With the United Nations Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development launched in March 2005, we have a unique opportunity for
a global dialogue on the theory and practice of education for sustainable development
(ESD). This issue of Earth Ethics provides a diversity of perspectives
on the nature of sustainable development, and education to foster it, as a contribution
to this ongoing dialogue.
Envisioning Education for Sustainable
Development, by Richard M. Clugston and Wynn Calder. The authors recognize
there is still considerable debate over the meaning of sustainable development
(SD). A great task is to shape education, training and awareness initiatives that
prepare individuals to practice sustainable living in their diverse cultural and
social contexts. A Worldwatch Institute paper published in 2003 entitled "What
Is Sustainability, Anyway?" considers the concept of sustainability in terms
of four dimensions: human survival, biodiversity, equity, and life quality. Four
definitions of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) were composed by participants
at the Halifax Consultation hosted by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada,
2005: 1. the flourishing of rich cultural and biological diversity; 2. forms of
governance that are democratic, open, participatory, and socially just; 3. economics
that are equitable, accountable, and bioregionally sound; and 4. business and
industry that learns from and works with nature to limit the full life cycle costs
of consumption and production.
Seven Common Sustainability Themes,
by Andres Edwards. He identifies the following as seven themes common to
various perspectives on sustainability: Stewardship, Respect for limits, Interdependence,
Economic restructuring, Fair distribution, Intergenerational perspective, and
Nature as a model and teacher. Edwards, A. R. 2005. The Sustainability
Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift. New Society Publishers, 128-130.
Environmentally Sustainable Development, by Ismail Serageldin. What
is environmentally sustainable development? The Brundtland Commission definition
states that sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs. That definition is philosophically acceptable, but not operationallly useful.
Better progress must be made to integrate the viewpoints of three disciplines:
The economists, whose methods seek to maximize human welfare within the
constraints of existing capital stock and technologies.
who stress preserving the integrity of ecological sub-systems, although a
less extreme view aims at maintaining the resilience and dynamic adaptability
of natural life-support systems.
The sociologists, who emphasize
that the key actors are human beings, whose patterns of social organization are
crucial for devising viable solutions to achieving sustainable development.
emphasizes that any development proposal has to be tested against economic, ecological,
and social sustainability. All three sides have to come together.
Our Way to a Sustainable and Desirable World: Ideas Inspired by Arne Naess and
Deep Ecology, by Harold Glasser. Arne Naess coined the terms deep
ecology and shallow ecology to juxtapose what he regarded as two radically
different approaches for responding to the ecological crisis. Dr. Glasser writes
the purpose of deep ecology as an ecophilosophical approach to environmental problems
helps people weave together their beliefs, philosophy, total views. It calls for
expanding concern to all living beings--wide-identification--characterized
by the perception that all life is interdependent. Remedy is sought by responding
to the complex root causes. Shallow ecology's core premises are treating the symptoms
and "all environmental problems are manageable." Glasser coined the
term "ecocultural sustainability" to refer to a state and process that
is both desirable and ecologically sound. He believes any thoughtful consideration
of sustainability demands a careful examination of four key questions: What
are we trying to sustain? For whom? For how long? Who decides for the whom? He
provides references for detailed versions and discussions of deep ecology.
Sights: The Cultural Challenge of Sustainability, by Konai H. Thaman. Author
states that an awareness of the difference between the Western, linear, financial
driven notion of time and the circular perception of Oceanic cultures--in which
the the past, present and future are combined within an all embracing "now"--is
a prerequisite to any discourse on sustainable development. This awareness is
the first major cultural challenge for research in and education for sustainability
in a culturally diverse region, such as the Asia/Pacific Islands. Thaman cites
several reasons why it is imperative to incorporate traditional wisdom and local,
indigenous knowledge and processes in the university research and teaching agenda
in the Asia/Pacific region. Culture is the foundation of sustainable development
Sustainability as Emergence: A Plea for Transformative Learning
in Higher Education, by Arjen E. J. Wals and Peter Blaze Corcoran.
of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), from the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This brief background
summarizes the origin of ESD, demonstrates the critical links between quality
education and ESD, outlines the four major education thrusts of ESD from Chapter
36 of Agenda 21, and lists ESD's key characteristics.
in Sustainability, by Daniella Tilbury and David Wortman. The authors
reason that the quest for sustainability demands new approaches, rather than focusing
solely on conveying a body of knowledge. Educators require a new set of skills.
People are not only able to explore relationships between their lives, the environment,
social systems and institutions, but also to become active participants and decision-makers
in the change process. A brief summary of requirements for learning sustainable
development is listed.
The Ahmedabad Declaration, from the Centre
for Environment Education (CEE). This Declaration was made on January 20,
2005, by more than 900 participants from over 50 countries, engaged in education
for sustainable development at the Education for a Sustainable Future conference
held at CEE, Ahmedabad, India. The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
2005-2014 was opened in Ahmedabad. (Excerpted from "Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development: Taking it Forward Together.")
of Higher Education (IHEs) and Issues of Education for Sustainable Development,
by Rosalyn McKeown and Charles Hopkins with Hans van Ginkel. Based
on the four major thrusts of education to support a sustainable future identified
in Chapter 36 of Agenda 21, the authors consider the role that IHEs could play
in each of the thrusts. a) IHEs should make sure that curricula educate children
and students to lead sustainable lives and weave sustainability into their occupations.
b) IHEs should consider what should be added to or removed from an institution's
curriculum so that it contributes sufficiently to a more sustainable society.
c) IHEs have opportunities to impact public information and service campaigns
by working with media to raise awareness of sustainability issues and sustainable
lifestyles. d) An IHE should ask questions about ways that IHEs could contribute
to training and what degree program or specialisation the particular IHE has expertise
in training, such as adult education within some faculties of education that deal
with training and training-the-trainer programs.
on "Sustainable Development" as an Orienting Framework for Educational
Action, by Heila Lotz-Sisitka.
How the Earth Charter Can
Give Meaning to Education for Sustainable Development, by Peter Blaze Corcoran.
Educational Uses of the Earth Charter, by Peter Blaze Corcoran.
What is Education for Sustainable Development? by Joanna
D. Underwood and Mia MacDonald. The authors present several terms and challenges
of education for sustainable development. Notably, sustainable development presents
two different sets of challenges, one for those living in the industrialized world
(the Northern hemisphere) and another for the countries in the "developing"
nations (the Southern hemisphere). In the North, the challenge of sustainability
is to reduce high consumption and waste levels that have adverse and long-term
environmental impacts. In the South, the challenge is to meet current human needs
for food, shelter, health care, education and employment without depleting resources
Resources on Sustainable Development and Education for
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