Research Summary

Community education and green jobs: Acknowledging existing connection

The development of green jobs and community education go hand in hand

The purpose of this article was to address key elements for contributing to the successful development of “green jobs,” defined as “environmentally friendly employment.” The author asserts that green jobs should be more than environmentally friendly employment, but should also serve to advance the development of sustainable societies.

The author works from the premise that community-based adult education should support the development of green jobs. Griswold suggests three key elements needed for “developing community education programs that serve to support green jobs”: workforce development; STEM education; and community education for sustainability. She states, “Unifying these elements could create a web that would strengthen each of them and create an interlocking support system in which green jobs address economic, environmental and societal concerns.”

Examples of programs in which these three elements were successfully woven together are presented. One such instance is the Sustainable Living Center at Flint Hills Technical College in Emporia, Kansas. This program is designed to assists communities in “creating sustainable neighborhoods and developing future green jobs.” In the fall of 2012 the sustainability studies program launched a new associate’s degree focusing on preparing learners for green jobs, entrepreneurial skills, and community advocacy. A second example is “Breaking the Silence: Building a Sustainable Earth Community” in Kansas City, Kansas. The organization uses regional partnerships to facilitate environmental learning, and offers conferences that address social justice issues, such as the low rates of environmental literacy among low-income residents and “an environmental movement whose voice does not includes the needs and interests of many constituencies.”

In summary, this article advocates for the development of green jobs along with community education to enhance a community’s ecological literacy and contribute to the development of sustainable societies. Griswold concludes, “A higher level of ecological literacy among the citizenry will translate into collective action and political support for the creation of a green economy.”