Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable World: A Systems Thinking Approach

About the Course

This course is also available as an on-site workshop at your school.  Click here to request info.

Course Overview

This is a seven-week cohort-based, (mostly) asynchronous, facilitator guided course, using both independent and collaborative learning methods. Participants will explore the concept of sustainability with specific emphasis on the role of education and the use of systems thinking to enhance student learning. Systems thinking tools and methods will be demonstrated and participants will have the opportunity to explore their practical application. The aim of the course is for participants to leave with a deeper understanding of sustainability, a greater awareness of their own systems contexts, skill in using systems thinking tools and the ability to successfully incorporate and align sustainability with existing curriculum. Whether you’re running a school or facilitating a conversation in the classroom, this course is for you!

We recommend that the course be taken concurrently by two or more members of the same school or organization as it allows for deeper, contextual conversations revolving around the concepts and tools covered. Discounts are available for cohorts of three or more.

Learn with your team

  • Build a shared language in your community for sustainability
  • Create lesson/unit plans with a partner
  • Have a thought partner (in addition to your facilitator!)
  • Use the money you save towards future sustainability projects! 

Cohort Pricing:

  • $369/person, 3-5 people
  • $329, 6+ people

Learning Outcomes

In this course, you will…

• Discuss the imperative for sustainability education in a global context
• Identify sustainability dispositions and examine their compatibility with your personal educational philosophy and institutional values
• Understand the relationship between sustainability and systems thinking
• Explore the educational uses of systems thinking tools
• Discover how sustainability habits of mind can be integrated into teaching and learning
• Develop unit/lesson plans to include sustainability perspectives and systems thinking tools in your classroom

What will you take away from this course?

• A practical understanding of sustainability and systems thinking
• 1-1 mentorship and feedback from your Compass facilitator
• Powerful conversations and practical analysis of your educational setting
• Useful tools that can be integrated into any curriculum and every class level
• Access to our database of educator sourced lesson plans
• Professional networking with a global cohort of educators


Qualify to apply for Compass Education Level 1 “Compass Practitioner” Certification which can lead towards certification as a Compass Trainer (if all requirements are complete).

Who should participate?

Educators and program leaders who want to integrate sustainability education and systems thinking into their teaching practice. Curriculum leaders and administrators interested in understanding what the practical application of sustainability education looks like.

Time Expectations

We suggest that educators set aside 2-3 hours per week to do the readings, participate in the discussions and complete the suggested exercises. The course is designed to be immediately applicable in your context and the exercises often relate to your school environment, which is a win-win in the implementation and use of the tools in your classroom.

In addition to the asynchronous participation in the course, you will be invited and strongly encouraged to participate in four optional synchronous sessions with your facilitators. We will do our best to accommodate timing for different time zones.

1-1 Facilitator Support

This course is unique from many online courses because of the focus that we place on supporting our participants in their learning journey. Every participant will be assigned a mentor/facilitator whose educator experience most aligns with theirs. Your facilitator will accompany you throughout, providing personalized feedback and the opportunity to dive deeper based on your context.

Lesson Outlines

Lesson 1: An Intro to Sustainability
By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Create your own definition of holistic sustainability.
• Explain your role as an educator in building a sustainable world.
• Feel a sense of agency in educating for a sustainable world.
Lesson 2: Sustainability in My Context
By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Reflect on your educational philosophy and its connections to sustainability.
• Find leverage in already existing school/organization documentation to address sustainability.
Lesson 3: The Sustainability Compass
By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Understand the Sustainability Compass as a systems thinking tool.
• Apply the Compass to a commonly encountered situation.
• Use the Compass within your own context.
• Reflect on the value of using The Compass as a tool for analysis and collaboration.
Lesson 4: The Systems Iceberg

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

Explain the Iceberg Model, including the different levels and how they’re connected.
Apply the Iceberg Model to an example either in your own life or in the classroom.

Lesson 5: Systems Thinking Tools

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Give a definition of systems thinking.
• Describe the educational uses of systems thinking tools such as behavior over time graphs and closed loop diagrams.

Lesson 6: Action Planning

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Identify habits of mind that promote system thinking and sustainability.
• Create an action plan for how to use the Compass Tools in your classroom.

Lesson 7: Join the Movement

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

• Register for and access the Compass Tools (Accelerator Lite).
• Identify different ways to connect with Compass trained educators.
• Recognize the impact of global collaboration and opportunities for sharing.



Laurence Myers

Learning Empowerment Working Group Member, Compass Facilitator

Kate O'Connell

Educator, Australian International School

Kath Lane

Learning Empowerment Working Group Member, Compass Facilitator

Michelena McPherson

Learning Empowerment Working Group Member, Compass Facilitator

Elaine Reimann

Learning Empowerment Working Group Member, Compass Facilitator

Kate Doré

Learning Empowerment Working Group Chair, Compass Facilitator

Gitanjali Paul

Education Program Manager, Compass Facilitator

Lynda Rolph

Learning Empowerment Working Group Member, Compass Facilitator

Questions? We’d love to hear from you.


Yes!  Compass Education offers several opportunities for larger numbers of participants in both virtual and in person formats.  Please get in touch. 

The course is designed to run asynchronously but participants are encouraged to keep up a pace of one module per week.  Two to three additional live meetings are scheduled (optional) for interested participants who would like to dive deeper or speak directly with their facilitator. 

You can expect to feel comfortable using several new systems tools and integrating them in your classroom lessons.   There are quite a few other outcomes depending on how you show up for the course and what most captures your interest. 

Yes, we offer the same course as a two day onsite workshop.  See the professional development pages of our website. 

You can actively participate in the Level 2 course as long as you are able to identify a central challenge that you want to address using the new systems thinking tools (and familiar) that you will learn. As long as you choose a central challenge that you can still work on in your current context, you should also still be able to begin implementing your action plan which is the prerequisite for applying for Level 2 (Compass Educator) certification.

To become certified by Compass Education as a Compass Practitioner, you must:

  • Complete Compass Practitioner (Level 1) course
  • Complete all modules in the course and submit your lesson plan that uses at least one of the systems thinking tools you learned in the Level 1 course.  Your submission will be evaluated by our facilitators who will authorise your certification. 

Yes, in most schools this course would qualify.  Every school is different so please check with your school and reach out to our admin team if you have any questions. 

During the course you are encouraged to reach out to your facilitators with questions or with requests for individual support at any time.  We have several options to continue to learn and get support after the course is completed.