Our iCREST Education Initiative is now the independent US-based 501(c) iCREST Foundation

 Please check out www.icrestfoundation.org for more details






The fledgling iCREST education initiative is dedicated to building an Earth resilience literacy among high schoolers worldwide. The goal is to enable students to examine sustainability and resilience choices using data and models, and then, empowered with narrative and storytelling skills, become effective advocates for sensible solutions. iCREST is the initiative of the International Centre for Earth Simulation, a Swiss foundation embracing resilience, sustainability, ecology, and holistic modeling. The iCREST Education Advisory Board (EAB - see below) brings a wide range of expertise to the enterprise. Through its multipronged focus, iCREST aims to enable its youthful participants to contribute to community wellbeing and grow to be wise, civically engaged adults.


iCREST is aiming to provide a web-based system that allows students to do research to answer the question "What do data and model predictions say about the sustainability and resilience of my community?" and then help them tell the story of their findings. The community focus has a wide range of possible definitions from the school, neighborhood or park to larger entities. Likewise, the aspect of sustainability or resilience could range over factors such as potable water, land use, energy sources, transportation, pollution, food security, flood and fire management.

The iCREST system will ultimately be a living product (or service) and available for public use by almost anyone. Formal educators for example could base assignments on this service and students, families and other individuals could use it on their own. Informal educators and youth groups could also put the iCREST system to use. Users’ stories might have the structure of the “answer” or “strong recommendation”, presenting the challenge to achieve it; the journey being what the student has learned and how he/she has reached a conclusion, including a proposal of what should be done to increase community sustainability or resilience and what community benefits would result.

The project aims to start with motivated youngsters, potential leaders, and later, when its operations are perfected, expand to reach less motivated populations. We are piloting the program with the help of Prof.
Hans-Peter Plag and his Sustainability Leadership course at the Mitigation & Adaptation Institute, of the Old Dominion University, Virginia

                   The Inaugural iCREST EAB Education Advisory Board - September 2017 Harvard GSE


From iCREST’s perspective, the foundational knowledge for coping with the challenges facing society and the Earth’s life-support system revolve around four major skill sets: resilience and sustainability literacy skills; computer modeling, simulation and visualization from large data sets; and storytelling with narrative skills.

Earth resilience and sustainability literacy skills

iCREST sees these as the capabilities to stay abreast of the interaction between nature and society, linking them to an ethical value base, analyzing and interpreting relevant evidence while accounting for cognitive biases, and making informed and evidence-based decisions regarding resilience and sustainability issues and trade-offs, fostering a populace capable of safeguarding the planet’s life-support system. This goes beyond a simple focus on climate change awareness curricula,  complementing them with an holistic view of all human interactions with the planetary life-support system. iCREST wants its participants to have the skills to stay engaged and relevant as circumstances change.

Computer modeling, simulation and visualization

For iCREST this refers to the use, development and critical assessment of computer-based decision-support tools for Earth sustainability problem solving, drawing in relevant geographic, environmental and other data to numerical models  and thus grappling with local “what-if” questions and “wicked” problem scenarios.

Storytelling and narrative skills

iCREST appears to be unique in its focus on storytelling and narrative skills: the ability to communicate and advocate positions concerning a sustainable relationship between humans and the Earth's life-support system and resilience with convincing, memorable, and engaging skill, to empower participantsto effectively reach peers and members of their communities and to counter unsupported arguments of those who would ignore and deny emerging issues, challenges, and possible solutions.

Community advocacy to drive meaningful change

A Secondary Agenda: Fostering Evidence and Model Based Decision Making

Decision makers’ sustainability and resilience conversations too often depend largely on anecdotes. iCREST wants to provide an environment for students to learn how decisions can be based on, and informed by, data, models and logical thinking. By their example, the project aims to improve appreciation of the value of evidence for decision making, particularly for those who have limited experience with evidence. As iCREST builds understanding of what data and models are good for, it aims to preserve the power of anecdotes in data and model-based narratives using effective storytelling skills. 

It will also familiarize students and others with potentially relevant modeling options such as,

SageModeler: A general-purpose online quantitative modeling system designed for use by HS students. SageModeler is supported by considerable online related material and usage experience.

Participatory Modeling: A purposeful learning process, sometimes likened to a game, for action that engages the implicit and explicit knowledge of stakeholders to create formalized and shared representations of reality, particularly where there are competing interests. An example could be participants taking roles as farmers, cattlemen and foresters working to satisfy competing interests while sustaining tracts of “preserved” forested land.

