A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

The student who can begin early in life to think of things as connected, even if he revises his view with every succeeding year, has begun the life of learning.

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Educational Strategies

In order to find solutions to complex, multifaceted problems related to our society living sustainably, today's students must be exposed to techniques of teaching that directly involve them in diverse, interdisciplinary collaboration, the creative process, advanced technology, cross-cultural communication, economic development, and environmental ethics and values, to name a few. Complex economic/environmental problems and the understanding of specific nature-society issues demand the combined teaching talents from various disciplines, capable of effectively crossing disciplinary boundaries. Students must be trained to not only reason in terms of traditional disciplines, but must also be provided the ability to use this training in creative thinking and problem-solving that in most instances tends to merge understanding from a number of different perspectives.

This integrative approach will also produce a new generation of scientists that are both sensitive to the intrinsic value and inherent worth of the natural environment and responsive to the fact that science and technology should be used for nature's sake and not simply as a means to exploit nature for society's continued use.

The goal is to teach the real need for continued examination of linkages among economic, social, technological, and environmental issues in achieving a sustainable, global society through the use of science. Students of environmental science should also realize that issues involve moral choices and that information from several disciplines enables them to make more informed decisions. As more of society becomes focused on sustainability and its philosophical foundation, new dimensions are called for in education and community learning/awareness.

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Last Update: 1/1/15
Web Author: Dr. R. Warren Flint