About Us

The Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network’s (GPSEN) logo is a mandala, representing many significant images and philosophies in the greater Portland region.


The Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network (GPSEN) is a multi-sector network of educators, students, non-profits, political and industry leaders, organizations, and community members collaborating to promote sustainability education in the Portland Metro region, including Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties, in Oregon, and Clark County in Washington.

Acknowledged as a Regional Center of Expertise (RCE) on education for sustainable development (ESD), by the United Nations University, in 2013, we are part of a coalition of 146 RCEs around the world.

We were recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2015 and have established a new partnership structure and development plan to expand our capacity to help create a sustainable future – focused on the Greater Portland Metro area, and linking our work with global efforts.


We are committed to creating a progressive, egalitarian governance model that reflects our values, supports collaboration among our partners, identifies committee structures and pathways that facilitate implementation of our objectives, distributes authority and decision-making across the network, and honors the volunteer efforts of our members.


GPSEN envisions a healthy, just, and thriving region where education for sustainability is prioritized and integrated across sectors; and where everyone has opportunities to shape a sustainable future.


GPSEN connects diverse organizations in a collaborative network that multiplies our collective capacity to educate, empower, and engage for a sustainable future.



We believe in the power of: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. We embrace practices that support care for self, care for each other, and care for Earth. We commit to using a systems-based approach that honors interdependence, nurtures meaningful relationships and networks, and fosters synergies, allowing our communities, environment, and economies to thrive.

Inclusive participation

We commit to living our values by working together to ensure a resilient and thriving Greater Portland, both now and into the future. This involves respect for diversity of all ages and generations, nationalities, educational levels, and socioeconomic groups. We value and draw from the knowledge and wisdom of all participants, locally and globally, and recognize that expertise comes from lived experience. All voices must be involved, welcomed, and fully heard to create a community that is not only sustainable but also flourishing.

Equity and Environmental Justice

We promote equity and social and environmental justice, in order to help create healthy, vibrant, and thriving communities. Inequities must be honestly examined so that environmental, social, and economic benefits and burdens are shared in fair and equitable ways.

Transparency and Accountability

We commit to being open and honest in our governance and practices, providing access to our records, creating feedback loops for improvement, and modeling true learning as an organization, through our mistakes and successes.


We value and invest in visionary processes, technologies, and solutions-based strategies that empower lifelong learners to critically examine the foundations of social issues and engage in their communities. Through innovation, dialogue, resource sharing, community-based research and transformative, lifelong learning, we will offer avenues to help develop local and global solutions.

Transformative Learning

Our network is dedicated to thinking outside the box and creating opportunities where varying ways of teaching, learning, and knowing can thrive.

Goals and Objectives

We define sustainability to include social, economic, and environmental dimensions that promote healthy, just, and thriving communities where education for sustainable development (ESD) is prioritized and integrated across sectors and where everyone has opportunities to shape a more sustainable future.

Goal 1

Continuously build and maintain a vibrant and diverse regional cross-sector network of individuals and organizations advancing education for sustainability together

  • Objective A. Establish partnerships that facilitate inclusive and culturally diverse participation and collaboration across sectors and organizations
  • Objective B. Convene events where everyone is welcome to discuss and share ideas related to ESD and social equity issues
  • Objective C. Share research and innovative practices in ESD to promote partnerships, learning, whole institution approaches, and advancements across the region
  • Objective D. Model our values in our GPSEN practices and processes

Goal 2

Advance the development of lifelong sustainability learning opportunities in formal, non-formal, and informal education, training, and public awareness

  • Objective A. Develop and provide access to an array of ESD information and resources through online platforms
  • Objective B. Create and promote ESD programming and curriculum that meet the needs and skill sets of a diverse audience
  • Objective C. Create and support opportunities for ESD capacity-building and workforce development

Goal 3

Increase public awareness about regional sustainability issues and the role of ESD in shaping a healthy, just, and thriving future

  • Objective A. Develop and implement outreach strategies that raise public awareness and increase involvement in ESD
  • Objective B. Create opportunities for public dialogue on ESD policies and issues

Goal 4

Support capacity building to develop global citizens who will steward our region for current and future generations and foster trust and healthy relationships in communities

  • Objective A. Offer leadership development and engagement opportunities
  • Objective B. Create and promote ESD service-learning projects
  • Objective C. Develop networks that empower and mobilize youth to engage in their communities

Goal 5

Identify and secure funding sources to support resource development and staff capacity to achieve the mission of the RCE

  • Objective A. Work with the Development Committee to identify priorities and opportunities
  • Objective B. Hire staff to meet operational needs

These efforts are also guided by UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD [pdf] which focuses on 5 Priority Action Areas:

  1. Advancing policy: Mainstream ESD
  2. Transforming learning and training environments: Whole-Institution Approach
  3. Building capacities of educators and trainers
  4. Empowering and mobilizing youth
  5. Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level

For more details on the GAP in the U.S., check out GAP Roadmap Recommendations.

Examples of Projects

  • Innovative cross-sector partnerships that promote collaboration and build collective impact
  • Co-sponsored projects that support transformative education, research, and community engagement
  • Outreach through website, newsletter, and social media
  • Development of a sustainability asset map for the region, with a speakers bureau, events, curricula, research, and grant opportunities
  • Professional development opportunities and summits for ESD students, educators, and community members
  • Events and opportunities for networking, idea-sharing, and policy discussions
  • Community engagement projects and service-learning
  • Youth and College Student Networks
  • Internship and Fellows Programs
  • Public awareness and outreach campaigns

For more details, check out our annual reports:
Annual Report 2016
Annual Report 2015
Annual Report 2014 [doc]

For Frequently Asked Questions, go to GPSEN/RCE FAQs.