Growing Green Hearts

An eBook

The 'Growing Green Hearts: Inspiring the Next Generation with Planetary Health Education' eBook is a colorful tapestry of narratives, ideas, and effective strategies. More than a simple guide, this informative and empowering Book is a voyage through diverse settings and experiences and is filled with actionable examples and engaging content.

A Unique Collection of Stories

In our complex era of human-caused environmental changes, the need for fostering hope and providing exemplary education for young minds is more crucial than ever. This eBook advocates for the Planetary Health movement as a guiding force, offering insights to transcend the myth of human exceptionalism and embracing our intrinsic connection to nature. Authors' contributed chapters weave together a tapestry of educational activities and curricula that emphasize social mobilization, care, and the regeneration of natural systems. This volume also sheds light on often overlooked ancestral ecological knowledge from Indigenous populations and traditional communities.

Unlike conventional guides,  Growing Green Hearts:...
Unlike conventional guides, Growing Green Hearts: Inspiring the Next Generation with Planetary Health Education is not a rigid prescription. Instead, it presents a diverse collection of stories and ideas, encouraging formal and informal educators to adapt and apply these experiences within their own educational contexts.

  • Diverse Educational Settings: From classrooms to educational gardens, teacher training experiences in the Amazon to activities driven by young climate activists, Growing Green Hearts spans educational landscapes.
  • Global South Perspective: Embracing a Latin American perspective, Growing Green Hearts amplifies voices and experiences that resonate with ancestral ecological knowledge, a unique lens of Planetary Health.
  • Encouraging Action: Every chapter serves as an invitation—to reflect, share, and most importantly, take action. We believe that education is a key driver of Planetary Health, and Growing Green Hearts inspires readers to activate educational actions for children and young people in their communities.

 Contents:    03   Introduction    05   Literature...

03 Introduction

05 Literature Review: Planetary Health in Basic Education
Young people are poised to benefit significantly from reducing environmental impacts, yet they are also disproportionately affected if inadequate responses to environmental crises persist. The review underscores the underutilization of Planetary Health in educational spaces. While most studies focus on training health professionals, there is growing awareness of Planetary Health in primary education. Schools play a pivotal role in empowering informed and proactive agents of change. Incorporating local knowledge broadens horizons, fostering empathy and awareness. Urgent government initiatives are needed to support educational efforts, particularly in vulnerable regions like the Amazon rainforest, where preservation is critical for the health of future generations on Earth.

26 Planetary Health as a Strategy for Teaching Socio-Environmental Issues in the Post-Pandemic Scenario
Amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Thaís Presa Martins used a diverse array of educational tools to integrate Planetary Health concepts into her curriculum. These ranged from thought-provoking films to immersive museum visits, fostering deep understanding and critical thinking among her students. Through her experiences, she used education to promote environmental awareness and empower students to become agents of positive change in their communities and beyond.

“It is my stance that Planetary Health can be presented as a tool of social intervention for local and global actions to conserve the delicate balance of nature and the quality of human life and as a powerful teaching strategy of socio-environmental issues and health in elementary schools around the world.”

34 A Multidisciplinary Activity Proposal on Nutrition in Terms of Planetary Health
The "Food Detectives: What Do We Eat & Why Do We Eat It?" project aimed to create an educative trail in an outdoor environment focusing on Planetary Health-related themes. This led to the development of a graduate course focusing on Planetary Health and food and nutritional safety education in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. The group also created educational materials, including a booklet for students and a guidebook and training course for teachers, intending to promote transdisciplinary learning and engagement with Planetary Health concepts.

“Without models or instruction manuals to accomplish such a mission, we can only imagine, create, experiment, and disseminate feasible solutions together. Within this context, education is a powerful tool that also needs to be reinvented, and any initiative in this area, properly grounded, is valid. Be brave! Onwards!”

48 Planetary Health as an Undergraduate Course in Biological Sciences
This chapter outlines the implementation of a remote microcourse integrating the Planetary Health Education (PHE) framework into undergraduate education. The course focused on a case study addressing biodiversity conservation, engaging biology students in interactive discussions and activities. Participants demonstrated a solid understanding of the PHE domains and their application to real-world challenges, highlighting the effectiveness of the microcourse in promoting interdisciplinary learning and raising awareness of Planetary Health issues among undergraduate students.

