Environment and School Initiatives (ENSI) is an international government based network focused on innovation and research in environmental education (EE) and education for sustainable development. It was established under the auspices of OECD €CERI (Centre for Education, Research and Innovation) in 1986. The current international secretariat is based in the pedagogical high school of Solothurn, Switzerland. ENSI is currently developing an official partnership with UNESCO in the framework of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD). ENSI brings together school initiatives, school authorities, teacher training, educational research institutions and other stakeholders from more than twenty countries worldwide and its membership is growing.
ENSI supports educational developments that promote environmental understanding, active approaches to teaching and learning, and citizenship education. This is achieved mainly through research and the international exchange of experiences. ENSI adopts a participatory approach involving schools, students, teachers, teacher trainers and administrators, with their main focus directed towards action research and development.
ENSI's main strengths are:
- It is an institution-based network, representing national education authorities at senior government level.
- It is a research oriented network, involving research institutions sharing an active and participative vision of educational research in environmental education.
- It is an action-oriented network, fostering school initiatives and projects aiming to develop the quality of schooling in the community and ensuring it is consistent with the ideas of sustainable development.
ENSI's main areas of work in the field of environmental school initiatives include:
- initiating, coordinating and supporting research and school development activities.
- promoting international exchange, understanding and cooperation, including cooperating with other international organisations and programmes.
- making policy recommendations and or statements on EE and EfS.
Since 1990 the ENSI network has contributed to fostering a dialogue among countries and between different stakeholders in each country, to explore the impact and meaning of Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainability (EfS) in each country. ENSI has also provided a platform for the systematic exchange of ideas, experiences and innovations in the member countries, which in turn, run their own ENSI national networks.
Since 2000the focus of ENSI research was on the extensive use of action research as a tool for teacher training and for school development or on the development of schools as learning organizations with an emphasis on sustainability values. ENSI believes schools should use the contents and initiatives they deal with to be an active partner in the local social system and thus contribute to improving the quality of education in general and to reactivate societal values.
ENSI is strongly committed to supporting all international efforts considering education as a key issue for the whole international movement for sustainable development, and, therefore offers its experience and programs to all interested countries. With the UN DESD (2005-2014), ENSI will have a critical role in supporting an international focus on delivering significant outcomes for a sustainable future for schools and educational institutions across the globe.
ENSI's major project areas are:
- Teacher Education,
- Mainstreaming Environmental Education into School Curriculum,
- Quality Criteria for Ecoschools - and the SEED (School Development through Environmental Education) European network, which was approved in 2002 by the European Commission as a COMENIUS 3 Network.