products. Using this information, American citizens make decisions about day-to-day actions on what to buy and what to do about issues that affect their communities. Although the public has a heightened awareness of sustainability issues and is responding by making wise decisions regarding those issues, the process of sifting through information is not as easy or helpful as many would like. Unclear messages increase the difficulty of encouraging an individual (or targeted audience) to engage in action or make informed choices.

Federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis and groups such as the President's Council on Sustainable Development are creating sustainable development indicators so that the American public can track and monitor progress in specific areas. Yardsticks for measuring our nation's progress toward sustainability and staying in touch with the impacts of day-to-day actions on natural and built environments, economic growth and social systems are vital. Such efforts can benefit from media attention and support from groups working cooperatively to raise the collective awareness and knowledge base of the American public. Only then can the public's understanding of the meaning and importance of sustainability be enhanced.

School systems in the United States are struggling to develop and implement the requisite curricula to teach youngsters about the importance of sustainability and its relationship to quality of life. Businesses, community groups, and professional organizations have engaged in this dialogue and have been quick to realize that more information is needed.

Foster increased public awareness of sustainability through a public awareness program.

A concerted public awareness effort will assist the American public in gaining a firm grasp of the concept of sustainability and the practices that promote it. The program should employ specific examples of everyday actions that are sustainable, descriptive, potential cumulative benefits associated with sustainable behavior, and the positive impacts of changed U.S. policies and practices on the world as a whole.

If these efforts are successful, individuals will understand that these changes are worthwhile and have the potential to raise the quality of their lives. Easily understood information should be shared on a regular basis. This information should include relevant measures to gauge societal progress towards sustainability.

Support a system of regularly updated, comprehensible national benchmarks of progress toward the goals of sustainability.

Throughout the United States, decisions are made that affect the long-term health and viability of communities. These decisions are responses to growth and development issues and the use and protection of natural resources. Individual citizens often sense a gap between their own day-to-day choices and the impact on events at the broader community, national, or global scales.

With help from the media, a focused partnership aimed at informing the public about indicators of sustainability can help bridge this gap. The indicators can provide citizens with information that demonstrates individual contributions to the overall picture. Such efforts are under discussion, but no one best formula has been found to date. With further discussion, however, a system of benchmarks will emerge that can play a significant role in informing individuals.

Entertainment media may consider designing a coordinated media campaign to raise youngsters' awareness of sustainability.

The popularity of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a television program that is seen in 80 countries by 300 million children a day, suggests that entertainment media can play a role in raising the awareness of young children about a concept like sustainability. 19  Such an effort must engage a wide range of stakeholders and yield benefits for all -- most importantly, children.

Rescue Mission: Planet Earth
Sustainable Development Indicators

Young people around the world are playing a role in monitoring progress toward sustainable development through the Sustainability Indicators Project, which is sponsored by the United Nations. Under this project, youth help measure progress toward building and maintaining healthy communities. The Sustainability Indicators Project is spearheaded by Rescue Mission: Planet Earth, an organization with affiliates throughout the world.

School groups, individuals, community groups, and families are invited to participate in the project. The kinds of questions the program is trying to address include: "What is happening in your community?" "Are people becoming more prosperous while at the same time healing and conserving the environment?"

Rescue Mission was begun in 1992 by Peace Child International. The initial project, a book titled Rescue Mission: Planet Earth, is a children's edition of Agenda 21 . The book, which is filled with case studies, pictures, poems, and photos, was written and illustrated by thousands of young people around the world.

After publication of the book, Rescue Mission: Planet Earth  became an independent organization. The United Nations asked Rescue Mission to create a project that will give young people a role in identifying sustainability indicators and monitoring the progress achieved since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

What is an "INDICATOR"?

Sustainable Development Indicators are based on the broad issues discussed in Agenda 21  and involve looking at specific environmental or social issues, pinpointing trends through analysis. For example, if youth in Seattle, Washington, monitor the number of days each year they can see the peak of Mount Rainier, then this can be a simple indicator of air quality in that region. Similarly, youth can determine the number of new jobs created in a community in a given year, or analyze population growth over time. For further information on the "Rescue Mission Indicators Packet," contact Rescue Mission or The Foundation for the Future of Youth.