“There is no conservation if we do not consider the human factor. Policies and actions must be developed WITH people, taking into account the specificities of each context. People are not affected in the same way by social-environmental problems and we must mainly take into account traditional communities, which are more socially vulnerable.”

62 Nature Science-Based Education Promoting Health in Protected Areas in Brazil
The Global Climate Change Trail (GCCT) is an initiative that aims to educate primary and secondary school age students about climate change through outdoor learning experiences. Although initially focused on coastal and marine environmental education, the GCCT expands its scope to address climate change issues, promoting critical, emancipatory, and cooperative learning. Through the experiential outdoor activities, students gain a deeper understanding of climate change concepts and the effects on global health, biodiversity, and cities while fostering values and attitudes conducive to addressing socio-environmental challenges.

“Finally, the union between the university, Protected Areas, and basic education is highlighted as a laboratory in the territory, creating unique possibilities for the development of research activities in the integrated teaching of environmental themes and in the evaluation of the perceptions of the various social agents involved in these activities.”

71 From Waste to Sustainability
This chapter discusses the issue of food waste and its implications for Planetary Health, particularly in Brazil, where approximately one-third of food produced is wasted. Highlighting the role of schools in promoting sustainable food practices, the authors propose a school-based, citizen science protocol aimed at engaging students in active learning experiences to understand and combat food waste. Preliminary findings suggest that such interventions can lead to behavioral changes among students, with some schools reporting a significant reduction in food waste. Additionally, the authors aimed to empower educators with training programs to implement similar initiatives in their schools.

“All major transformations are first made through small, manageable changes in our daily lives. In this context, each one, teacher and student alike, has an important role as an agent of behavior change.”

80 Diversity, Sustainability, and Innovation
This chapter discusses the Sustentarea Federal University of Goiás (UFG) project, a university extension center focused on promoting healthy and sustainable nutrition, sustainable food practices, and environmental sustainability through science-based materials and educational events.  The project aims to improve both the population's health and the planet's well-being by encouraging responsible eating habits. The authors partner with venues like the Agro-Family Midwest Fair that provides a platform for local farmers to exhibit their products and engage in discussions about agricultural practices and policies.

“The natural environment makes the development of life on our planet possible, however, waste, misuse, and carelessness towards natural resources impact people's quality of life and generate a multitude of environmental problems. Increasingly, it is necessary to think about our present and the next generation’s future.”

85 The Itinerant Career Space of the Federal University of Goiás
The Federal University of Goiás organized an exhibition space to showcase the work of Sustentarea UFG to the wider community. The aim was to share knowledge about traditional fruits of the Brazilian cerrado and Nonconventional Edible Plants (PANCs), emphasizing their importance in the local diet. The team used interactive resources like slides, videos, and a quiz game to engage visitors and educate them about the significance of incorporating these food sources into their regular meals. Their work emphasized the importance of accessibility in sharing knowledge, making education democratic and inclusive.

“…accessibility when sharing knowledge is essential, as this makes education democratic. In its fundamental triad of teaching, research, and extension, the academy needs to be prepared for the dialogue with the community, in order to make them allies in the planning and elaboration of activities that will benefit the collective.”

88 Vegetable Garden in Schools Project
The project responded to a demand from The Municipality of Goiana by establishing vegetable gardens in select public schools in the area. This initiative was aligned with the values of Sustentarea UFG, a university extension center focused on promoting healthy and sustainable nutrition. The primary objectives of the project were to enhance the nutritional quality of meals, reduce food expenses and waste, and promote the use of all parts of food and nonconventional edible plants in daily routines, thereby encouraging the consumption of fresh food and fostering a connection with nature.

“Engage with every person in the community where this audience exists; education is not solely limited to the young people learning, but their families and other residents of the local area.”