Resilience.io :An evolving cloud-based regional planning platform, which gathers satellite, sub-orbital, and ground-based Earth observations, open government and crowd-sourced economic, social, and environmental data together in one place, in an understandable, palatable and visual format to integrate human-ecological-economic systems and calculate the impacts of economic, human and ecological activity and the consequences for human well-being. With this base, it can be used to visualize and predict the outcome of different scenarios which results in better planning and decision-making. For student use, iCREST envisions a simplified version of the platform at some future date.

Backcasting: An analytic technique that starts from a desired set of outcomes at a future time and asks what set of control factors (inputs) would be needed to achieve them for a given starting time. With the iCREST system students would derive implications for the present and future strategies given the future they hope for.

                       iCREST Education Advisory Board - Feb 2019 Summit, UC Berkeley Faculty Club
                             iCREST Education Advisory Board Members


The iCREST Education Advisory Board is aimed at bringing Earth Sustainability Literacy elements of the Foundation’s program to the worldwide system of high schoolers and schools. In so doing, it hopes to encourage good planetary stewardship and improved public health, safety and wellbeing through student learning and engagement.

iCREST’s education strategy and Advisory Board is led by Dr. Nelson Heller, a global expert in educational publishing, technology and product strategy.

Dr. Heller is a pioneer whose conferences and news publications facilitated the development of the markets for educational technology products for schools, colleges and universities worldwide. He began The HellerReports news service and EdNET conferences, both leading venues for education industry executives, in 1989. Nelson’s annual “View from the Catbird Seat” at EdNET conferences have anticipated countless education market developments, including the Internet, online content and service marketplaces, e-books, cloud services, social learning platforms, educational recommendation engines, and the globalization of education markets. Dr. Heller is recipient of the “Making It Happen” education industry award and, in 2009, was inducted into the K-12 education industry’s Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Nelson holds a PhD degree from University of Pennsylvania, Masters and graduate Engineers degrees from MIT and an EE degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He’s a member of the UCSD Rady School of Management Mentors and Advisors Network.

Dr. Heller chairs the iCREST Education Advisory Board consisting of the following individuals:

Dr. Robert Bishop, President & Founder of the International Centre for Earth Simulation Foundation, ex officio member



Dr. Dixon M. Butler

Dr. Dixon Butler received degrees from Harvard and Rice Universities and joined NASA in 1976 where he did ozone depletion research, managed stratospheric and solar terrestrial research, led the planning of EOS, and oversaw all Earth science satellite operations and data systems and the early development of EOSDIS. From 1996 to 2003 at the GLOBE Program he was Chief Scientist and eventually Director. From 2003 through 2010, Dr. Butler served on the staff of the House Committee on Appropriations. Since retiring from federal service in 2011, he has advised NASA on the revitalization of the GLOBE Program and in 2014 founded Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Science (YLACES.org). Dr. Butler received the 2015 Cleveland Abbe award from the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Butler also serves as President of the Virginia Environmental Endowment.




Mr. Dan Damelin


Daniel Damelin, Senior Scientist at the non-profit Concord Consortium, has worked in the field of education for 25 years, as a teacher, curriculum and technology developer, professional development leader, and educational researcher. Dan has worked on numerous NSF and foundation funded projects that resulted in open educational resources to support the learning of science through simulation and data visualization, inquiry-oriented curriculum and pedagogy, and formative assessment.

Dan is currently Principal Investigator for several projects focused on modeling, curricular development, and assessment related to the Next Generation Science Standards. For the past 17 years he has been involved in many projects at the Concord Consortium, with a common thread of helping students discover the nature of the world around them and helping teachers to utilize tools and pedagogical techniques to support student inquiry. He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, computer science, and environmental studies, as well as a Master’s in Education from Tufts University. Before working at the Concord Consortium, he taught high school chemistry for 14 years and worked as a professional software engineer. Damelin is also co-author of a high school chemistry textbook, “A Natural Approach to Chemistry," published by LabAids.


Dr. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl is Executive Director of the National Writing Project (NWP), a network of nearly 185 literacy-focused professional development and research communities located at universities across all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Based at the University of California-Berkeley, the NWP leads nationally-networked learning and research initiatives for educators working in K-12, university, and out-of-school settings. 

A recipient of the Hollis Caswell Award for Curriculum Studies, Eidman-Aadahl holds a Ph.D. in curriculum theory from the University of Maryland College Park. Her scholarship includes studies of literacy and learning in the context of our new digital, networked ecology as well as research into how educators of diverse backgrounds research and reason together about this social transformation, literacy, equity, and agency for themselves and their youth. She is a broadly published author and presenter.

