Statement of Purpose
Friends schools have a special obligation to include environmental education in their programs in order to promote a sustainable future for all life. Our students should learn how they can best understand, preserve, and restore the natural processes, resources, and beauty so vital to the earth and to humankind's physical and spiritual health. These goals grow directly from fundamental Quaker beliefs and testimonies:
Peace and Justice: Environmental degradation contributes to world disease, poverty, and despair. Without fertile soil, clean water and air, sufficient space, and adequate access to natural resources (renewable and non-renewable), people will not have the food, health, employment, and living conditions that will enable them to live in peace and dignity. A deteriorating natural environment thus becomes an important focus for Friends as they seek social justice and equity, and address root causes of violence in the world.
Simplicity: Quakers value simplicity. A simple lifestyle uses fewer of the earth's natural resources, reducing the human impact upon our planet's natural endowment and vital processes. 'Live simply that others might simply live' sums it up.
Stewarship and Service: Friends' schools strive to develop good people as well as good students. Stewardship through valuing and actively caring for the natural world should be central to a Friends' education. Friends have long had a reverence for living things and a belief in 'that of God' in every person. This conviction impels Quakers to treat the natural world with love and respect, supporting the conditions needed for its health. Friends schools need to take the lead in educating their students to be the earth's protectors and stewards.
Important Components of Environmental Education in Quaker Schools
We must strive to build an active and environmentally knowledgeable community of children, teachers, and administrators. Each school will approach in different ways the task of helping all its students to develop a sense of their place in the natural world. The components of an environmental education program might include age-appropriate activities to help our communities to:
- Appreciate the beauty and fascination of the natural world, especially through outdoor experiences;
- Learn the ecological processes that sustain all living things, e.g. the needs of plants and animals, the importance of proper habitats, nutrient and water cycles, energy flow through ecosystems, population dynamics, and symbiosis;/
- Learn the roles that all living things play in maintaining the health of the planet's ecosystems;
- Learn how human behavior can lead to environmental problems. Topics might include air, soil, and water pollution; acid rain, ozone depletion, global climate change, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, human population growth, over-exploitation of non-renewable and commonly-owned natural resources, and the impact of high-consumption life styles;
- Learn how to live sustainably and in environmentally friendly ways as well as learn how to work constructively and effectively to encourage others to do so. Projects might include promoting recycling, developing energy, soil, and water conservation projects; reducing resource consumption, and providing input to local environmental decision-making;
- Develop a sense of personal responsibility for the stewardship of our planet;
- Work towards developing plans to make school grounds and facilities more environmentally friendly in the use of resources and overall impact;
- Develop personal and institutional codes of environmental ethics.