Support the continued outreach to American journalists on issues related to sustainability.

Efforts have been launched to inform the journalism community in a systematic way about issues of global environmental concern. Examples include The Reporter's Environmental Handbook , published by the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Reporting Climate Change , published by the National Safety Council. Such efforts have been limited, however, and require additional resources and a broader base of information on current, accurate findings.

Establish incentive programs, such as national awards, to recognize successful partnerships within the business community that support educational efforts on sustainability.

The private sector, especially the business community, has been responsible for some of the most innovative programs in the environmental and sustainable development arena. Nevertheless, school personnel struggle to establish successful partnerships to tap the expertise of the business and industry community. At the same time, businesses are searching to identify the best educational approaches.

Incentives are needed to encourage and sustain partnerships and successes that are working. Recognition for those who are investing resources and creative energy in the formation and implementation of educational programs can encourage others if they believe that their work will be publicly acknowledged.

Action 5: Sustainable Development Extension Network

Establish an extension network to enhance the capacity of individuals, workforces, and communities to live sustainably.


If the public is to become more involved in local sustainability issues, support mechanisms are needed to translate research information, transfer new technologies, introduce educational strategies, develop public policy, and organize at the community level to chart sustainable courses of action. A successful extension network would empower individuals in communities to shape their own futures through an appropriate mix of education, technical assistance, and fiscal support. Extension networks give individuals the tools to control their own futures, while providing data and information, educational expertise, and needed financial assistance.

In addition to the Cooperative Extension System (USDA) based on the Smith- Lever Act,20  other federal agencies have developed extension services, such as Sea Grant (NOAA), Space Grant (NASA), and the Manufacturing Extension Service (Commerce). These extension units need a mechanism whereby they can continue to use their own networks, invest their own funds, partner with other agencies, and make contributions to communities around a common set of goals.

Establish a national Sustainable Development Extension Network (SUDENET) to foster access to information, technical expertise, and collaborative strategies that result in action taken by local communities.

A new mechanism is needed that includes but is not exclusively controlled by any one existing extension entity. A redefined Sustainable Development Extension Network could employ services offered by diverse educational units such as community colleges, public schools, and private sector educational entities, as well as nongovernmental organizations focusing on similar issues and priorities. At the same time, the new network can build upon the current infrastructure that exists in every county in the United States through the Cooperative Extension System, Sea Grant, and Space Grant programs.

The existing extension system could contribute to the new Sustainable Development Extension Network by providing technical assistance that brings together researchers who are developing new technologies and those who adopt those new technologies; promoting sustainable development practices by providing information on sustainable alternatives and benefits; facilitating community visioning and planning processes; and providing access to current data and information available through electronic gateways.

A national Sustainable Development Extension Network could help provide bridges among areas of expertise in government agencies, universities, and colleges. To address the concerns of consumers, producers, communities, and individuals, a new collaborative strategy could be deployed among organizations that would provide assistance. A Sustainable Development Extension Network also would help ensure that local needs drive national policy; national policy and programs are coordinated; and research, education, and extension roles for government and private sector agencies are clarified. Success ultimately will be assessed by the actions taken by local communities.

A Sustainable Development Extension Network should be coordinated with other initiatives described in An Agenda for Action .

More specifically, the network could:

  1. Assist in the implementation of a national effort to increase awareness of sustainability at the state and community levels.

  2. Identify, document, and electronically link community civic groups, schools, businesses, and other entities interested in sustainable development.

  3. Provide for local and state participation in the development of essential learnings in sustainability, design of community visioning and assessment processes, student performance outcomes, criteria for curriculum development, and other standards.

  4. Coordinate the efforts of major groups that design community visioning and assessment processes by documenting strategies and compiling results of such efforts.

  5. Identify model programs that satisfy agreed-upon standards of sustainable development.

  6. Design and deliver training to organizations and individuals interested in applying principles of sustainability to their businesses, governments, projects, families, or schools.

  7. Develop a five-year plan of action that targets specific geographic areas through a priority-setting process, and recommend public policy that enables the actions.

  8. Develop a multidimensional matrix that includes environmental, economic, and social components so each agency role will be maximized in terms of education, technical support, and financial assistance to specific geographic areas.

