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The Sustainable Backpack

The Sustainable Backpack was a national priory initiated by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Climate and Environment to support Norwegian schools to implement Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The Directorate for Education and Training and The Norwegian Environment Agency was given the responsibility of implementing the Sustainable Backpack in concert with the Norwegian Center for Science Education.

The Sustainable backpack organization

Since the Sustainable backpack was launched in 2009, it was administered, carried out and developed by the Norwegian Center for Science Education. In later years a resource group consisting of six science teacher educators collaborates with the center in the work supervising and train teachers in ESD.

The main aim of the Sustainable backpack was to increase awareness, understanding and competencies in and for sustainable development to teachers and students in primary and secondary education.

Schools could apply the Sustainable backpack for support (financial and teacher training) to develop and implement sustainable development projects or programs. By attending the Sustainable backpack the teachers became a part of a professional learning community for ESD. In these networks, teachers met other teachers and their supervisors three times a year. There was a national conference for all teachers one time each year, followed up by regional network meetings in the autumn and spring. At these network meetings, the teachers got scientific (relevant science topics) and pedagogical content training in addition to supervision of the ESD projects or programs they developed and conducted at their school.

Requirements for ESD projects or programs supported by the Sustainable backpack were that the teaching was inquiry-based and inter- or multidisciplinary, and that part of the teaching was carried out in alternative learning arenas (outside the classroom). The schools were also encouraged to collaborate with external partners like the local community, NGOs, museums, and businesses in their local community. Requirements for the teachers participating in the Sustainable Backpack were that they participate in the national conference and the two network meetings. In addition, they were obliged to describe their project/program so it could be communicated to others. The obligation to the school (school leader) was to facilitate for the teachers to meet and work inter- or multidisciplinary at the school and to make a plan for a permanent establishment of the project/program at the school.


Reports on some results from the survey and interviews contributed to the Sustainable Backpack:

Researchers at the Norwegian Center for Science Education have reported on how the Sustainable backpack has succeeded in implementing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Norwegian schools. An abstract from one of these presentations and the presentation of the results are linked on the right.

Researchers at the Norwegian Center for Science Education have also reported on how a rural secondary school in Norway, supported by the Sustainable Backpack has implemented Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). An abstract from one of these presentations and the presentation of the results are linked on the right.