ESD-based Education

The OPEDUCA Project proposed a new paradigm for ESD in 2004 by basing education on sustainable development, acknowledging the transmissive and realising the transformative value of education.

Education for Sustainable Development as the foundation or (formal) Education i.e. Schooling



At present there are differences of opinion … for all people do not agree as to the things that the young ought to learn, either with a view to virtue or with a view to the best life, nor is it clear whether their studies should be regulated more with regard to intellect or character. Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Then as it is now, despite promising efforts by institutions set in place and the major programs they initiated, our formal education is still partly at a loss while the promise of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has not lived up to its potential. We observed numerous efforts trying to press ESD into the system, seeking a place under the sun by add-on projects, the listing of competences and too many playful adaptions of Environmental Education. The OPEDUCA-concept was the first application of a vision to base (formal) education on ESD.
And still is today.

A ongoing tread through the entire educational system

Continuous Learning-pathways

The best way to achieve a more sustainable society is through the continuous development of the young. They should have every chance to learn about those themes that will define a more sustainable future. Therefore The OPEDUCA Project aims at the creation and implementation of on-going learning processes as a tread throughout the formal educational system. We no longer think in a stacked and fragmented structure of schooling, see the line from primary up to and including higher education as an on-going process, bridging schooling with the world of work and leading to livelong learning.

On future defining themes

Derived from the Dimensions of Sustainable Development

The Dimensions of (Education for) Sustainable Development offer a not-anthropocentric holistic approach to thematically guide education. The simple embedded model builds on the notion that within a maintainable ecology a fair spread of existential means, well-being, is the only base for accepting differences in welfare (Eussen, 2007). It is seen to prioritize phenomena following their natural chronological sequence and from there their causal relations and inter-dependencies in order to achieve a better understanding of values.

building 'We' through the 'I'

Starting out from the Individual Learner

Following the conviction the individual is also central to sustainable development, it is eventually the individual's behaviour from which (un)sustainable development springs, seeing humanity as the constitution of the individuals it comprises and regarding learning as a natural contribute, ESD is essentially a matter of the individual, is personal. Therefor the OPEDUCA-concept realises ESD first (and per definition) as individual learning for sustainable development. Each human, beginning at youngest age when learning is still natural to life, should have unlimited opportunity to look at life as it is and unfolds, learn anytime, anyplace, with anybody and through any device about those themes that will most prominently define its own and our common future.

We can feed and stimulate a persons' learning through an educational process. When we organise and prescribe that educating, put it in boxes, frames and regulations, we consequently have to face the shortcomings of our attempts to institutionalise. Trying to built ESD from such structures and institutions is a strategic error of the academic discourse, governmental policies and practices thus far. 

connecting sources of education

In a Local-to-Global Learning Reality

The students’ understanding of one’s own region is seen as a composing part of global society. Therefore the concept expands the working of the various instruments to enable students to study the fabric of society from local to global, learning from educational sources beyond one’s own region, gradually growing understanding of a global reality and citizenship. 

Understanding that social consensus on what is considered (un-)sustainable and what constitutes progress can differ across cultures, countries and regions, it is an essential component of ESD to have students experience how objective the ‘knowing’ about these is, if (normative) valuations play a role, how people (re-)act towards sustainability.

Todays' youth are obviously requested to not only understand the interconnected world in which they live and the complexities of the global challenges faced, but also see a way forward and become competent to interact and bring about effective change.

Students cannot be ‘taught’ a worldview from out an academic ivory tower,
but they can be guided to develop one in their daily educational practice,
a mission however which takes people with personality and understanding,
wrought in life’s practical reality, tried and assessed in the world themselves.
Such qualities cannot be arranged by building further structures and the reshuffling of roles in institutions, not commanded by research strange to life itself.

Jos Eussen (2021)

Further Features of ESD-based Education

as prerequisite and consequence formal education and schooling can face the future

Thus far loosely mostly seperately organised prioritized and (thereto) assembled educations in the realm of STEM, Environment, Entrepreneurship, Languages and Citizenship become natural parts of an integrated whole. 

Schools are re-established as Nexus of Learning in regional society

Knowledge- Skill-development leading to Competences goes hand in hand with student-driven Value Development

Assembled Educations
become an integrated whole

Presently seperately positioned and organised educations such as in the realm of STEM, Entrepreneurship and Environmental Education, become natural parts of a transdisciplinary whole.

Learn more about the natural integration of formerly stand-alone educations

Schools are re-established as Nexus of Learning in regional Society


The OPEDUCA-project and -concept deliver on the transformative promise of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by placing it at the base of schooling. The framework gradually composed to find the place, meaning and added value of ESD positions it as the transformative promise of education itself, its integrative quality a foundation instead of a goal. 

ESD-based Education sees to activated students studying future defining themes through critical inquiry in a both regional and global setting. The themes, derived from the Dimensions of (Education for) Sustainable Development, base ongoing learning pathways throughout the formal system of schooling. Students study these themes anytime, with anybody, at any place and through any device, their school a nexus of learning processes within the social-demographic region in which they grow up. The learning processes reach into society by ways of Flight for Knowledge with an emphasis on youngsters' capacity to turn thinking into action through BusinessClass. Each Open Educational Region (OPEDUCA) comprising the students' learning, their teachers, Partners in Education and educational sources, then continuously interlinked with regions around the world, manifesting a local-to-global learning space

Learn more about an OPEDUCA- and therewith ESD-based School

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