Zoom on teacher training: learning from an International Teachers’ Programme

Can Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) succeed in a world with differing belief systems and views? Working together is the answer. UNESCO gathers and shares best practices in teacher education institutions. One of them is the Swiss International Teachers' Program (SITP), where educators from all over the world manage a fictitious country using simulation software…


The programme in brief: who, where…

  • The training targets elementary and secondary teachers both from North and South countries: Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, the USA
  • They study ecology, economics, and social and political issues
  • The programme is a 4 week experience based in the USA (Florida Gulf Coast University, College of Education)
  • The programme was launched in 2000.


Managing a fictitious country…

Using a computer simulation program (Ecosys), trainees manage a fictitious country. This generates a macroeconomics database that allows them to understand the cumulative impact of their decisions.

The method involves team problem solving and critical thinking.



Back to local reality

A ‘sense of place’ is cultivated by interviewing local community leaders and taking field trips to ranches and nature reserves.

Participants explore the dynamic tension between economic growth and environmental stewardship.



An opportunity to bond

Participants are to come up with new perspectives on education, culture and sustainability. The adequate knowledge, skills and confidence are fostered via:

  • team building activities
  • interdisciplinary curriculum
  • shared living arrangements


Message from the microcosm

Engaging participants in policy decisions for Ecoland, the visits, and multi-cultural learning context present a microcosm of our world.

Each member develops sensitivity to other points of view...


Engage further and read more on:

  • keys for success of this initiative

Then take the quiz to check your learning 


You can also download the complete case study (ESD Good Practices in Teacher Education Institutions, 2007)



A good practice in university-public-private partnerships…

SITP success builds on the commitment of Swiss and American Universities and the recruitment of financial partners.

The initiative is a partnership between:

  • Florida Gulf Coast University (College of Education)
  • Zurich University of Applied Sciences (School of Education)
  • City of Zurich
  • private sponsors in Switzerland, Brazil and South Africa


Can this initiative be replicated?

Replication in other settings requires heeding the constraints and challenges.

  • Differing language and economics backgrounds: must be accommodated by adapting the syllabus
  • Relational issues: participants create democratic communities within their living quarters. An experienced facilitator is needed to mediate the group dynamics.



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