  9. Coordinate the above functions with new and existing clearinghouses related to education for sustainability across the country.

The proposed action plans, management structure, funding mechanism, and evaluation indicators for the Sustainable Development Extension Network are based on shared decision-making and leadership, coordinated actions, individual and collective organizational accountability for funds and program outcomes, and management for results. Although the goal might be reached more quickly through unilateral investment in a single organizational entity, the national goal of sustainable development requires a more comprehensive strategy.

Representatives from the participating agencies as well as state consortia should direct a process to determine how a Sustainable Development Extension Network can best be managed, staffed, and financed. The process should be coordinated with the national policy recommendations from the President's Council on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Communities Implementation Team of the National Environmental Technology Strategy. This process should result in the development of accountability indicators, collection of data, analysis of results, and formulation of recommendations and conclusions concerning a Sustainable Development Extension Network.

The formation, structure, management, leadership, and implementation of a Sustainable Development Extension Network could be based on the following principles:

Farmers and Rural Landowners Take Positive Steps

In 1991, a group of federal agencies initiated a unique voluntary approach to pollution prevention in rural areas. The Farm Assessment System and Home Assessment System (Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst) has a simple goal: with technical assistance from the agencies, landowners increase their knowledge of health- and non-health-related risks from pollution, look critically at their property, and then take voluntary actions to reduce the risks.

To date, more than 22,000 individual assessments have been conducted by farmers, rural homeowners, and ranchers. Actions they have taken to reduce risks on their property range from improving indoor air quality to reducing lead levels in drinking water and improving petroleum storage and pesticides handling.

Participants have invested more than $15 million to reduce environmental risks. The success of the program lies in its flexible framework and the local support it generates.

Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst program materials have been adapted for multicultural use and integration into school curricula. The program is a cooperative effort initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A number of interagency and private sector partnerships are supporting the programs throughout the United States and Canada.

Action 6: Community Visioning and Assessment

Encourage partnerships and activities that support community visioning and assessment activities.


Visioning processes enable communities to plan for the long-term health of their communities and make decisions that will determine the economic viability of their communities. Many communities across the nation have taken this challenge seriously and are engaged in a process of visioning and assessment leading to strategic planning. Local decision-making can be enhanced with information and technical assistance from state and federal governments.

At the international level, Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) charged communities with formulating action plans to move toward a sustainable future.21  This process calls for the broadest possible public participation, with representatives from diverse areas coming together to define sustainability on the local level and support plans and projects that will implement their communities' visions.

As a follow-up to Agenda 21  in the United States, the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) was organized to recommend an action strategy to move the nation toward a sustainable future. One of the Council's eight task forces was the Sustainable Communities Task Force. Likewise, a Sustainable Communities Implementation Team emerged from the National Environmental Technology Strategy  developed by the National Science and Technology Council. These community visioning and assessment efforts at the national level have helped to reinforce the numerous community groups throughout the country that are achieving local successes by taking new directions and action at the local level.

Support for community visioning and assessment can be coordinated with other initiatives proposed in An Agenda for Action. Interactions with the proposed Sustainable Development Extension Network, essential learnings efforts in formal education, lifelong learning programs, and the national information clearinghouse should be fostered. Just as Goals 2000 relies extensively on community support for educational excellence, community-based educational institutions play a central role in shaping the future of communities. Recognition of the importance of education in the overall design and implementation of a community vision is a key element of this initiative.

Create a national program in partnership with organizations that may include the National Council of Mayors, the National Governors' Association, and the National Association of Counties, that will provide educational resources and leadership training in support of community visioning and assessment.

National support of visioning processes can include facilitating the exchange of ideas by providing appropriate and timely information about successful models for replication; training of leaders for visioning processes; expansion of local, regional, national, and international visioning networks; and engagement of communities across the nation in integrated, holistic approaches to long-term planning for sustainable communities. A national program such as this could include the following four components:

(1) Identifying and compiling examples of visioning processes that have been successful in communities in the United States and other nations;

(2) Designing and developing a workbook and other resource materials for dissemination to interested communities to serve as a guidebook for action and planning at the community level;

(3) Establishing a Leadership Institute for Sustainable Communities to train leaders in facilitating cooperative planning by diverse stakeholders; and

(4) Establishing a council through the proposed Sustainable Development Extension Network to coordinate efforts at the state and federal levels in support of community visioning activities.

