The sustainability short course has been designed for approximately 100 hours of student engagement. The specification for this junior cycle short course in sustainability is built around four strands:


Strand 1 – Me and My Place

Students learn about themselves, their local community and their local environment. They will learn about how people rely on the environment and upon one another and have opportunities to enjoy learning about the local surroundings outdoors.




Strand 2 – Just One Earth

Students will learn about how there are boundaries to what our environment can support, recognise the value of all living and non-living things, how they can help to protect the environment and maintain the earth’s life support systems.




Strand 3 – Global Justice

Students learn about the responsibilities as a global citizen and how we are connected to people around the world through our decisions and actions.




Strand 4 – Taking Action

Students learn about and expand their capacity to work with others to create a just and sustainable world. Student decide upon and experience taking action in support of global justice and sustainability.


How to teach the short course

It is not envisaged that teachers would teach each of the four strands as a block or in sequence. Instead, teachers develop units of learning starting from their own students’ choices and interests as well as the teacher’s own existing areas of expertise and interest. They can then match a number of the short course learning outcomes to this unit of learning. The units of learning, created by the teacher with their students, can be anchored in expertise from one specific subject department or be cross-curricular.

What does the learning look like?

Students should be able to describe that they are:

  • Learning outdoors, enjoying being outside
  • Finding out more about their own community
  • Discussing global issues and environment
  • Playing games, role playing
  • Thinking and debating, being confident that I can recognise and use reliable evidence
  • Facilitating meetings and working in groups to plan an action
  • Making decisions in large groups and in small groups on the basis of equality
  • Taking action to make the world more sustainable (contacting politicians, interviewing experts/organisations, organising events, organising campaigns, running community activities)
  • Learning about different ways they can change the world
  • Identifying existing good practice towards sustainability
  • Learning a practical skills they have chosen, that will help to create a more sustainable world (e.g. building from sustainable materials, repairing equipment, growing food, building a website)

Where will learning take place?


  • Outdoor classroom at school / school garden / nearest green space
  • At home (bridging activities to be completed at home wherever possible)
  • Classroom (using nontraditional layouts, circle and small groups)
  • Seashore / lake shore / local forest
  • Places of local interest: local community centre/ local businesses /community garden /Historical sites /Local farm/ other community and political venues for action
  • Technical subject rooms depending on student choices in skills strand e.g. home economics room, woodwork room, technology room, computer room, science lab, art room, PE hall, outdoor bike workshop.