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Sustainability 1

March 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Category: Remodeling Contractor

Education is a necessary tool for achieving sustainability. People around the world recognize that current economic development trends are not sustainable and that public awareness, education, and training are key to moving society toward sustainability. Beyond that, there is little agreement. People argue about the meaning of sustainable development and whether or not it is within reach. They have different visions of what sustainable societies will look like and how they will function. These same people wonder why educators have not moved more quickly to develop education for sustainability (EFS) programs. The lack of agreement and definition has stymied efforts to move education for sustainable development (ESD) forward.
It is prying to note that while we have difficulty envisioning a sustainable world, we have no difficulty identifying what is unsustainable in our societies. We can rapidly create a laundry list of problems – inefficient use of energy, lack of water conservation, increased pollution, abuses of human rights, overuse of personal transportation, consumerism, etc. But we should not chide ourselves because we lack a clear definition of sustainability. Indeed, many truly great concepts of the human world – among them democracy and justice – are hard to define and have multiple expressions in cultures around the world.
In the Toolkit, we use three terms synonymously and interchangeably: education for sustainable development (ESD), education for sustainability (EfS), and sustainability education (SE). We use ESD most often, because it is the terminology used frequently at the international level and within UN documents. Locally or nationally, the ESD effort may be named or described in many ways because of language and cultural differences. As with all work related to sustainable development, the name and the content must be locally relevant and culturally appropriate.
An important distinction is the difference between education about sustainable development and education for sustainable development. The first is an awareness lesson or theoretical discussion. The second is the use of education as a tool to achieve sustainability. In our opinion, more than a theoretical discussion is needed at this critical juncture in time. While some people argue that “for” indicates indoctrination, we think “for” indicates a purpose. All education serves a purpose or society would not invest in it. Driver education, for example, seeks to make our roads safer for travelers. Fire-safety education seeks to prevent fires and tragic loss of lives and property. ESD promises to make the world more livable for this and future generations. Of course, a few will abuse or distort ESD and turn it into indoctrination. This would be antithetical to the nature of ESD, which, in fact, calls for giving people knowledge and skills for lifelong learning to help them find new solutions to their environmental, economic, and social issues.

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