A number of communities are in various stages of defining their future and are employing a variety of visioning approaches. A national clearinghouse could facilitate the sharing of successful strategies from communities of various sizes that are wrestling with challenges in diverse environmental and economic contexts. These successes can serve as models for communities with similar characteristics. The tasks to accomplish this include:

1.  Identifying and compiling examples of visioning processes that have been successful in communities in the United States and other nations.

2.  Designing and developing a workbook and other resource materials for dissemination to interested communities to serve as a guidebook for action and planning at the community level.

A structured workbook and other information can aid stakeholders in planning, dialogue, and information gathering at the local level. Indicators of progress or benchmarks described in the workbook could include:

3.  Establishing a Leadership Institute for Sustainable Communities to train leaders in facilitating cooperative planning by diverse stakeholders.

Key to the success of community visioning and planning are skillful leadership and advocacy by a few central figures.

4.  Establishing a council through the Sustainable Development Extension Network to coordinate efforts at the state and federal levels in support of community visioning activities.

Action 7: Workforce Development

Infuse sustainability concepts and practices into development of the U.S. workforce.


The current workforce must have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to work sustainably, and future workers need to be adequately prepared in this area prior to entering the workforce. Training for sustainability will require initiatives at the state and community levels. Workforce development is also an important concern for federal policymaking since fewer than 25 percent of our nation's population obtains a four-year university degree.
22  Solutions will require new federal policies similar to those of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act.23  Work-based learning, coupled with related academic training, can provide America's young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make an effective transition from school to a first job in a high-skill, high-wage career track.

Partnership Prepares Youth for Tomorrow's World

High school juniors and seniors in New York state's southern area are completing apprenticeships in the printing industry, thanks to a partnership spearheaded by the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Broome County. Students learn about environmental regulations that insure high standards during product design and manufacture. They also acquire the technical and social skills necessary to enter a high-performance workplace.

Partners include a number of area high schools, the Cornell Youth and Work Program at Cornell University, and the Anitec Image Corporation, a division of International Paper. By working together, the partners in this model apprenticeship program are involving young people in an industry's manufacturing, research, and development processes. Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Business Alliance in Broome County administer the program.

The transition from an agricultural to an industrial society and, more recently, to an information society have prompted changes in employment that have not been sufficiently reflected in workforce development programs. Occupations that once offered solid careers are in decline; therefore people who are planning their careers need to assess what skills will be in demand. Employment is expected to reach 147.5 million by 2005, a 12 percent rate of increase24   over the coming decade. Since job projections are clouded by uncertainties caused by unforeseen changes in technology or the balance of trade, a workforce must be developed that is readily adaptable to change.

This need for flexibility and a highly skilled workforce presents a genuine opportunity for educators. If employers are willing to pay more for highly skilled workers, then the quality of education and training should be raised. If linked effectively to careers, the proportion of good jobs can be increased. The challenge is to sustain economic vitality and the quality of life that is sometimes taken for granted.

"In the new global economy, the only resource that is really rooted in a nation-the ultimate source of all its wealth-is its people. To compete and win, our workforce must be well educated, well trained, and highly skilled."

Robert B. Reich
U.S. Department of Labor

Disseminate effective school-to-work models that emphasize issues of sustainability while encouraging dialogue with the business sector to address sustainability through hiring and recruitment practices.

Because the national school-to-work initiative is built upon business partnerships, it is important for these programs to integrate components of industry-based skill standards. In addition, although many programs are in operation, those that promote sustainability have not been identified.

As efforts like these are launched, the business community could provide job opportunities and internships for students who are studying the principles of sustainable development. Attention given to hiring and recruitment practices would help complete the cycle and secure an appropriately trained workforce.

Strengthen the partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Association of Community Colleges to support education for sustainability.

