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Sustainable Education 4

March 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Category: Remodeling Contractor

Two of the main issues in the international dialog on sustainability are population and resource consumption. Increases in population and resource use are thought to jeopardize a sustainable future, and education is linked both to fertility rate and resource consumption. Educating females reduces fertility rates and therefore population growth. By reducing fertility rates and the threat of overpopulation a country also facilitates progress toward sustainability. The opposite is true for the relationship between education and resource use. Generally, more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consume more resources than poorly educated people, who tend to have lower incomes. In this case, more education increases the threat to sustainability.
Unfortunately, the most educated nations depart the deepest ecological footprints, meaning they have the highest per-capita rates of consumption. This consumption drives resource extraction and manufacturing around the world. The figures from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Statistical Yearbook and World Education Report, for example, show that in the United States more than 80 percent of the population has some post-secondary education, and about 25 percent of the population has a four-year degree from a university. Statistics also show that per-capita energy use and waste generation in the United States are nearly the highest in the world. In the case of the United States, more education has not led to sustainability. Clearly, simply educating citizenry to higher levels is not sufficient for creating sustainable societies. The defy is to raise the education levels without creating an ever-growing demand for resources and consumer goods and the accompanying production of pollutants. Meeting this challenge depends on reorienting curriculums to address the need for more-sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Every nation will need to reexamine curriculum at all levels (i.e., pre-school to professional education). While it is evident that it is difficult to teach environmental literacy, economics literacy, or civics without basic literacy, it is also evident that simply increasing basic literacy, as it is currently taught in most countries, will not support a sustainable society.

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