2001

Sustainable development and education

The concept of Sustainable Development has become very popular through a number of articles in recent years and they all draw our attention to great ecological decay wrought by an inefficient and degenerative economic system. It is necesary to establish a new system that would be suitable to the biosphere and not vice versa, would integrate the economy with the environment and recognise that humankind's socio-economic activities are interactive with the biological resources forming the substrate for them. However, this concept has gradually lost its concern with global sustainabilily with the original aims of equitable distribution of wealth and social justice. It is generally accepted now that the dualistic Cartesian concept of Man versus Nature is at the core of problems of humankind and the international economic system based upon the same conception of production and consumption by unlimited utilisation of biological resources is an unfortunate evidence of this dualism. Biospheric activities are regulated by self-organising processes that derive the required energy from the sun and therefore are not restricted by the entropy law and can sustain these activities indefinitely. However, this law is a great limiting factor for human economic activity and the sooner this is appreciated by economists and development is no longer thought of as synonymous with 'rape of nature' the closer we shall be to achieving Sustaiable Development. Scientific environmental education can greatly advance the objetives of Sustainable Development. Nevertheless, it is very important that the knowledge of problems at the economy-environment interface is imparted through an interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum that would present these bioeconomical problems in a holistic manner that students could identify with the actual wholeness of the biosphere. It is this concept of unity of humankind and biosphere as one integrated and interactive unit that students have to appreciate that is so essencial for achieving sustainability. It is the purpose of this article to clarify the salient features of the concept of Sustainable Development in relation to aforementioned points and some of its most important socio-economic and environmental objetives are considered. It is made clear that these objetives are attainable but only through great changes in our intellectual, attitudinal and behavioural outlook. It will be emphasised that these changes can be fulfilled through an interdisciplinary curriculum combining the discipline of Bioeconomics with scientific environmental education thus delving into the biological roots of economic activity and also attempting to dispose of the dualism so inhibiting for a radical shift in our gnosis and praxis essential for accomplishing Sustainable Development.

 

 

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