The development of partnerships with institutions of higher education that have the capacity to deliver training to large numbers of workers is of paramount importance. A partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Labor is attempting to implement a comprehensive workforce training initiative that is based in community colleges. The partnership is designed to enhance the effectiveness of the community college system in responding to the retraining needs of dislocated workers as well as incumbent workers seeking to upgrade their skills or obtain skills certification. The information resulting from this project is disseminated via the Training Technology Resource Center, operated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Use the U.S. Department of Labor's Training Technology Resource Center as the dissemination vehicle for workforce development information on programs, research, and organizations in the area of education for sustainability.

The center is an on-line information resource created by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to gather and disseminate information related to current workforce development programs and practices. This initiative would engage the department's regional offices in the identification and collection of programs, practices, and policies at the local level. Involvement of the regional offices is an important component of the Center's reinvention activities.

Training and Employment for Disadvantaged Youth in Maine

The Penobscot Job Corps Center, located in Bangor, Maine, is the first center in the country to offer a program in Waste Water Treatment. Students enter an actual "shop" environment that includes a sludge pilot plant, laboratory and maintenance shop. They are assigned a peer mentor for the first month, and they receive an array of classroom-type teaching aids. Participants study water quality and environmental issues. They learn how to determine load requirements by interpreting meter and gauge readings, how to regulate the flow of sewage by monitoring control panels and adjusting valves and gates, and how to conduct the tests required at waste water plants. A variety of completion levels are offered, along with opportunities for off-center training at three of Maine's waste water treatment plants. Students who successfully complete the training can expect a competitive salary.

About Job Corps

Job Corps is a national training and employment program administered by the Department of Labor, which serves economically disadvantaged young people between the ages of 16 and 24, primarily high school dropouts. Unique to Job Corps and key to its success is its residential program, offering students comprehensive services 24 hours a day. Job Corps operates through a partnership among government, labor, and the private sector.

Examine the feasibility within the Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network (O*NET) of collecting and disseminating information on emerging occupations in energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network is an automated replacement for the department's print-based "Dictionary of Occupational Titles."  O*NET provides a timely, easy-to-use computer database that supports national efforts to revitalize the American workforce. The database is an operational prototype for collecting, analyzing, organizing, publishing, and disseminating scientifically verified information on worker skills and job requirements. O*NET will help millions of employers, workers, educators, and students make informed decisions about education, training, and careers. It also could foster sustainability by highlighting occupations related to energy efficiency and waste reduction.

Action 8: Lifelong Learning

Encourage lifelong learning about sustainability at the individual, household, and community levels.


As commonly defined, lifelong learning is "adult education for individuals who no longer attend school on a regular, full-time basis." The term lifelong learning  encompasses adult education for vocational and professional advancement, enjoyment and leisure, and remediation for improving basic skills and knowledge needed to function as a member of a family or community. Although the concept initially focused on community colleges, the idea is spreading to public schools, institutions of higher education, community agencies, proprietary schools, and computer software developers.

The continually changing world in which we live requires that learners of all ages educate themselves throughout their lives. This need is compounded by the fact that fewer than 25 percent of the U.S. population obtains a four-year college degree. Among two-year college students enrolled as students in October 1990, 77 percent were not enrolled a year later.25  Given these statistics, many individuals must obtain skills outside the classroom.

More people than ever before are looking to various forms of lifelong learning opportunities to upgrade their skills and increase their job stability. In the 1970s, more than 80 percent of all adults were involved in self-directed learning each year, and the average adult spent 500 hours a year in either formal or nonformal learning programs.26  More than 60 million adults participated in some form of lifelong learning activities in the 1980s.27  Figures released by the College Board in 1993 demonstrate that the proportion of adult students in college enrollments has been increasing steadily over the past two decades: from about 30 percent in 1970 to 40 percent in 1980 to close to 45 percent in 1990.28 

The U.S. Department of Commerce has found that in most regions of the world, the population aged 15 to 64 is expected to grow faster than the school-age population.29  In addition, by the year 2020 people who are 60-plus in North America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union will constitute 24 percent of the population of those regions as compared with individuals from birth to 4, who will comprise 6 percent.30  These demographic changes suggest that opportunities for lifelong learning will become increasingly important.

Americans need to remain competitive in the workplace, both domestically and internationally. Continuous learning helps bolster public awareness of the changing global marketplace while encouraging individuals to be more productive and successful citizens. Technology helps adult learners gain greater control over when, where, and how they obtain new skills and knowledge. Computers and telecommunication devices provide new access to learning for remote populations, special populations such as the disabled, and workers on-site and at home.