91 Planetary Health in Amazônia, Brazil
This chapter aims to address the pressing environmental challenges faced by the Brazilian Amazon through comprehensive educational materials, seeking to instill a deeper understanding of Planetary Health and an appreciation for the Amazon among younger generations. The material covers topics relevant to the Amazon region, including climate change and human impacts on the planet, air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, sustainable food practices, and gender equality. Through practical lessons, case studies, and interactive activities, the material provides educators with resources to engage students in meaningful discussions about environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

“…we believe that there is still hope for a sustainable future in which everyone understands our lives are interconnected with nature and that we need to act while there is still time. Join us, tread your path in favor of Planetary Health, and be part of this urgent cause. Allow yourself to take action that contributes to a sustainable future!”

101 Planet&Ar Project
Planet&Ar is an initiative focused on environmental care through the lens of Planetary Health, aiming to measure air pollution in vulnerable areas and promote education and citizen science; participants engage in biomonitoring, data collection, and community outreach. The project involves installing air quality sensors, conducting workshops with local communities, and implementing educational activities in public schools and community events to inform people about air pollution and its impacts on health. Overall, Planet&Ar aims to empower local communities to address environmental health concerns and promote sustainable practices for a healthier planet.

“This fight is not new, nor will we be able to win overnight. The best way to combat nonchalance for the environment and our health is to educate and pass on knowledge to the children and young people who will be our future leaders on climate issues.”

111 United for Climate Project
United for Climate is in an initiative of five young female activists, students, researchers, and professionals from Brazil; this chapter introduces us to these women and their work. The group plans to implement educational programs in schools. They aim to engage students through interactive activities and debates on topics such as climate impacts on cities or food security and environmental justice. By fostering awareness and empowering youth to take action, United for Climate hopes to inspire positive change both locally and globally, emphasizing the interconnectedness of environmental issues and the importance of collective action.

“We see we will make a big impact with our project, locally and globally, because, as we always say, local actions lead to global impacts and can change the world.”

124 Planetary Health and Intercultural Learning in a Residential Experience with K-12 Teachers
The chapter discusses a comprehensive initiative aimed at advancing teacher development in K-12 education. Spearheaded by the Delaware Teachers Institute (DTI), the program adopts a unique model that emphasizes leadership and knowledge enhancement. Teachers engaged with experts and Indigenous leaders through virtual seminars, and the group was immersed in the Peruvian Amazon alongside the Maijuna Indigenous community. These experiences not only enriched teachers' understanding but also enabled them to develop curriculum units grounded in cultural exchange, environmental stewardship, and respect for Indigenous communities.

“Rejecting a neocolonialist heritage of western cultures becomes fundamental to the function of this sort of collaborative educational proposal…”

140 Educational Knapsack
This chapter discusses the role of education in promoting holistic health perspectives among children. The Alforja Educativa project employs a child-to-child methodology to empower children as agents of change in their communities. Through various multisensory activities like tending to school vegetable gardens and using storytelling as a tool to learn about the microbial world, children engage in experiential learning about health, the environment, and intercultural understanding. The initiative also focuses on training educators and health professionals to integrate these topics into their practices. Ultimately, the goal is to foster impactful learning experiences that connect knowledge with personal experiences, promoting a deeper understanding of Planetary Health.

“Learning is possible when there is an emotional mediation connecting knowledge, personal experiences, and daily life. The body is a powerful conduit for learning; knowledge creation occurs through integral experience, engagement of the body, and when emotion and enjoyment are part of learning.”

149 Addendum & Further Information  

155 References
Contributors include: Tatiana Camargo, Ana Luiza, Barbara Prillaman, Beatriz Sinelli Laham, Brian M. Griffiths, Cássia Flávia Moreira Souza, Catarina Lorenzo, Christy Tapert, Cynthia Papettas, Donovan Humphrey Franco, Elizabeth Benson, Emanuel Ramalho, Gabriela Bosero, Gabriela Paes, Iane Kathleen, Jon Cox, Jussara Almeida Bezerra, Lívia Chaves Marcolin, Luís Gustavo Lopumo Arruda, Maíra Dantas, Merry Ostheimer, Mike Doody, Monica Cohen, Natalia Pirani Ghilardi-Lopes, Nelzair Vianna, Patricia Hermance, Paula Regina Humbelino de Melo, Raquel Santiago, Rebeca Muniz, Sheina Koffler, Silvina Alessio, Thaís Presa Martins, Vanessa Goes
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