Leandra  Michel

Empowering Swiss Teachers and Students to Implement Education for Sustainable Development

Sensing the system

Today’s youth will be facing the results from unsustainable development of their previous generations. Their empowerment for creating a more sustainable future is crucial. To make this possible, students want and need to learn about sustainable development in their secondary education and their secondary teachers play a key role. Although the concept for this, the UN education for sustainable development (ESD), was integrated into the Swiss curriculum 21, teachers face many challenges in its implementation. Thus, before learners can be empowered, educators themselves need to be empowered. While understanding teacher’s challenges, the missing interdisciplinary approach to ESD emerged as a key issue. However, for students to get a holistic view on ESD, an interdisciplinary approach is crucial. From the dynamics of different system elements, three key problem areas hindering teachers to interdisciplinary ESD implementation emerged:


  • teachers awareness and knowledge on the ESD concept, – the interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange among teachers,
  • and teachers collaborative idea generation
  • and initiation of such new initiatives thereby preventing a holistic, systemic perspective on ESD issues.


The strategy

A design intervention was developed, together with secondary teachers, which facilitates these three key areas so that they are supported in implementing ESD across disciplines. The result is online tool, an ESD lesson design and planning tool, that helps teachers to design and plan interdisciplinary sustainability (ESD) lessons. It supports them to identify and access interdisciplinary ESD possibilities easily, offers corresponding lesson ideas and material, and promotes collaborative idea generation and coordination with other teachers. Teachers can integrate their lesson plans and ideas, share it with their colleagues and coordinate them simultaneously. The main focus of the tool lies on emphasizing the interdisciplinary ESD possibilities for each subject and make them reality by enabling its coordination. It helps ensure that the secondary students learn about ESD topics from different perspectives to comprehend their complexity.



The lesson design a planning tool helps teachers recognize the possibilities and potential of interdisciplinary lesson ideas and planning for their students. It facilitates teacher’s awareness of the concept, their collaboration and exchange, and collaborative idea generation and inspiration regarding ESD approaches and topics. Teachers get supported to involve ESD already when planning their lessons and can benefit from each other’s subject expertise and synergies for ESD. Thus, it empowers teachers to think about ESD teaching in a collective rather than individual manner and implement the complex concept of ESD within their teaching.

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