Learning about the concept of sustainability is an ongoing process. Learning opportunities should include the essential learnings of sustainable development and the practical approaches that contribute to sustainable living.

Lifelong learning at the individual level is critical to reaching the National Education Goal's fifth objective, which states that every adult American will be literate by year 2000 and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy. 31  To keep abreast of changes in their fields and advances in technology, an increasing number of adults are taking courses to advance their careers, upgrade their skills, and enrich their lives. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that employment of adult educators is expected to grow faster than the average for other occupations as the demand for adult education programs continues to rise.32 

Many members of our nation's adult population lack the literacy and mathematical skills needed for success in modern society. Basic education for adults is an increasing concern because of low literacy levels among the adult population. In 1990, nearly one billion adults worldwide aged 15 and over were illiterate.33  The National Adult Literacy Survey of 1992 revealed that approximately 48 percent of the adults in the United States scored at the two lowest levels of literacy proficiency, i.e., indicating that they are almost illiterate. 34  Comprehensive adult literacy programs that teach out-of-school adults basic literacy and occupational skills are the most beneficial programs because they allow individuals to obtain jobs and lead more successful and satisfying lives.

Encouraging lifelong learning about sustainability at the household level depends partly on the extent to which adults are aware and pass on that knowledge. If parents are lifelong learners, children also are likely to become lifelong learners. When adults take full advantage of the many resources available in their community, they will strengthen the relationship between home and school while enhancing their own work and personal lives.

At the community level, libraries are an important force in fostering literacy skills and providing adult part-time education. Community colleges offer a valuable resource as well. Community college programs that serve the needs of the community and strengthen the education of local citizens should be identified and promoted.

Physicians for the Environment
Educating Doctors and the Public

The health care industry is educating its workforce about the environment through activities of the National Association of Physicians for the Environment (NAPE). Founded in 1992, NAPE encourages physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and veterinarians to inform patients and animal owners about the impacts of environmental pollutants on health so they understand that pollution prevention is disease prevention. Members include the American Medical Association and thirty other medical societies.

The organization has instituted a nationwide program to "green" more than 388,500 medical facilities: offices of physicians, dentists, and veterinarians; medical clinics; long-term health care facilities; laboratories; blood banks; medical schools; pharmacies; and the offices of health organizations such as the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.

Other activities include establishing environmental audits in hospitals, medical schools, and pharmaceutical companies to reduce energy consumption and medical wastes; convening conferences on environmental health issues, such as air and water pollution; emerging infectious diseases; establishing a clearinghouse and Internet home page for health information related to environmental issues; encouraging physicians to take a leadership role in their communities to educate the public about health-related environmental issues; helping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency educate physicians and the public about the UV Index developed by the National Weather Service; and involving physicians in global environmental issues such as biodiversity, e.g., by surveying the 150 most widely prescribed drugs to determine their derivation from the natural world.

NAPE could be a model for a national coalition of health professionals for the environment. Members could include organizations for nurses and health- related professionals such as epidemiologists and toxicologists; health and life insurance groups; hospitals; medical media; pharmaceutical organizations; biotechnology associations; and voluntary health organizations. Medical schools have already formed the Consortium for Environmental Education in Medicine, whose membership includes faculty members from Boston University, Brown, Harvard, Massachusetts, Tufts and Rhode Island medical schools.

Vision into Action
Software for Understanding Sustainability

A promising computer software program for lifelong learning about sustainability is currently under development. "Vision into Action," is aimed at helping individuals and families move from a broad-brush understanding of global sustainability to a comprehension of its meaning in their own lives and communities.

Users work through a personal, family, and community assessment and visioning process. A number of success stories and models of sustainability are documented that can be adapted by individuals for use in their own lives, businesses, and organizations. They also can enter data to track their own progress toward sustainability.

The developers welcome submission of examples from communities and families. Once development is completed, the "Vision into Action" program will be available from the Global Action and Information Network in Santa Cruz, California.

Develop community college courses and programs aimed at producing the skills and information needed for contributing to sustainable activities at work and during leisure activities.

