Opinion Paper-White House Summit on Environmental Education.

Event: The First White House Summit on Environmental Education.

Held during the USA National Environmental Education Week.

Date: 16 April 2012

Comments from Julia Morton-Marr, B.Ed, Dip. T., DStG

Founding President,

International Holistic Tourism Education Centre,

Founder: International School Peace Gardens.

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 2G9

Email: ihtec@3web.com

Date: April 17, 2012.  Updated and Edited: 5 June 2013

Technology Used: White House YouTube sessions


Global Sustainability Education –

A Global Commons Perspective to Environmental Education Avoiding Ecocide.


This paper is an assessment of IHTEC’s innovative and collective work in relation to the Environmental Education movement as discussed during the White House Summit on Environmental Education. IHTEC suggests that the USA Environmental Educators develop a global commons perspective and include peace and sustainability education as they progress in the future of education. IHTEC agrees with most of the elements of environmental education that were discussed at the White House, especially by the head of the National Parks service, who understands Holistic Tourism Education. It may be useful for the summit to include a ‘Culture of Peace through Tourism’, building on the work of the National Parks system. Richard Louv, the founder of the Children and Nature organization, has the closest ideas to IHTEC’s point of view. Louv suggested that the opportunity to prevent an apocalypse or ecocide, is now.


Morton-Marr has been developing a system of education for schools into the 21st Century since 1991. This evolution began when she started teaching in 1961 in South Australia.  She taught Grades 1 and 2 for six years. For the following four years she worked as a classroom consultant (kindergarten to Grade 10) with the Music Branch of South Australia, where she responded to individual teachers programs using the arts.  From 1984, she volunteered as Secretary with the Goolwa Tourist and Traders organization.  She began her foundational research in the geography of tourism at this time. From 1984, she continued this research at the University of South Australia finishing a degree in education with a series of unpublished papers in the Geography of Tourism, Recreation and Leisure and Curriculum Change.  The main topics of these papers were the Sir Richard Peninsula, Goolwa, and Mouth of the Murray River in South Australia.  This focus lead to a micro-cosmic view of the global commons land use issues facing Australians.  Another outcome was the founding of the International School Peace Gardens and production of educational curriculum with a focus on concepts for place based learning in schools.

In 1991, when Morton-Marr arrived in Canada, the Etobicoke Board of Education invited her to discuss the early stages of the implementation of her combined ideas, with the only environmentally based school in Ontario at that time, West Humber Collegiate Institute.  Work with Principal, Eric Foster, (who became co-founder of IHTEC), teachers and students at the school, and York University consolidated these ideas into a method of education for the 21st century called ‘Holistic Tourism Education’.

USA Involvement.

In late 1992, the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre and the International School Peace Gardens project began in Ontario, Canada, as a societal organization. Morton-Marr was invited to join Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International in Hawaii, a professional educators’ association, while working with John Southworth, University of Hawaii Manoa, in the USA. From this online work, a PDK Hawaii committee called IHTEC / PDK Hawaii School Peace Gardens was created.

Principal John Thatcher, PDK Hawaii President, suggested this work to be implemented. The project is currently developing further, under the leadership of Aaron Levine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Education, Institute for Teacher Education, and Miki Tomita, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction, University Laboratory School, Oahu, Hawaii. Hawaii should be on the list of USA Schools leading education for Sustainability.


Children on this planet from different cultures and nations are raised with many and varied parenting styles.  As a teacher, diversities in the classroom just don’t matter.  The Earth and the web of life are at risk because of human interference.  This matter is of paramount importance.  Too much is discussed by the US media regarding student differences.  Every child must be fully engaged in education about the state of the earth and what to do about it.

Schools educate the whole community from ‘birth to earth’.  Teachers, children and their parents need a hopeful, yet realistic message.  Yes, we have created much trauma to the Earth, causing it to overheat, but we can turn the crisis around if all educators make it a focus, going far beyond testing and teaching.

Education for the 21st Century – Environmental Education or Global Sustainability Education.

IHTEC believes that educators require the curriculum to contain both environmental education and peace education together to create sustainability. There is no sustainability without peace. Maria Montessori, talked about ‘education as the only way to peace’, in her book “Education and Peace” in 1949.

Governments like to fund educational programs that are for the short term. This approach does not cover the long term needs of the Earth. In 2000 UNESCO in Canada, suggested that every non-profit organization and every charitable educational organization, should develop partnerships. IHTEC has had many continuing partnerships over the last twenty years.  IHTEC has always focused with partners who are positive, with ideas that can be well integrated into classrooms, especially those that are based on scientific research.

