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Earth Ethics Spring 2005, Vol.13(1)

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.

Defining 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.
• The ecologists, 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.
Serageldin emphasizes that any development proposal has to be tested against economic, ecological, and social sustainability. All three sides have to come together.

Learning 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.

Shifting 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 in Oceania..

Sustainability as Emergence: A Plea for Transformative Learning in Higher Education, by Arjen E. J. Wals and Peter Blaze Corcoran.

Background 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.

Engaging People 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.")

Institutions 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.

Critical Deliberation 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 and ecosystems.

Resources on Sustainable Development and Education for Sustainable Development.




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