General Overview

Time Commitment and Costs

Key Dates

Who is this program for?

Can I get CEUs?

How does earning CEUs work?

If I am not within commuting distance from Long Beach or Sonoma State, can I still participate in the program? If I am a k-6 educator, but want to participate in the Sonoma State program, can I? Or, if I am a 6-12 educator, but want to participate in the Long Beach program, can I?

What are sustainability-focused action projects, and how do they fit into all disciplines?

What is an action showcase?

What competencies will I develop as an educator through participation in this program?

What deliverables will I be developing throughout this program?

What is sustainability and ecoliteracy?

What is global competence?

What are pedagogies that invite active citizenship?

I already do Project Based Learning in my classroom- is this a good fit for me?

How does this program align with common LCAP goals?

What is a Sustainable Communities Action Project (SCAP)?

How is the SCAP Standards-Aligned?  

Why do we investigate global issues, and take action locally?  

Who can I contact if I have more specific questions?

General Overview

In the 5-day institute, participants will collaborate with academics and professionals to develop knowledge about environmental principles and sustainability, and learn about how to develop students’ global competence and eco-literacy through the design of a standards-aligned “Sustainable Communities Action Project.” Over the course of 5 days, participants will engage in learning activities that prepare them to use design thinking and other developmentally-appropriate strategies that address equity and inspire authentic, context-relevant learning. During the institute, teachers will commit to participating in a local showcase with their students; options include attending one of several identified local showcases/youth summits or collaborating to design their own. In addition to learning and collaborating with academics and community professionals, teachers will have planning time to design and align their project with curriculum and standards.


Time Commitment and Costs

Outside of the five institute days (contained during the summer or spread out during the school year) that require teachers' full participation, optional support is available during the school year for teachers to implement their plans and guide students in their Sustainable Communities Action Projects. Based on their professional learning plans and goals, teachers will determine whether they need ongoing support as part of the learning community; mentoring/coaching around implementing the action project, and/or fieldwork experience. Teachers commit to developing or entering an existing student showcase for students to exhibit their action projects.

We will support educators in setting up fieldwork experiences, working with local organizations and partners, and finding additional resources to learn more about the issues they cover in their action project with students. The cost for participation in this program depends on the regional site (please refer to your regional flier). Program materials, refreshments, and parking costs will be covered during the summer institute. All participants will have to arrange their own transportation to and from the institute. Stipends may be provided to participants who complete the program deliverables by the end of the school year.

For this program, the out-of-state registration fee is $500 (without accommodations), travel and accommodations will be the participant's responsibility.


Key Dates

April 30th: Priority deadline for all applications

June 10-13 & Dec. 7, 2019: San Diego Institute for K-12 Educators (8-3:00)

June 24 – 28, 2019 & Jan. 12, 2020: Long Beach Institute for K-12 Educators (8:30 - 3)

June 25 – 28, 2019: Fullerton Institute for Educators

June 10 – 14, 2019: Sonoma Institute for Educators

June 10 - 14, 2019: Bay Area Institute

September-January: Educators can opt to engage in follow-up support

February-June: Teachers prepare and bring students to a local showcase of action projects


Who is this program for?

Sustainable communities are those that value and embrace social, economic and ecological diversity. As such, we are looking for diverse representation amongst teacher participants and the students they teach. We will tailor content, case studies and resources to the group’s needs, and will focus on strategies for increasing equity and engaging at risk students including students from vulnerable populations; including low income families, foster youth, students of color, undocumented students and LGBTQ-identifying students.

We encourage applications from teachers who work in schools that embrace environmental and outdoor education, project based learning, community-based learning, global learning and alternative assessments as core to their ethos. Green schools, academies focused on environmental and/or global studies, and Linked Learning schools are encouraged to apply.


Can I earn CEUs?

Yes- teachers can earn Continuing Education units (CEUs) through the College of Extended Studies at San Diego State University.

Teachers can apply to earn 5 CEUs at the total cost of $175 by registering online during the institute and paying SDSU directly. To earn these units, teachers must sign in daily and successfully complete the program deliverables. These units will be awarded at the end of the program by late Spring 2019.


What are sustainability-focused action projects, and how do they fit into all disciplines?

All educators want to make learning authentic and relevant for students; we are all indigenous to planet earth, and therefore, applying our learning to the protection of our planet and the rights of our fellow human beings is a compelling challenge that positions students as heroes of their own stories, and makes learning come to life. Teachers of any discipline can leverage the content and skills taught in their classes to give students an opportunity to apply their learning in alignment with the greater good.


What is a student showcase?

There are many festivals, summits, exhibitions, showcases and other events around the state where students can share what they have learned through an action project. A showcase serves as a site for sharing reflections on the process and outcomes. Showcases can take place at schools, district or county offices, universities, or in the community.


What competencies will I develop as an educator through participation in this program?

Teachers will develop knowledge and skills related to:

  • Understanding global conditions and current events

  • Creating a classroom environment that values diversity and engagement

  • Experiential learning to understand multiple cultures and perspectives

  • Promoting equity and social justice

  • Integrating learning experiences that promote content-aligned explorations of the world

  • Developing local partnerships that provide real world contexts for global learning opportunities

  • Developing and using appropriate methods of inquiry to assess students’ global competence development


What is expected from me throughout this program?

  • During the summer institute, teachers will have time, resources, and support to design a sustainable communities action project plan, including general lesson plans and a timeline for the project implementation

  • Over the course of the year, teachers will document (with help from CISP) the outcomes of their lessons and project implementation leading up to the student showcase, especially as they relate to building global competence and eco-literacy

  • As this is a professional learning community, teachers will reflect (through check-ins and/or written reflections) on their own growth as educators empowering eco-literate global citizens and share their reflections with others


What is sustainability and eco-literacy?

