Historical Insight into IHTEC’s involvement in developing Global Sustainability Education

As an alumni of the University of South Australia, Julia Morton-Marr, International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC) Founding President, studied with John Braendler, Geography of Tourism, Recreation and Leisure. When she came to Canada she developed the International School School Peace Gardens, which was based on an integrated studies and a multi-diciplinary approach.  ISPG began in late 1992/93 with Eric Foster, Principal, West Humber Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Ontario the first Environmental school in Canada. Eric became co-founder of ISPG on the IHTEC Board. He worked with Chuck Hopkins*(see below), Managing Director of Dearness Environmental Society.  IHTEC believed that the current critical man-made global issues on Earth warranted a completely different systemic long term approach to education curricula for the 21st Century.  IHTEC calls this Global Sustainability Education a namethat Julia created at the first Open-Space online conference (18 November 2003) as part of the Council of Europe, Global Education Week with Heiner Benking and Eric Schneider.  Prof. Helmut Burkhardt, Ryerson University, physicist, IHTEC Board member, helped develop this concept in his paper Universal Values and the Four Pillars of Sustainability: Foundations of Sustainability Education. Helmut presented the concept at a Video Conference which Julia held at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 14 October 2004. IHTEC’s Global Sustainability Education evolved significantly at this time.

Prior to 2004, Julia Morton-Marr wrote “Holistic Tourism Education” at the University of South Australia, a 54 page document, which was a first effort of developing a new system of education for the 21st Century.  Her earlier work in Geography of Tourism, Recreation and Leisure developed into a case study of the Sir Richard Peninsula at the River Murray’s mouth. This early study, in 1986/7/8, brought in elements of the current global impacts on the earth that was facing Goolwa, South Australia and the rest of the world.

*During the ‘UN Day in Schools’ run by the United Nations Association of Canada (UNAC) for the UN 50th Anniversary in 1994-5, Julia was introduced to Charles (Chuck) Hopkins, ex-offio IHTEC and UNESCO. Hopkins was then Director of the Toronto District School Board of Education, who was well known for his ECO-Ed conference which seemed to have developed into UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). In his paper Reflections on 20+ Years of ESD Chuck discusses many of the hundreds of bits of education that have developed as a result.

In 1995 Julia was on the Board of the  United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC – Toronto Branch), and was asked by Anne D’Andrea (decd) then President of UNACTO Board, if she would write an educational package for the Soka Gakkai International exhibition on the Human Rights.

Mickey Masuda, Soka Gakki International (SGI) Toronto, Ontario, then introduced  Julia to the Interdisciplinary Conferences on the Evolution of World (EWOC) committee on 20 April 1995. Here she met committee members Prof. Emeritus Annatol Rapoport (decd), Chair of Peace Studies, Science for Peace, which was formed in 1981 at University of Toronto. Prof. Emeritus Helmut Burkhardt (decd) Faculty of Physics, Ryerson University, and was Head of the ‘Ryerson Energy Centre; and Prof. Emeritus Derek Paul, Physics, University of Toronto. It was now evident that the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development evolved from these conferences, through the President of SGI to the Security Council at the United Nations. Helmut Burkhardt’s 1995 paper on “Priorities for a Sustainable Civilization”, PrioritiesforaSustCiv, was a very important in the development for GSE. In 2001 Prof. Emeritus Anatol Rapoport, wrote and presented his final paper ‘ECOLOGICAL PEACE, A Systemic View of the Biosphere’.

After the 2002 EWOC Conference, Berkhardt gathered a few participants and created the Council on Global Issues (CGI). CGI Members included:  Helmut Berkhardt, President; Rose Dyson, Vice-Presdent Media; Julia Morton-Marr, Vice-President Education, Heiner Benking, Vice-President, Germany. The Advisory Board  included:  Prof. Emeritus Derek Paul founder of Science for Peace and the Global Issues Project series of Round tables; Phyllis Crieghton, long time member of Science for Peace and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; and Adele Buckley, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group. One outcome document was the Global Issues Handbook ogias rtf 060614 and HandbookGlobalIssuesHB powerpoint, published for the World Peace Forum (2019), held in Vancouver, BC.