Courses should highlight retraining on practical skills and the changing role of technology. Continued efforts by nonprofit groups, civic organizations, and the business community are needed to ensure that needs responding to a vision of healthy, prosperous neighborhoods and communities are being identified and met.

Reaching Out -- Promoting Community Sustainability

The Center for Better Communities, headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a relatively new nonprofit organization comprised of planners, architects, and concerned citizens who strive to create better, and more livable communities. The Center functions as a resource for information on new visions for designing communities. Founders of the organization say that one of their key roles is initiating and facilitating discussion of fresh alternatives to existing development patterns in order to address issues of diversity, equity, and a healthy, prosperous future.

Workshops, conferences, training, and other services are used to raise awareness and inform the public, elected officials, educators, and other professionals. A seminar series entitled "Re-inventing the Environmental Agenda" serves as a community forum for discussing current environmental issues and highlights examples of how ordinary people, locally and globally, are taking the lead in achieving sustainability. The Center's over-riding goal is community capacity-building, i.e., nurturing the ability for people to problem solve responsibly as a community.

"I believe that sustainability is the organizing principle -- both context and framework -- for environmental literacy?.  It merges education and application, so learning becomes a way of life for taking personal responsibility -- together -- for all decisions that affect the environment. The essential building blocks for sustainability are our daily lifestyle choices."

Ramona K. Mullahey
Center for Better Communities


A range of educational opportunities and venues must be tapped as tools for raising public awareness and knowledge of sustainability. More attention must be directed to these tools -- how they are developed and how they are used -- by the business and nonprofit sectors as well as those whose primary mission is education. Current research reveals that Americans are increasingly concerned about the needs of future generations.35  The challenge is to work to sustain quality of life and a healthy environment.

Examples of Opportunities for Partnerships

The American Association of Community Colleges
One Dupont Circle, N.W. Suite 410
Washington, D.C. 20036
Contact: James McKenney
Phone: 202-728-0200

The American Association of Community Colleges serves the interests of the nation's two-year colleges; ensuring that the achievements, capacities, and interests of the colleges are recognized and understood among U.S. Congress, The White House, and federal agencies. It also collaborates with national higher education associations, trade associations, and other groups that represent the constituencies that are important to local colleges. The association's role encompasses advocacy, policy initiatives, research, educational services, and coordination.

Center for Better Communities
PO Box 1348
Honolulu, HI 96807
Contact: Ramona Mullahey or Alex Neuhold
Phone: 808-533-0777
Fax: 808-528-4217

The Center for Better Communities is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational resource organization, founded in 1995, whose mission is to foster research, thought, and action in support of quality environments and more livable communities.

The Consortium for Environmental Education in Medicine (CEEM)
17 Monsignor O'Brien Highway
Cambridge, MA 02141
Contact: Madaleine R. Ochinang
Phone: 617-227-8901
Fax: 617-227-0104

The Consortium for Environmental Education in Medicine is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing human health by understanding its relation to the environment. CEEM is working on a systematic effort to bring environment and health perspectives into medical education.

Cornell Cooperative Extension
358 Roberts Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Contact: Benjamin Wood
Phone: 607-255-2231
Fax: 607-255-0788

The Cornell Cooperative Extension System links research, knowledge, and technology to the needs of individuals, families, businesses, and communities throughout New York State. The systems purpose is to provide economic, social, environmental, and agricultural education.

Voluntary Pollution Prevention Programs

B142 Steenbock Library
Madison, WI 53706
Contact: Gary W. Jackson
Phone: 608-262-0024
Fax: 608-265-2775

Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst is a successful partnership between government and industry that meets the pollution challenges posed by farms and other rural resources. The program's formula of education, self-assessment, and action plans motivates rural landowners to voluntary action.

