Spend five rich days with colleagues from around the country at an informative and restorative experience that will give you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of Education for Sustainability (EFS). This program is held at Shelburne Farms and is part conference, part workshop, part retreat.

Designed to be dynamic and democratic, Foundations in EFS offers teachers the time and space to develop projects of personal interest while learning from colleagues and other leaders in the field of Education for Sustainability. Interactive sessions feature a blend of individual work time, peer-to-peer feedback, resource sharing, hands-on learning experiences, and large and small group discussions.

Education for Sustainability links knowledge, inquiry, and action so that students are empowered to create positive change now, and carry this activism into their adult lives. It supports students so that they can strive for, and thrive in, a more sustainable future. This professional learning program is best suited for PreK-12 practicing educators, though all types of educators are welcome.

Save the date for our next offering of Foundations: July 8–12, 2024. Express your interest to be notified when registration opens.

What You'll Learn

Our overall goal is to give you opportunities to develop connections between your curriculum and community, as you work and dialogue together and reflect in an inspiring setting that models sustainability and systems-thinking. We'll design the agenda to align with your specific learning goals and teaching contexts.

  • Gain familiarity with and practice the skills to apply Education for Sustainability as a unifying framework for education that will help your students contribute to creating a healthy future for their communities, economically, socially, and environmentally.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the concept of sustainability and its related big ideas, and be able to apply those ideas in formal and non-formal education settings to help students address social, environmental, and economic issues.
  • Deepen your understanding of complex systems and systems dynamics in social and ecological contexts.
  • Understand and practice proven strategies and pedagogies to integrate sustainability into schools (including curriculum development, campus ecology, collaboration, and community partnerships).
  • Build knowledge about community sustainability efforts, resources, and opportunities in order to integrate them into your curriculum.

In Your Words

Meet the Core Instructors

  • Jen Cirillo, Director of Professional Learning, Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools
  • Aimee Arandia Østensen, Professional Learning Facilitator, Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools
  • Simon Jorgenson, Associate Professor - Elementary Education, The University of Vermont
Aerial view of the University of Vermont campus in springtime. Large towering buildings stand in foreground with grassy school green in middleground. Rolling hills stand in background.
UVM Spatial Analysis Lab

Our Partnership with the University of Vermont

Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools and the University of Vermont share a belief in the transformative power of education to shape a healthier, more sustainable future. Our programs combine the Institute’s international reputation for EFS professional learning and unique campus with UVM’s research capacity, land-grant mission, and track record of high-quality teacher education. As a student, you’ll have the opportunity to tap into the resources, support, and knowledge of both institutions.


Foundations is offered once each summer at Shelburne Farms. 

Save the date for our next offering of Foundations, July 8–12, 2024. Express your interest to be notified when registration opens.

Scholarships may be available for our programs on a need-based scale. Please fill out the scholarship application prior to registering for a program. For any questions about scholarships, email registration@shelburnefarms.org.

Create Your Learning Pathway

Foundations is designed to be an introductory course to Education for Sustainability. To grow your knowledge, take our series of three EFS-focused courses:

  1. First, Foundations in EFS;
  2. Second, Immersion in EFS; and
  3. EFS Leadership Academy third.

Or, take all of these classes within the Education for Sustainability Graduate Certificate.

Interested in graduate credit? Some of our programs, including Foundations, are typically offered for optional credits for an additional fee. Contact us to learn more.

Start a conversation with Director of Professional Learning Jen Cirillo at jcirillo@shelburnefarms.org or 802-985-0315 to talk about our programs and available graduate credits. Or, complete our request for information form and someone will be in touch.