The Education for Sustainable Development and Citizenship (ESDC) Programme is a Macmillan Education initiative whose vision is to design, deliver, and promote lessons, not only to develop students’ English skills, but also transform the world for the better. It incorporates the themes of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion themes and topics, and a practical framework for Global Citizenship Education (GCE). These lessons consist of classroom worksheets and teacher’s notes.

ESDC Lessons

At the heart of the ESDC program are the lessons (worksheets and teacher’s notes), which have been designed for teachers who want to teach appropriate content and skills whilst developing the concepts of Global Citizenship and Sustainability. Each lesson addresses one or more standards of the GCE Framework, and they can be used with any English course as supplementary material or as project work. Teachers can deliver a whole lesson around the worksheets or use the parts of it that better fit their students.

How to Use the Worksheets in Your Lessons:

  • Select a worksheet according to your students’ age group and language level (given in the teacher’s notes as a CEFR band). You may need to be flexible here and pick from a higher or lower linguistic level as some activities or texts might be more or less cognitively demanding.
  • As global skills are integrated throughout every activity, choose whether you wish to focus on Global Knowledge or Global Attitudes and Action. Each worksheet can be delivered independently, but some allow for continuity across the two domains.
  • When reading through the worksheet, consider how appropriate the content is within your teaching context.
  • In the teacher’s notes for every worksheet, you will find details of the standards and learning outcomes covered, the skills being practiced, and how the theme or topic relates to the SDGs.

The Stages of a Lesson:

  • Part 1 – Warmer: This introduces the topic, key vocabulary, and ideas to set up the rest of the activities.
  • Part 2 – Main Activity: This is usually a receptive-skills task (reading/listening) that explores the main theme.
  • Part 3 – Application: This gives students a chance to see how the theme relates to themselves and their community, offering an opportunity to express their own viewpoints and personalize the topic.
  • Extension: at the end of each worksheet, there is a collaborative task, game, or project that allows students an opportunity for group research and further reflection on the topic
  • To support students and teachers, there is an International English Vocabulary Box which highlights differences in vocabulary choice and spelling between American and British English, e.g., trash vs rubbishcenter vs centre, and more.

SDG themes

The ethos of the ESDC program comes out of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, set in 2015, that have been designed to focus the world’s attention on creating a future in which people live in a more equitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable way. The 17 goals comprise detailed targets that cover all aspects of life1. The ESDC program draws on the themes of these goals as the context for its educational resources. Although most of these targets are specifically directed at governments or businesses rather than schools, our unique program offers a practical way to apply and incorporate these ideas into your English classroom to teach students about the core principles of the SDGs and enable them to make a positive difference.

Inclusive Content and Teaching

A key aim of the ESDC program is the development of inclusive content and teaching materials. The program’s resources explicitly acknowledge and celebrate the rich diversity of the world. ESDC teaching materials respect the breadth of human experience through the content of the texts and activities and the images used to illustrate them. This means, not only celebrating cultural diversity in the world, but also reflecting groups that may have been marginalized in the past on account of age, disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, or body type, amongst others. It is hoped that through the inclusion of, for example, atypical family structures, alongside more mainstream depictions, that all teachers and students feel represented and valued.

A Global Citizenship Education Framework

Resources within the ESDC program are also aligned to Macmillan Education’s new framework for Global Citizenship Education. This is one interpretation of GCE and it comes in response to growing interest in global citizenship from teachers and educational institutions. The framework aims to translate theory into practice and meet educators’ concerns about how to implement GCE.

The framework addresses 4 age groups: Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary, and Adults. Despite the divided academic theory, it is possible to discern some common themes that constitute a global citizen and they are:

  • being ‘globally oriented or aware’ (Global Knowledge)
  • being ‘globally active’ (Global Attitudes and Action)
  • being ‘globally skilled’ (Global Skills)

It is therefore these three elements around which the core of the framework is built. These domains are defined as: giving students Knowledge about global citizenship, developing students’ Attitudes so that they become globally aware, and engage in suitable Actions with the aim of promoting social justice and transforming the world for the better of all, and building up the Skills required by a global citizen. This combination ensures that the framework does not present GCE as a passive educational experience. This is important because GCE should not just develop student knowledge about a global issue (such as the environment), but rather it should also transform students behavior and actions. 

At each level, the domains are clarified through standards (common to all levels) which, in turn, are sub-divided into age-specific measurable learning outcomes suitable for classroom and extracurricular activities. These learning outcomes are adjusted for different linguistic and cognitive levels across the age groups, recognizing that GCE represents lifelong learning and that a scaffolded approach is most effective.

GCE is complementary to the SDGs. It provides the educational foundations of knowledge and skills to enable learners to make informed choices about their community and the wider world and exposes them to the background themes of each SDG. The knowledge and skills gained, alongside the development of a positive attitude enhanced by the experience of putting all they have learned into action, sets learners up for a lifelong contribution to sustainable development. The framework opens students’ eyes to the importance of personal, societal, economic and political change, equipping them with the knowledge and skills for engaging in the efforts to achieve the SDGs.

Program Conclusions and Further Reading

The ESDC program supports teachers to deliver stimulating lessons that will engage students in real-world issues and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitude to face a challenging world as active global citizens. To learn more, read our article on the foundations of GCE and watch a downloadable video here, or have a look at detailed tips on implementing these themes in your classroom in this article and accompanying video.




¹The 17 UN SDGs: No poverty; Zero hunger; Good health and well-being; Quality education; Gender equality; Clean water and sanitation; Affordableand clean energy; Decent work and economic growth; Industry, innovation and infrastructure; Reduced inequalities; Sustainable cities and communities; Responsible consumption and production; Climate action; Life below water; Life on land; Peace, justice and strong institutions; Partnerships for the goals. Source: