As educators, you inspire your students to change the world. Now, you can give them the tools they need to make a difference.

The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Teachers’ Academies provide educators with the knowledge and resources needed to bring the science of sustainability into any K-12 classroom. Our approach leverages the expertise of  education professionals, like you, from across the nation to cultivate a community of sustainability change-makers. Together, we work to develop innovative strategies to address economic, social and environmental challenges we face.

Our professional development opportunities incorporate contemporary research by sustainability professionals, scientists and scholars from Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability. We aim to translate this research into effective practices that you can use to evaluate and address the complex problems facing your school and community. We promote researcher-practitioner partnerships, learning communities and project-based learning to position teachers, students and others as change agents to create a more sustainable future.

Rob and Melani Walton

Sustainability Teachers’ Academies

Since its inception in 2015, the Sustainability Teachers’ Academies have provided professional development opportunities to more than 3,000 teachers across the United States. STA has established more than 50 partnerships with school districts, nonprofit organizations and local governments to support projects that seek to improve local sustainability efforts. STA has grown to include three main programs:

The National Academy

Our Flagship program, the National Academy, has long served as a foundational professional development opportunity for teachers eager to weave sustainability concepts into their curriculums. 

Traditionally held as a one-week immersive experience, the program shifted to meet the needs of a changing world in 2020. From 2020 to 2023, professional development opportunities were offered in a virtual format and ran for two weeks each summer, welcoming between 20 and 30 dedicated educators for each cohort. Through these programs, participants collaborated with our knowledgeable staff to integrate sustainability science into their teaching plans and develop student-led sustainability projects. 

As a token of appreciation for their commitment, each participant receives a $300 stipend upon completion of the program. Additionally, an optional stipend of up to $300 is available for those who demonstrate exceptional integration of sustainability concepts into their curriculum.

Sustainability Learning Labs

Our Sustainability Learning Labs were created as an innovative platform for local educators to engage in the creation and implementation of hands-on professional development that promotes sustainable practices in classrooms and communities. Classroom activities are enriched through partnerships with local community organizations such as museums, small businesses and nonprofits. Community and local educators share in students’ work investigating the sustainability problems that are most important to their lives, crafting solutions that are attainable, relevant and consequential. These combined efforts help students see sustainability as a way of life, not just a subject learned in school.

These learning labs have been established on a national scale, fostering collaborations with local partners through our various programs. One standout example is the Storm Smart Schools Learning Lab for water education, made possible through funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and State Farm. Originating January 2023, this collaborative effort between STA, Watershed Management Group, EcoRise and five schools in the greater Phoenix area has been instrumental in advancing urban forestry and sustainability education.

The Sustainability Learning Labs program officially launched in 2021. Since its inception, we have established eight Learning Labs throughout the United States, including one Learning Lab on food waste prevention that has become a national initiative. Our Sustainability Learning Labs seek to address local sustainability concerns through an integrated and interdisciplinary approach, where program staff collaborate with community partners and regionally focused educators to identify issues and develop educational solutions to create a more sustainable and equitable society.

Fellowship programs

The STA Fellowship Programs first started in 2022 with the Futures Fellowship and offer educators funded opportunities to enhance their skills and contribute to the sustainability field. 

The Futures Fellowship, which is a year-long program, equips Fellows with comprehensive training and support in sustainability while also honing their abilities to facilitate adult learning. In addition to valuable professional and career development, participants receive a $2,000 stipend as recognition of their dedication and time commitment. 

Just like other fellowship programs, our initiatives offer a range of benefits. These include opportunities to expand personal and professional networks, participate in hands-on experiential learning and develop leadership skills crucial for career advancement. 

The success of the Futures Fellowship has paved the way to establish other fellowship programs such as the Underwriters Laboratory Research Institute (ULRI) Teaching Fellowship and the Engineering for One Planet Faculty Teaching Program. These fellowships not only provide valuable opportunities for educators, but also contribute to the broader mission of advancing education for a just, sustainable future and fostering leadership in this field.

Fellows from the Engineering for One Planet Faculty Teaching Fellowship discuss the changes they’ve made to their courses.

Getting in touch

Interested in exploring future opportunities with the Sustainability Teachers’ Academies? Please fill out the contact form below to subscribe to our biannual newsletter, where we share professional development workshops, new educational resources and other teacher opportunities!

Teacher Resources

The Sustainability Teachers’ Academy is committed to creating and providing curricular resources that span a diverse range of topics—including food systems sustainability, quality of life and well-being, decision-making for sustainability, and much more. Our lessons are applicable for grades 6-9 with variations presented that will enable you to tailor the activity for a younger or older audience. Because sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, these lessons are relevant across all class subjects.

Sustainability Teachers’ Academy Staff