Earth science education as a key component of education for sustainability

Clara Vasconcelos, Nir Orion

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Environmental insight has emerged as a new scientific concept which incorporates the understanding that the Earth is made up of interworking subsystems and the acceptance that humans must act in harmony with the Earth’s dynamic balanced cycle. This Earth system competency represents the highest level of knowing and understanding in the geosciences community. Humans have an important role as participative beings in the Earth’s subsystems, and they must therefore acknowledge that life on Earth depends on a geoethically responsible management of the Earth system. Yet, the world is far from achieving sustainable development, making the role of the Earth science education in promoting education for sustainability even more relevant. The Earth system approach to education is designed to be an effective learning tool for the development of the innovative concept of environmental insight. Through a holistic view of planet Earth, students realize that humans have the ability to enjoy a sustainable life on our planet while minimising detrimental environmental impacts. There is growing evidence that citizens value science and need to be informed about Earth system problems such as climate change, resource efficiency, pandemics, sustainable use of water resources, and how to protect bio-geodiversity. By moving away from both traditional practices and traditional perceptions, environmental insight and geoethics will lead towards an education for sustainability that provides the citizens of Earth with the tools they need to address the full complexity of its urgent environmental concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1316
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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