At the end of the last century, a growing number of people in Japan and the United States began to realize that high levels of consumption had placed a huge burden on the environment. Then, and today, the two nations face an opportunity to set an example in the efficient use and equitable distribution of the world's limited resources.

Beginning in 1997, ISC worked with Japan's Environmental Partnership Office, the Learning and Ecological Activities Foundation for Children in Nishnomiya, Japan, and Shelburne Farms in Vermont to design an "education for sustainability" program. Known as the Renkei Project, it helped students and adults develop skills they need to understand the relationships between themselves and the environment. Through a series of exchanges, ISC brought Japanese and American community leaders, educators, and policy makers together to develop new environmental education initiatives.

Tangible Results

  • We established a transnational dialogue about education for sustainability through exchanges between educators from Japan and Vermont.
  • We worked with our partners to develop local demonstration projects in Nishinomiya, Japan and in Vermont, which jumpstarted education for sustainability in elementary schools.
  • Vermont's pioneering education program, Environmental Learning for the Future or ELF, which trains parent volunteers to help children learn about the environment in elementary school, was adapted by the education system in Nishnomiya, Japan. It has since earned a national award for educational excellence.