The UNESCO site on Education for Sustainable Development reminds us that, “the message of sustainability is not ‘new’; it can be summarized into three main themes that help bring all disciplinary learning together under one umbrella: a) all living systems are connected b) human quality of life is just as important as economic development c) there can be no long-term economic development without attention to human development and the quality of the environment. Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. There are three main pillars: economic, environmental and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits.

These ideas are central to the wisdom and values that inform ways of living sustainably that have characterized indigenous and farming peoples in many parts of the world for thousands of years.” Eco-literate students have the knowledge, awareness, and ability to make decisions that promote health and well-being for themselves and their communities without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.


What is global competence?

Global competence is a set of dispositions or skills that all young people need to navigate a rapidly changing world. These competencies, which are practiced throughout the summer institute and will be built into your action project, are framed by the domains of Investigating the World, Recognizing Perspectives, Communicating Ideas and Taking Action. Please refer to the CISP website’s resource page for more information on global competence.


What are pedagogies that invite active citizenship?

Design thinking, project-based learning, interdisciplinary learning, place based learning, community-based learning, participatory action research, action research, socratic inquiry, storytelling, values-based education, enquiry learning, future problem solving, experiential learning, learning outside the classroom, community-based problem solving (and more!) position students to develop the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to a sustainable future, including global competence and eco-literacy. Through these practices, teaching and learning are used to empower and inspire students to see themselves as lifelong, active global citizens in their communities.


I already do Project Based Learning in my classroom. Is this a good fit for me?

Yes! Project based learning invites students into a sustained inquiry process that ends in developing a public product that is shared beyond the classroom. Designing a Sustainable Communities Action Project follows many of the same principles and serves as a public product that intentionally considers students’ problem solving interests in alignment with local, national, and global policy and solutions.


How does this program align with common LCAP goals?

This program will help educators meet common LCAP Goals including:

  • Increase academic learning through use of action-oriented pedagogy; project based learning, design thinking and action research

  • Increase attendance through authentic student engagement

  • Increase (stakeholder) parent and community involvement through design of a standards-aligned Sustainable Communities Action Project

  • Contribute to positive school climate culture through a standards-aligned action project that allows for the application of disciplinary learning to the development of sustainable, healthy and equitable communities

This summer, we will set educators up to document their teaching and learning metrics around these goals.


What is a Sustainable Communities Action Project (SCAP)?

The Sustainable Communities Action Project is a sustained and collaborative effort to learn about an issue or outcome related to human sustainability on the planet; students develop a solution aimed to advance the sustainability of our local and global community. Teachers will design their SCAP during the 5-day summer institute, and implement the SCAP over the course of the 2018-2019 school year. More on what the SCAP is:

  • A sustained inquiry process that requires students to think deeply about challenges; learning to see themselves as lifelong learners and active citizens

  • Students consult directly with people actively involved in overcoming identified challenges

  • Creates space for students to connect with the community and see community spaces and people as an extension of the classroom

  • Creates space for students to investigate local policy and take actions that align with policy

  • Creates space for students to work in groups, and also to reflect on their own place in the community and the world; students practice and develop their individual agency and group agency when it comes to overcoming challenges

  • Connects project to global goals for sustainable development, enabling students to identify global patterns around their issue

  • Considers ecological and social justice in the planning of an action

  • Impact is measured by how well students’ actions serve and follow the leadership of the people impacted by the issue  


How is the SCAP Standards-Aligned?

In the 5-day institute, we will explore ways that your standards and frameworks connect to global competence, eco-literacy and issues of sustainability. Sustainability education is an overarching and global concept that cuts across and unifies all disciplines, offering pathways for integrated projects and collaboration across disciplines. In addition, we will make explicit connections between this project and your efforts to prepare students to be college and career ready including:

  • identifying personal goals

  • utilizing critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

  • reflecting on responsibilities as a citizen

  • working productively in teams while integrating cultural and global competence

  • demonstrate creativity and innovation

  • employ valid and reliable research strategies

  • understand the environmental, social and economic impacts of decisions


Why do we investigate global issues, and take action locally?   

As UNESCO states, “Individuals, families and community groups are best placed to tackle global issues at the local level – and it is at the local level that teachers, schools and students can also learn skills for building a sustainable future.”

One of the primary purposes of this project is for students to think critically about an issue and the challenges surrounding it. We look at ourselves and our own local landscapes because we have more entry points for authentically engaging and understanding an issue; students have more access to firsthand information and the capacity to take the types of direct actions that allow them to develop agency and empathy.  

As students understand how personal and local issues and solutions also manifest globally, they learn that acting locally does indeed serve communities beyond their own local community. This concept of thinking globally and acting locally allows educators to think about developmentally appropriate ways to bring the complexity of the world to our classrooms. Ultimately, acting locally inspires grassroots solutions, and helps build community support for our schools and students.  

To practice and develop agency, students need to see themselves as actors in the broader community. In the SCAP, educators explicitly make space for students to see their action projects in relation to local policy, national and global goals for society. By connecting learning to what is happening in the wider community, students grow personally, develop relationships with people outside their school and families, and gather new ideas that can be applied to their own experience, or within their school communities.  


Who can I contact if I have more specific questions?

Please contact the CISP Regional Director for specifics about the program that interests you. Questions about the CISP signature program can be directed to Program Manager Stephanie Duran or Executive Director Emily Schell.