Ross School was originally founded with a mission to educate and prepare young people for global participation in the 21st century. As increasing acknowledgment of climate change and other issues of global sustainability sweeps across the countries of the world, the Ross curriculum is at the forefront of promoting sustainability education at all grade levels. To that end, Ross is making available Ross Learning System (RLS) resources at no cost for use in schools and communities worldwide. Please read further for information on the RLS Sustainability Thread, the Project Circles web tool, Guidelines for Educators on Sustainability and the Environment, and Ross School’s Declaration of Principles on Sustainability and the Environment.


Sustainability Thread

 Curricular components in the Ross Sustainability thread include Learning Experiences, Integrated Projects, and Assessments related to cultural ecology, the study of cultural history in the context of the natural environments in which it has developed; systems thinking, the connections between the natural, cultural, and social features of earth and human history; and the increasing complexity of humans’ relationships with their natural surroundings and with each other. With a holistic view that emphasizes the interconnectedness of physical, biological, and cultural phenomena on a global scale, lessons in the Sustainability thread aim to inculcate the importance of understanding and responding to challenges for contemporary ecosystems and human society and culture. 


Project Circles

The Project Circles web app guides students in collaboratively assessing the sustainability of a selected location, in either the contemporary or a historical time period. Through research, investigation, and fieldwork, students determine how the location rates in terms of sustainable culture, politics, ecology, and economics. They note how they arrived at the ratings and generate a profile circle as a visual representation of their findings, including the connections among the four areas assessed. The final part is proposing and engaging in systems-based activism aimed at change in an area marked by a critically low level of sustainability. This tool draws upon the Circles of Social Life approach described online at


Guidelines for Educators on Sustainability and the Environment

The Ross School and Ross Institute Guidelines for Educators on Sustainability and the Environment presents a set of guiding principles and educational approaches that reflect the school’s unique interdisciplinary and integrative approach to the issue of sustainability, which provides students with both a global ecological perspective and an appreciation of the complex interrelationships between human cultures and the environment they inhabit.


Declaration of Principles on Sustainability and the Environment

 The Declaration of Principles on Sustainability and the Environment lays out a set of shared values and a call to action that affirms Ross School’s and Ross Institute’s commitment to address the urgent issues of global environmental change and cultural sustainability that face our planet and our species in the coming century and beyond. 

Sustainability Lectures

Jeremy Rifkin: The Empathic Civilization

Ma Jun: China's Green Choice

Ralph Abraham: Systems and Sustainability

Carl Safina: Beyond Words—What Animals Think and Feel

Pierre Lena: Man and the Universe

William Irwin Thompson: Sustainability in the Spiral Curriculum

Hideaki Koizumi: Mind, Brain Education

David Wilgenbus: Educating Students About Sustainability

Yves Coppens: Human Origins

Steven Cohen: A Positive Vision of the Transition to Sustainability

David Liittschwager: Ocean Acidifiction

Kieran McNulty: Human Evolution and Sustainability

Sustainability Student Projects

Ross Field Academy: Mo'orea BioCube

Cultural Sustainability: Indigenous Planning

Honoring the Va'a

Ross Lower School: Native Garden

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Ross School Grade 1

Ross Field Academy: Fire and Ice

Climate Change: Disappearing Islands

Ethnobotany with Hinano

Edible Integration: The Spiral Garden

"Butterflies of the Soul" Collaboration