Practice Brief 93

Think globally, act locally: Promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through community-centered learning

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Why it Matters to You
  • Teachers should engage students in community-centered learning and help them connect this learning to global issues, civic engagement, and solutions.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should provide teachers with opportunities to learn about the SDGs and incorporate them into their curriculum in locally relevant ways.
  • School Leaders should support teachers as they implement SDG-based lessons by connecting teachers to community members working in sustainability and by providing time for them to collaborate with colleagues on enacting interdisciplinary instruction.

What Is The Issue?

To promote global well-being and to prepare students and communities for future success in a global economy, we should provide them with opportunities to study local issues and understand how these issues fit into the fabric of global sustainability—practices that support ecological, human, and economic health. The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, describe current global goals, such as ending poverty, good health, clean water, clean energy, and equity. They offer educators practical ways to focus instruction on meaningful local and global phenomena that connect to students’ lives. They also highlight key intersections between STEM, economics, social behavior, and politics.


By Janet Charnley, John Olson, Deb L. Morrison, and Jeanne Norris |. May 2023

Reflection Questions

  • What issues are my students, their families, and their communities most concerned about? How do these connect to the SDGs?
  • What actions are organizations or governments in your community developing to address these issues? How can you help your students imagine and propose other possible actions to be taken?
  • How are you designing learning focused on real-world challenges that will help students develop interdisciplinary knowledge and practices needed for future careers and civic participation?

Things To Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.