Prior to becoming Executive Director, Eidman-Aadahl directed National Programs and Site Development for the NWP where she developed many of NWP's signature national programs and partnerships. Her recent work involves educators in schools, libraries, and museums as they rethink their teaching and learning environments with a view toward digital composition and production, connected learning, equity, and civic engagement. In that regard, Elyse is the founder of NWP's Digital Is project and community, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative (DML), and is a member of the DML's Youth and Participatory Politics research network. She is a founding member of the Connected Learning Alliance and helped establish the YOUmedia Learning Labs network, the Make to Learn Initiative, and the Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age project.

Formerly a high school English and journalism teacher, university professor, and evaluation consultant, Eidman-Aadahl has conducted action research and evaluation programs for organizations as diverse as the YWCA, the Mongolian Open Society Institute, and numerous organizations focused on youth development and civic learning. Current partnerships include leading projects that engage partners in science and maker/tinkering communities to theorize the relationship of literacy to efforts in STEM/STEAM education. 

Dr. Tony Murphy

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Murphy, a nationally recognized innovator in teacher training and science education, is director of The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program Implementation Office (GIO). GIO is headquartered at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation (UCAR). Dr. Murphy moved to UCAR on from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he served as executive director of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education. (The STEM acronym denotes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.)
Murphy’s expertise meshes well with the goals of GLOBE, which connects students, teachers, and scientists from around the world through hands-on learning to better understand, sustain, and improve Earth’s environment at local, regional, and global scales. More than 10 million students and 24,000 trained teachers from more than 28,000 schools in 117 countries have participated in GLOBE since the program began in 1995.
While at St. Catherine University, Murphy developed a model for pre-service teacher training that structures science teaching with age-appropriate investigations of atmosphere, hydrology, and soils that employ GLOBE protocols. In addition, Murphy played an integral role in developing the university’s STEM center into the nation’s only elementary education department that requires STEM certification of all graduates.
Murphy has been associated with GLOBE since the program’s inception, including through his role as a Knauss Policy Fellow with NOAA. Funded primarily by NASA with support from NSF, with additional support from NOAA and the Department of State, GLOBE is an innovative way for teachers to get students of all ages excited about scientific discovery, locally and globally. To date, more than 134 million measurements have been contributed to the GLOBE database, creating meaningful, standardized, global research-quality data sets that can be used in support of student and professional scientific research.
GLOBE science investigations are divided into four spheres: atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil (pedosphere). The program incorporates extensive hands-on teacher training, an interactive website, social tools, and international partner support. To learn more visit the website www.globe.gov


Prof. Hans-Peter Plag

  Professor, Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Director, Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute, Old Dominion University


After some years as a carpenter, Hans-Peter Plag studied mathematics and geophysics in Berlin and obtained his Ph.D. in Natural Sciences in 1988 from the Free University of Berlin. From 1988 to 1997, he was head of a research group in geodynamics at the University of Kiel, Germany. During that time, he was also active in environmental movements and later a member of the Green Party. Among others, he was the lead author of a concept for waste reduction and recycling, which contributed to a significant reduction in waste and an increase in recycling. In his teaching, he introduced the students to the concept of sustainability and challenged them with the question of how earth sciences can contribute to a successful quest for a sustainable development.

In 1995, Hans-Peter worked for five months at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Bidston, UK. From 1997 to 2004, he was head of the Global Reference department at the Geodetic Institute of the Norwegian Mapping Authority in Norway, where he also was a professor of Mathematical Models in Geodesy at the University of Oslo. From 2004 to 2012, he was a research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and affiliated with the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

From 2012 to 2013, Hans-Peter held the chair on Global Change and Sustainability and was the director of the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute (GCSRI), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He also was a visiting professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, from 2010 to 2015. In June 2013, he joined Old Dominion University (ODU), in Norfolk, Virginia, as co-director of the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative and as a professor in the department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Science. Since March 2014, he has been the founding director of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) at ODU.

In his career, Hans-Peter has participated in numerous international projects, often as lead; chaired international programs and committees; organized numerous international workshops and conferences, often as chair of the program and/or organizing committees; edited many special issues and proceedings; and coordinated and edited two international and interdisciplinary community reports. Since 1994, he has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Geodynamics and since 1996 editor-in-chief for geodesy for Physics and Chemistry of the Earth. Since 2013, he is publishing the column "On the Edge" in ApogeoSpatial, where he comments on issues of global change, unsustainability, global risk governance, decisions and biases, and the creation of knowledge, among other topics.

Hans-Peter's main fields of expertise are in sustainability, global and climate change, local to global sea-level changes, Earth system dynamics, solid Earth geophysics, space geodesy, and geodetic reference frames. He has provided scientific advice to private companies and governmental committees, particularly with respect to future sea-level rise. Since 2003, he has participate in  activities of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), which is implementing the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) with a vision of a future where decisions are informed by coordinated Earth Observations.