A few other papers that have influenced our work on Global Sustainability, have been Global Sustainability Education which has been updated for this discussion.  Prof. David Bell (decd), Professor Emeritus and Former Dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, spoke at the EWOC conference.  In his paper, ESD Cure or Placebo (revised March 2009), he discusses how the work of two groups, Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF)  and the  Education Alliance for Sustainable Ontario, (EASO) compare.  Interestingly and significantly, members have come to some similar conclusions as IHTEC. In 2014 Prof Derek Paul, Wilfred Candler and Judy Lumb wrote QEB-13-2-Climate-web, “Necessary Action to Address Climate Change” a very important paper showing how serious the world’s crisis was then.  We need Global Sustainable Education (GSE) @GlobalSustEdu for an ‘Ecologically Sustainable World’.

As part of the Canadian Pugwash / Science for Peace – Global Issues Project, Julia Morton-Marr’s research continued developing GSE, with both Environment and Peace together. Professors Helmut Burkhardt (decd) and Derek Paul also suggested that Global Sustainability Education must teach environment and peace together. Burkhardt says ‘there is no sustainability without peace’. Whatever education system we create for future generations must prevent all wars. Each action for instance, planting in an International School Peace Garden, must be carried out with conscious, well-formulated purposes, grasped by all those involved. All teaching in schools, universities and colleges must include education that will reduce negative impacts on the global commons.

Thus, this syllabus includes understanding that the time involved with climate change in the 2000’s showed that every action is multiplying due to population increase and improved technology.  The time we have to change is contracting.  The convergence of global issues is producing unexpected consequences.   Some of the changes we can make to support global sustainability are:   leaving the use of oil for essentials, not fuel;  reducing armed conflicts and ending the environmental destruction of earth through wars; reducing the throughput of plastics, which are a by-product of oil; reducing consumerism and eliminating planned obsolescence; using water sensibly, ensuring that pollutants  and effluence are not dumped into waters;  keeping all old growth trees in place.  It is essential to find alternative energy sources and to know their outcomes (expected and unexpected) before implementation.  Healthy attitudes to human population growth must be discussed, as the earth had a food crisis in 2006-08 and again in 2010-11.  http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2330e/i2330e.pdf

GSE focuses on bio-diversity loss, carbon emissions, food security, fresh water and oceanography. Teacher training modules for schools are available here online (see top of website).

Some of the research, implementation and editing for this website has been achieved by students from University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student volunteers. Thank you to all of them.

It is very clear that Global Sustainability Education (GSE) and the United Nations (UNESCO) Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) must continue.  This research has developed a new method of education for the 21st Century. All other bits of education need to be either re-assessed and reconsidered as to whether they protect the web of life. All University Faculties should ensure that what they teach includes an analysis of GSE as long term basic and continuation of the ESD that can be updated when necessary. All other faculties must ensure that they are not adding to the existing problems. All teachers, their school boards and communities need to take on the responsibility of this pressing global condition and the necessary retraining required to make a difference in saving our web of life.

Written on 22 May 2013. Edited: 18 April 2017 Re-Edited: 7 October 2019.

By: Julia Morton-Marr, DStG, B. Ed., Dip.T. Founding President, IHTEC (retired)

Bell, David V. J., “Education for Sustainable Development: Cure or Placebo?” in Glen Toner and James Meadowcroft (eds) Innovation, Science and Environment: Special Edition – Charting Sustainable Development in Canada 1987-2027 (McGill Queens, 2009

Burkhardt, H., Four Pillars of Sustainability: Foundations of Sustainability Education. Evolution of World Order Conference 2004  (on this site)

Hopkins, Charles, 2012  “Reflections on 20+ Years of ESD”, Vol 6(1): 21–35,  OPINION ESSAY, ESD in Higher Education, the Professions and at Home, SAGE Publications
Morton-Marr,  J., Global Sustainability Education, 2004 updated 2013, (on this sit

Paul, Prof Emeritus, Derek , Wilfred Candler and Judy Lumb; 2014,  “Necessary Action to Address Climate Change” (on this site)

Rapoport, Prof Anatol, 2001, “Ecological Peace. A Systemic View of the Biosphere.” (on this site)




One response

  1. Please send us your educational thoughts on this page.


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