Compass Education is an initiative of the AtKisson Group, a worldwide network of individuals and institutions who pursue sustainability practices in a variety of contexts. The AtKisson Group has worked extensively in the corporate and private sectors for over two decades using a suite of tools known as the VISIS Accelerator for accelerating progress toward sustainability. Since 2009 these tools have been adapted and evolved specifically for the formal education sector.

Pre-history: AtKisson connects with the Magic Eyes Barge

In 2001-2002 Alan AtKisson was invited by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to collaborate with the Magic Eyes Barge Program, which UNEP had recognized as the “best practice Environmental Education program” in Asia-Pacific. As a result, several Magic Eyes Barge Program Educators, including Robert Steele and Lynda Rolph, were introduced to the AtKisson Accelerator tools and began using them as a primary method in their sustainability training courses for change agents in education and media in Asia-Pacific.

The Compass Education concept

In 2005, the Barge Program was absorbed by Prem Center (now known as Traidhos Three Generation Community for Learning, which includes Prem Tinsulanonda International School). Lister Hannah, then Founding President at Prem, coordinated with Robert Steele bring Alan AtKisson in for an ISIS Accelerator workshop hosted at Prem. Among the participants of that workshop were several educators who wondered why these tools weren’t being taught to students! Alan AtKisson presented some of his concepts to students at Prem, who immediately connected well through the Sustainability Compass, and the Compass Education concept was born.

Early beginnings: Compass Education in practice

Alan AtKisson agreed to present at the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference in March 2009 and the EARCOS Administrators’ Conference in November 2009, which began diffusion of the Compass Education concept (called Compass Schools at that time). The first ‘Becoming A Compass School’ workshop, using the VISIS Accelerator tools modified specifically for educators, was hosted at Prem in October 2009. Materials were further adapted and refined for education, and a total of six ‘Becoming a Compass School’ workshops and four ‘Compass in the Classroom’ workshops were conducted for educators from 2009 – 2013.

In 2012 Tom McLean and his students at International School Manila (ISM) adopted Compass and Accelerator tools for the Global Issues Network (GIN) conference. With 45 schools and over 400 students learning to use the tools, it was a powerful diffusion of the Accelerator toolkit, allowing students to ‘Think Globally and Act Locally.’

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