In recent years, he increasingly focuses on humanity's connection to the Earth's life-support system (ELSS). Realizing that the flows of materials and energy between the ELSS and humanity are all organized and managed within human economy, he concluded that safeguarding the ELSS must be integral to the purpose of a sustainable economy.


                                      iCREST Education Initiative - Board Consultants

Karen Cowe
Chief Executive Officer of Ten Strands

As CEO of Ten Strands, a unique education sector catalyst organization focused on environmental literacy, Karen works to achieve the company’s mission and vision that all California students deserve a high-quality education that promotes achievement, health, and wellbeing with the understanding that we have a unique opportunity at this moment to ensure that happens. More specifically, the mission is to strengthen the partnerships and strategies that will bring environmental literacy to all of California’s K–12 students. The vision is a world where everyone understands and experiences the interrelatedness of people and place; where all students have access to high-quality education with an environmental component; and where all people have the knowledge, awareness, and ability to make decisions that promote health and wellbeing for themselves and their communities.
Since its founding in late 2012, Ten Strands has succeeded in winning placement of environmental literacy as a required component of California’s K-12 curriculum and instruction in science, history-social science, and health, and facilitated development of instructional resources to support it. 
Karen is an education-industry executive with 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, professional development, business development, and operations. Prior to joining Ten Strands she was President and CEO of Key Curriculum Press, where she worked with curriculum leaders and teachers to introduce innovative, inquiry-based math and science instructional materials and learning tools to students. Karen combines her deep personal interest in environmental stewardship and place- based education with her education industry experience.
Frank Niepold
Climate Education Coordinator at NOAA's Climate Program Office
Frank Niepold is the Climate Education Coordinator at NOAA's Climate Program Office in Silver Spring Maryland, Climate.gov Education section lead, a co-chair of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Education Interagency Working Group, the U.S. Climate Action Report Education, Training, and Outreach chapter lead for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Education and Youth delegate for the United States at the 2015 Conference of Parties (COP21), and a member of the Federal Steering Committee for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). At NOAA, he develops and implements NOAA's Climate goal education and outreach efforts that specifically relate to NOAA's Climate goal and literacy objective. Frank is the “Teaching Climate” lead for NOAA’s Climate.gov web portal that offers learning activities and curriculum materials, multi-media resources, and professional development opportunities for formal and informal educators who want to incorporate climate science into their work. Additionally, he is the managing lead of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) document, Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science. NOAA, NSF, NASA, AAAS Project 2061, CIRES, American Meteorological Society, and various members from both the science and education community worked to define climate literacy in the United States.
He received a MSEd in Earth Space Science Education (2006) from John's Hopkins University with areas of concentration in Earth Observing Systems, Scientist/Teacher/Student Collaboration and Earth Systems science education focused on climate. 


Sara Chaves Beam

Instructor, Marine and Environmental Sciences, Chesapeake Bay Governor's School (CBGS)  for Marine and Environmental Science - Glenns Campus

Sara Chaves Beam is Instructor, Marine and Environmental Sciences at the Chesapeake Bay Governor's School (CBGS)  for Marine and Environmental Science - Glenns Campus where she has been on the faculty since 2007.  The school provides a community of learners the opportunity to explore connections among the environment, math, science, and technology. In addition, CBGS develops leaders who possess the research and technical skills, global perspective, and vision needed to address the challenges of a rapidly changing society. CBGS provides high-ability and gifted students with a rigorous curriculum through enrichment, exploratory, investigative, and career awareness experiences. Through the integration of math, science, technology, and research, woven with marine and environmental sciences, students can foster an appreciation and respect for environmental issues. In addition, students may earn dual enrollment credits for each course through an affiliated community college.


Mrs. Beam has been teaching marine and environmental science for over 25 years, with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Barrier Island Environmental Education Center, and the University of Maine. Mrs. Beam has swum with sea lions in the Galapagos, seen blue whales in the Gulf Stream, and climbed to the summit of Mt. Kenya in east Africa twice. She brings this diverse outdoor and educational experience to CBGS, where she teaches Foundations of Science and Marine & Environmental Science I & II. She believes that pairing classroom work with field studies allows educators “to give context and reality to classroom learning and add sensory understanding to the science we are learning”. The fun memories students and teachers alike make on these trips also helps to solidify concepts. She is looking forward to making more memories with CBGS students and adding them to the CBGS family. “I have two children of my own, but my CBGS family is always growing!” she says. She attended the University of Virginia where she earned an Environmental Science- B.A. and the University of Maine where she earned an M.S. in Oceanography.




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