Proven Sustainable

Globally minded materials spotlight the wisdom of resilient cultures

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Subjects & Topics

English Language Arts, Social Studies

Price: Free
Platforms: Web

Pros: Materials surface rarely taught perspectives. Inspirational, people-centered approach to decolonizing curriculum.

Cons: Not an off-the-shelf resource; it'll take some prep and thinking by teachers.

Bottom Line: This is a valuable resource, with perspectives often kept out of curricula, but it'll require a motivated teacher to turn it into actual lesson plans.

Proven Sustainable reminds us all that, despite the massive societal and environmental changes of the last 500 years, groups of people on each continent have fought to preserve their cultural traditions and a sustainable way of life. Proven Sustainable is one of the few  curricular resources that gets teachers and students to examine the cultural attitudes and social and economic systems that have caused issues like climate change. But what makes it special is how it then looks for inspiration and possibility in the sustainable ways of life of Indigenous peoples.

Proven Sustainable's photos, quotations, and question prompts can be used as discussion starters, project or writing prompts, or just a way to add a counterpoint to dominant histories your class might be encountering in textbooks or media. You won't find anything that's fully plug-and-play for your classroom, but Proven Sustainable isn't designed for that. Instead, it's designed to get students to ask questions about the hows and the whys of our history and our future. It's a perfect set of materials to use as you're building lessons or units, or looking for extension opportunities for students who want to expand their perspectives or tackle big social and cultural issues. Teachers should also take note that Proven Sustainable's materials feature a healthy focus on essential skills for media literacy, so they can offer alternatives to a lot of news and media literacy curricula that focus almost exclusively on U.S. and Western news media and popular culture.

Proven Sustainable is a free website that seeks to share the perspectives, experiences, and voices of Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, and other resilient cultures that have managed to live sustainably for at least 500 years. These perspectives are meant to help address and think through how broader worldviews must start to address global issues like climate change. To this end, the site offers learning materials focused on perspectives from 16 groups of people -- from the Inuit in the far northern hemisphere to the Khomani San in southern Africa. Proven Sustainable pairs quotations from representatives of these groups alongside images that highlight that group's cultural knowledge. For each group there's a background page and a slide deck with these quotes, images, and supporting contextual information for further research and exploration.

While these slide decks are the primary resources, there's some supporting content worth exploring. The Conversation Series features extended video conversations with Indigenous leaders. The About section offers some foundational information about the approach and ethics of the site.

Proven Sustainable is an impressive collection of images and quotations showcasing important perspectives on sustainability and culture. The slideshows provide a solid foundation from which to build, with compelling info and extensions, but they're not quite lesson plans or step-by-step learning materials. Teachers will need to place the slides within the context of a lesson they've designed; however, in that sense the materials can provide a useful starting point for a lesson or unit. Even so, the materials are truly unique and offer valuable, perspective-shifting points of view not only on sustainability but also on culture, colonization and decolonization, representation, and social change. 

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Overall Rating

There's tremendous potential in the materials, but engaging students with those materials will rely on a passionate, skilled teacher. Social justice-oriented students will appreciate the range of perspectives.


The content encourages a rethinking of the perspectives and goals of learning and teaching. Rarely taught perspectives are included, each with useful insights. Implementation is largely left up to teachers.


Resources are ready to use in the classroom, but there's room for PD focusing on best practices. The site has a clean design, although keyboard navigation is a little tricky. Slides include extension resources. 

Common Sense reviewer
James Denby
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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