The Complex Landscape of Education in 2023

“The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” —Sydney J. Harris

In our quest to create a more just, sustainable, livable world, it’s hard to imagine anything more vital than ensuring widespread access to high-quality education. Yet our educational institutions are being stripped of necessary funding and attacked by agenda-chasing politicians. From the imperative need for comprehensive environmental education to the controversies surrounding book bans and the discourse on critical race theory, the path toward educational stability in the U.S. is filled with potholes. 
In the midst of these complexities, dedicated leaders are actively working to reshape education, ensuring equitable access to knowledge and a brighter future for all. Explore their stories below.

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Ilana Cohen – The Time for Fossil-Free Research is Now

Ilana Cohen is a lead organizer of the Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard campaign and the international Fossil Free Research movement, which combats the fossil fuel industry’s dangerous influence on academia. In her presentation, Ilana discusses how we need to evolve the fossil fuel divestment movement to the next level by holding universities and academia broadly accountable to fully separate from Big Oil’s influence.

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Hear more from Taylor Brorby here.

Beyond Benign Is Changing How Chemical Products Are Made Through Green Chemistry Education

From life-saving pharmaceutical drugs to high-performance materials, chemicals and chemical products are essential in providing society the products it requires to survive and thrive. But the creation and use of many chemical products is hazardous to people and the environment. In order to ensure a habitable future planet, the field of chemistry must adapt and find new ways to be sustainable as well as economical.

Beyond Benign’s cofounders, Dr. Amy Cannon and Dr. John Warner, are challenging educational institutions and the chemical industry at large to adopt green chemistry practices. Green Chemistry is defined as the design of chemical products that reduce the use or generation of hazardous substances. By supporting educators and students to teach and learn green chemistry and sustainable science, Beyond Benign is equipping the next generation of scientists and citizens with the tools required to design and select products that support human health and the environment.

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EXPLORE: Indigeneity Curriculum

The Bioneers Indigeneity Program is the go-to source for accurate and contemporary information about Indigenous science, media, and curriculum for social change.

To support the use of Bioneers’ original content in the classroom, we’ve developed thematic discussion guides and curriculum bundles aligned with national standards for grades 9-12+. Each bundle includes teacher instructions, activities, assessment, and additional materials for a week of instruction around a set of themes. All lesson plan objectives and activities are aligned to high school standards for science, social studies/history, and English.

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Amara Ifeji – Storytelling for Social Change

Amara Ifeji mobilized a grassroots effort to address racism in her high school in Maine, at age 14. She also developed a love for the mountains and woods around her, but she saw her passions for the environment and racial justice as distinct until she heard youth of color like herself share their experiences working at this intersection and realized these struggles were completely intertwined. She shares how this awakening shaped her subsequent work as a remarkably effective organizer and advocate who centers storytelling to advance environmental justice, climate education, and outdoor learning for ALL youth.

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Ten Strands Empowers California’s Schools to Lead the Way in Environmental Education

While climate change and environmental instability will impact people of all ages in the coming years, our planet’s youngest citizens will shoulder the heaviest burdens. As the environment influences nearly all of today’s pursuits — from the stories we tell to the chemicals we use in labs to the products we create, consume, and throw away — providing young students with an education that incorporates environmental literacy has never been more important.

Ten Strands is a California–based nonprofit established in 2012. Their mission is to build and strengthen the partnerships and strategies that will bring environmental literacy to all of California’s K–12 public school students. They operate with a small, diverse, and nimble staff and strategic partners throughout the state. Ten Strands utilizes the largest and most diverse institution in California—the public school system—to impact 58 county offices of education, more than 1,000 school districts, approximately 10,000 individual schools, over 300,000 teachers, and 5.8 million children.

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The Guardian: Kimberlé Crenshaw warns against rightwing battle over critical race theory

Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor and co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, is a leading voice on critical race theory. In this article from the Guardian, she warns that the rightwing battle against racial justice education not only threatens US democracy, but encourages a revival of segregationist values and policies.
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Upcoming Bioneers Learning Courses & Community Conversations

Through engaging courses and conversations led by some of the world’s foremost movement leaders, Bioneers Learning and Community Conversations equip engaged citizens and professionals like you with the knowledge, tools, resources and networks to initiate or deepen your engagement, leading to real change in your life and community.

Upcoming Bioneers Learning Courses:

  • Slowing Down: Cultivating Healing Spaces of Belonging | Starting September 26 | An experiential session featuring mindful and creative practices designed to help us slow down, heal and collectively receive our greatest wisdoms.
  • The Rights of Nature | Starting October 19 | A full background on the emerging “rights of nature” movement in the United States and internationally and how to develop, adopt, and enforce local rights of nature laws in your own communities.
  • Honoring Your Emotional Ecosystem | Starting November 14 | A grounded and surprising exploration of the healing genius in your emotional realm.

Upcoming Community Conversations:

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