A panel member at the White House Summit on Environmental Education, asked for a definition of environmental education. Though useful, this is the old paradigm of working in this field. IHTEC suggests that Global Sustainability Education curriculum’s first goal, is to encourage whole school involvement working together to teach sustainability, to plan and to plant purposefully and to cleanup the environmental mess. All teaching towards this end, will help repair the damage in every part of the global commons. The second goal is to teach, at the same time,  in every school around the world, why we need these concepts.


The United Nations has created international laws for the overview and management of the global commons. UNESCO has adopted the Earth Charter. However these are not fully implemented in nations, or schools unless they are made law within each country, Governments and all people on Earth will not make the changes that are urgently required. IHTEC has written a draft law, to help nations achieve sustainability, which is on this website.

Global Sustainability  Education Draft Law

A Global Perspective

Every person on earth must be involved.  Such involvement will create jobs.   Australia has had schools involved in Environmental Education in a limited way; and many of these schools are also involved with the Federal Government’s  programme called ‘Land Care’.  ‘Learning for a Sustainable Future’ are networking all the Provinces of Canada: Ontario, Manitoba, British Colombia have already made large strides towards implementation through the Evergreen NGO and Roberta Bonda’s Eco-Schools in Toronto, Ontario;  Green Schools and other fine initiatives must be encouraged in the USA.  However, such initiatives have only occurred in some schools, not all.  The approach often depends on the Principal.  And once started, the next Principal may not choose to continue the priority. It is essential for sustainability that all Boards of Education make the focus a policy priority and that whole schools, principals and teachers are re-trained to implement a sustainable policy.  Only then will schools be enabled to continue this important work.

Progress has been achieved in Canada and the United States.  Buildings are being built and renovated under ‘green’ building codes.  Carbon emissions are thus being reduced as are energy costs.  This great start needs to happen in every school and district.  There are so many jobs that now need to be done to help the global commons repair themselves.  Education must play a major role in this development.

I know that education was never designed for these ends. However it seems necessary for the future of education that we re-think how and what we are teaching. My research indicates that we need to move forward much more quickly now, as we are already well on the way to ecocide. GSE  must be brought to the forefront of all other curriculum to build a preventative system for the web of life and teach sustainability education. This is the future ground work for education. Then and only then can we bring in all the ‘bits’ of education that are essential to learning and to sustain humanity and the web of life on Earth. (Morton-Marr 2013)

Curriculum Development

Since 1960 there has yet to be a major curriculum change towards the integration of sustainability education around global commons issues.  “Why haven’t we changed the curriculum globally to integrate environmental education literacy, before now?” “Is it because we didn’t know that oil and fossil fuels had created Climate Change heating the Earth?” “Is it because it is politically incorrect?” Until now, all politics could do was to get us into and out of wars. (Montessori) Why didn’t we teach peace and environment together? Maybe it was because there is a major gap between scientific data, human understanding and political implementation. To go from the old testing paradigm to a Global Sustainability Education core curriculum, has taken IHTEC 20 years. Educational change is slow. We must begin immediately to correct this short-sightedness.

IHTEC’s scientifically based programs are based on a new paradigm, and has integrated systemic thinking as prevention of war.  It is only through education that is global and local that this can be implemented at the same time.  The Earth and humanity need that change right now.  If the Environmental Education summit can expand its concepts to include peace education, it will also improving the quality of education, with a focus on Global Sustainability Education into the 21st Century, students and adults will be better prepared for the big environmental issues that are predicted.


The role of the media and the Internet is vital to get the message out on the work of the Environmental Education Summit. This information needs to go viral. The US plan to have a Task Force on environmental education. It requires everybody to support it.

United Status Government Task Force.

At the time of writing, USA has many of the Government departments on side and planning to work together on Environmental Education! If the USA really gets going, it is possible to prevent future wars caused by environmental collapse.  It is a vital work that must be achieved.

I agree with Secretary of Education in the United States of America, Arne Duncan. We need more environmental education. I believe it is critical to include peace education and sustainability education with a focus on prevention.  International laws must be enforced in every country in order to protect the global commons in the future.  IHTEC is needed as it hosts a gentler way of inviting educational change.   ISPG Benefits Education  I am so glad to hear that education is changing in the United States.  Surely such change there will set the example for the rest of the world to follow suit.

The Government on the White House Summit on Environmental Education Report  is very limited.


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