We live in the era of Information and Technology. Today, we are surrounded by knowledge and have answers that were once even beyond imagination.
What is the Earth made of? How does the moon taste? What are stars? How do Robots work? We know all this today but at the cost of our natural resources. For centuries, we have been burning through our resources in order to satiate our undying curiosity. Now, just like Robert Frost, we have reached a fork in our path and must choose which road we must take.
Sustainable Education or Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) promotes the development of skills and values required to create a sustainable future.
So, what exactly is a Sustainable Future? Well, it refers to creating a future in which we are no longer threatened. A future that ensures environmental protection and conservation, promotes social equity, and encourages economic sustainability.
[Economic Sustainability promotes using, safeguarding, and sustaining resources (human and material) to create long-term sustainable values by optimal use, recovery, and recycling.]
In many ways, Sustainable Future does seem like a utopian society, and hence, a pipedream. However, sustainable education is something that will help us close this gap.
A Sustainable Future is a necessity to ensure the survival of Earth and its denizens. We are bound to run out of resources. Therefore, it is important to put our future needs ahead of our current needs.
~Here is an article from UNESCO on the importance of Sustainable Education.~
Tips for Teaching Sustainability
All the tips that I’m about to mention are from an excellent research article you can find here. I will be shortening the points in order to try to get them across easily.
1. Student OverLoad
Firstly, teachers should see to it that students don’t get overwhelmed or depressed by the global environmental crises. Emotional overload can make the student feel powerless or even resentful, which can disrupt the learning process.
Instead, teachers should discuss environmental success stories. This may include discussion of environmental policies or movements that have succeeded in mitigating pollution, conserving resources, or promoting ecological resiliency.
2. Quality of Life Issues
Students learning about environmental issues for the first time can easily feel that their entire lifestyle is threatened by resource limits and the environmentalists who champion living simply.
Furthermore, educators can sometimes add to this sense of threat by taking a moralizing prescriptive and unyielding approach to more sustainable lifestyles.
Therefore, a better way to approach the issues is defining happiness and quality of life.
3. Things to Teach
Firstly, teachers must engage the students with group discussions. Doing so will allow cross-communication among them. This can also lead to problem-solving sessions and debates; teachers can also assign group projects for this.
Teachers must also teach students to analyze data for themselves. Rather than just reading about data, they should have the ability to decode data and analyze it for themselves. This will not only give them insight but also empower them.
Spend time investigating the historical origins and conflicting uses of environmental terminology such as “sustainability,” “environmentalism,” “stewardship,” and “nature”.
Some of the topics that are important here are:
* Precautionary Principle
The precautionary principle states that, if an action risks causing harm to the public or the environment, and there is no scientific consensus that it is indeed harmful, the burden of proof that it is NOT harmful falls on those taking the action.
A critical and thorough understanding of issues related to environmental sustainability necessarily involves contributions from a wide variety of disciplines. Therefore, learning about the interdisciplinary nature of sustainable actions is necessary.
Finally, let’s talk about Envision 2030. In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.
Of course, Sustainable Education is necessary for us to achieve these goals, everyone should be educated about them and actively work towards them.
The Sustainable Development Goals are:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
- Partnerships to achieve the Goal
I hope you understand the dire need for Sustainable Education. The good news is that we are close to our goals. The more people who support sustainable Education, the closer we get to saving our planet. So, let us take the pledge to promote Sustainable Education and be sustainable in our daily lives.