The Foundation for the Future of Youth
11426 Rockville Pike, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20852
Contact: David Pines
Phone: 301-468-9431
Fax: 301-468-9612

The Foundation for the Future of Youth is an idea-generating and problem-solving organization working with young people to develop a vision for their future and the mechanisms for realizing that vision. The foundation offers innovative thinking, strategic resources, and visionary leadership for building healthy environments. The foundation coordinates U.S. activities for the global action project spawned from Rescue Mission: Planet Earth, a young persons version of Agenda 21 .;

National Association of Physicians for the Environment (NAPE)
6410 Rockledge Drive, Suite 412
Bethesda, MD 20817
Contact : Betty Farley
Phone: 301-571-9791
Fax: 301-530-8910

NAPE, a nonprofit organization, works with the national medical specialties and subspecialties, with national, state, and local medical societies, and local medical societies, and with individual physicians to deal with the impacts of environmental pollutants on the organs, systems, or disease processes best known to them. NAPE also informs patients and the public about the impact of pollutants and the necessary health steps that should be taken to reduce or eliminate those pollutants.

O*NET: The Occupational Information Network
Office of Policy and Research
Employment and Training Administration, N5637
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C. 20210
Phone: 202-219-7161 x130

O*NET is the automated replacement for the print-based Dictionary of Occupational Titles. It provides a timely, easy-to-use computer database that supports national efforts to revitalize the American workforce. O*NET is an operational prototype for collecting, analyzing, organizing, publishing, and disseminating scientifically verified, worker skill and job requirement information.

Penobscot Job Corps Center
1375 Union Street
Bangor, ME 04401
Contact: Greg Dumonthier
Phone: 207-990-3000 x168
Fax: 207-942-9829

Job Corps is the nations largest residential education and training program for disadvantaged youth. The program provides occupational exploration, world of work and social skills training, and competency-based vocational and basic education. Participants in Penobscot Job Corps Center's Waste Water Treatment program study water quality and environmental issues from the perspective of waste water treatment.

President's Council on Sustainable Development
730 Jackson Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20503
Contact: Angela Park
Phone: 202-408-5296
Fax: 202-408-6839

The PCSD was established by President Clinton in 1993 -- a unique mix of 25 individuals representing business, labor, environmental, civil rights, tribal, and local leaders along with members of the President's Cabinet. The PCSD's mission is to develop a "national sustainable development action strategy that will foster economic vitality while protecting our natural and cultural resources." The PCSD produced a report that outlines the first steps the nation needs to take in order to move toward a more sustainable future.

Rescue Mission
The White House
Buntingford, Herts SG9 9AH
United Kingdom
Phone: (+44) 176-327-4459
Fax : (+44) 176-327-4460

Rescue Mission works throughout the world bringing innovative thinking, strategic resources, and leadership to our young people and youth workers to develop and realize a vision for their future.

School-to-Work Opportunities Act
The National School to Work Office
400 Virginia Avenue, S.W., Suite 210
Washington, D.C. 20024
Contact: J.D. Hoye
Phone: 202-401-6222
Fax: 202-401-6211

The purpose of this Act is to establish a national framework within which all states can create statewide school-to-work opportunities systems that are a part of comprehensive education reform; are integrated with the systems developed under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the National Skill Standards Act of 1994; offer opportunities for all students to participate in a performance-based education and training program that will enable them to earn portable credentials: prepare the students for first jobs in high-skill, high-wage careers; and increase their opportunities for further education, including education in a four-year college or university.

Training Technology Resource Center
Room N6507
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C. 20210
Contact: Brian Shea
Phone: 1-800-488-0901

The Training Technology Resource Center was created by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to provide information on workforce development models, new initiatives, and emerging policies. Its mission is to serve as an electronic point of access to a wide range of workforce development information and to promote information sharing throughout the Employment and Training Community. The center accomplishes this by collecting and disseminating information on subjects like "one-stop career center systems," emerging training and learning technologies.

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES)

Aerospace Building, Room #329C
Ag Box 2210
Washington, D.C. 20250-2210
Contact: Greg Crosby, National Program Leader
Phone: 202-401-6050
Fax: 202-401-1706

Vision Into Action Program
Global Action and Information Network
740 Front Street, Suite 355
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Contact: Bill Leland
Phone: 408-457-0130
Fax: 408-457-0133

The Vision Into Action Program is an interactive program to encourage individuals to act in their personal lives and communities for sustainability. The program guides people in setting goals, selecting appropriate actions, and monitoring progress toward sustainability.

Go to Chapter 2  Go to Chapter 4  Return to Table of Contents