Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy

  • Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy (SF Staff)
  • Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy (SF Staff)
  • Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy (SF Staff)

EFS Leadership Academy 2022-2023

Our year-long, residential, leadership academy brings together education leaders to form a peer network committed to better aligning education towards the goals of ecological integrity, economic vitality, and social justice. Through the ten days of this program, we create a learning community exploring Education for Sustainability (EFS), systems thinking, and leadership for school transformation.​ We will engage participants with new ways of thinking, skills to create change and nurture themselves, and present them with innovative ideas & strategies to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future. At the heart of this work is educators and a sense of hope, love and resilience.

It is expected that participants will have a strong foundation in sustainability and EFS - or teaching/leading with the interconnections of social, environmental, and economic systems in mind. Building from this base, we will explore systems-thinking, leadership skills, and change-making in order to transform education.

All participants will develop of a professional EFS Action plan. The EFS Action Plan is a big picture look at the change the participant is trying to make in their school, organization or the world. During the year, participants will work on a 90-day action project and research to solve a “problem” in their practice with thoughtful support from peers in the network. Ideally this will allow participants to get over the “implementation dip” and have ongoing support and a way of ensuring and evaluating their efforts as change agents. By the end, leadership academy participants will walk away with new insights and an updated action plan to move their work forward after the completion of the program.

View Education for Sustainability (EFS) Leadership Academy Alumni List

Leadership Academy Overview (download PDF)

As we gather seasonally throughout the year, we tune in to what is happening around us in the natural world to reflect on our professional practice. Between each session, we gather virtually to dialogue about shared readings, reflect with a peer partner, or support a peer’s work. 

Gathering 1: Summer - GROWTH

July  [3 days]

In the summer, we take a cue from the natural world and look to what is alive and growing.  We experience summer on the farm, by the lake, and in the field and forest.  We spend time together as a new group reflecting on:

What brought me here? Where do I want to go?  Who am I as a leader?  What do I need to know in order to create change?  We share what is alive for us as educators and leaders in our work.  

In this gathering you will:

  • Begin developing an EFS Professional Action Plan.  In the plan you consider your individual goals, hopes, expectations.  
  • Create a systems map of your work context as a way to better understand how you might leverage change in your school or organization.  
  • Practice professional collaborative protocols to deepen your practice.

Gathering 2: Fall - CHANGE

October [2 days]

In the fall, we consider how you can effect change and what evidence of change looks like in your educational context. Again, we are inspired by our surroundings and look to the phenological events in the fall. We awaken our senses as we explore nature’s changing landscape and inhabitants’ activities. Together, we explore narratives, ethnography, and storytelling as powerful tools toward sustainability.  

In this gathering you will:

  • Begin to reveal more of your personal practice, sharing your work with each other, seeking feedback and the wisdom from the group.  
  • Deepen your practice using reflection and collaborative protocols.
  • Learn skills of interviewing and documentation and explore how storytelling can be a tool for your systems change efforts.
  • Develop a 90-day action plan for individual research and reflection.

Gathering 3: Winter - ADAPTATION

January -February [3 days]

In the winter we connect the concept of adaptation in the natural world to that of leadership practice.  We explore adaptive leadership techniques to respond to changing external conditions.  Outdoors we look for patterns and use them as metaphors for your work and systems map. We explore questions like:

What have I been tracking? What do I need to do differently?  What perspectives do I need?  We dive into skills and address understanding of diversity, power and privilege.  Getting out on the land, we experience winter’s gifts of quiet and how stories are revealed in a different way.

In this gathering you will:

  • Reflect on your action plans and get feedback from peers who will help you consider alternative perspectives or next steps
  • Read articles on leadership practice and reflect with peers on applications for your own context.

Gathering 4: Spring - RENEWAL

Spring  [2 days]

In the spring (the close of the year-long program), we explore the concept of renewal.  For your personal and professional practice we consider sustaining the practitioner in the hard work of systems change.  The land inspires us as we look for signs of animal and plant growth, rebirth, and migration.  

In this gathering you will:

  • Develop a plan and share your commitment to sustainability work.
  • Deepen your ability to advocate for EFS
  • Celebrate and rejuvenate!


Program Details:
Cost $1500. Includes meals and accommodations; excludes travel and graduate credit. A limited number of partial scholarships are available. Limited to 16 participants.  
Optional  Graduate credits are available for an additional cost.

Registration Details:
Registration for this program is by application only. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full.

TO APPLY:  Please send an email to Jen Cirillo, [email protected]  with the following:

  • a current CV or resume
  • response to the following essay questions:  “What change do you hope to make in the world? And how will this experience in the EFS Leadership Academy help you to reach your goals?” (750 word max)

Scholarships are available for the course fee only, graduate credits are not covered.