A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

A community committed to sustainable development seeks the synergism of ecology and culture, including economy, to promote an enduring, healthy environment that enriches the lives of all its inhabitants.

Check out "Practice of Sustainable Community Development" a new book published by R. Warren Flint of Five E's Unlimited







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Education & Awareness

Global sustainable development action has not progressed as many would have hoped. People frequently recite the word "sustainable" as though saying it often enough will solve our problems. Although legislation, regulations, and other public policies must support sustainability, progress in achieving it really comes down to changes in social behavior at the community, grassroots, and individual level. The shift that must occur is one of bringing awareness and understanding to the people who can make the most difference, the average global citizen, in a context that decodes and de-mystifies the science behind potential solutions.

Through their daily purchases, individuals hold considerable sway over the health and stability of the world’s most fragile ecological systems, according to the World Watch Institute. If alternative choices are presented to the consumer and enough demand is generated, entire markets can shift. Consider the great shifts over recent years in public attitudes about diet, exercise, fitness, preventive health, and wellness; or about pollution, global warming, and atmospheric ozone depletion. Such agendas have begun to sink in.

We can identify the underlying driving forces of consumption and use this knowledge to raise awareness throughout society of the importance for sustainable lifestyles. Instead of “preaching” the environment message, we can use social marketing research to create a more informed consumer that is aware of the choices available and their impacts.

But it is becoming apparent that "interdisciplinary scientific information (like that required to promote sustainable lifestyles) will not serve the public unless the knowledge gained can be communicated effectively to policymakers and stakeholders at all levels of the social and political spectrums" ..... We need "to improve the process of information dissemination, from scientist to citizen and vice versa" (National Science Foundation Workshop "Nature and Society" - June 2000).

We recognize the need for a new kind of professional able to promote effective research and development in the practice of sustainability, as welll as the abilities of community members to be aware of sustainability potential and outcomes. We work with educational institutions and organizations in promoting integrated and holistic educational approaches to the practice of sustainable development, no matter what the area of focus. And part of this new approach to sustainability awareness can be met by enhanced educational strategies. In our quickly advancing technology and information age, it is becoming imperative that education focus upon encouraging learners to "think outside the traditional box" if they are to fit into the technological society of tomorrow, be successful adults, and have the ability to achieve a sustainable future through informed and effective decision-making. For example, one of our recent educational initiatives has involved the design and teaching of a course entitled "Introduction to Sustainability in Business" for the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (Seattle, WA).

A new paradigm needs to evolve for learning that emphasizes a Sustainability-Oriented Education, enhancing the ability of citizens and professionals to think across disciplines and boundaries. We have begun this process by exploring the many different Sustainability Competencies that a practitioner in area of sustainable development should possess in the way of Knowledge, Skills, & Attributes (KSA). Five E's Unlimited has also developed significant expertise in designing and implementing a number of different components related to environmental and sustainability education programs. WE CAN HELP YOU IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS.

  • Incorporate environmental and sustainability literacy subject matter into traditional education programs.
  • Reach across institutional boundaries and teaching disciplines in tailoring environmental education and communication approaches to the specific context of a group's self-defined goals, or the specific circumstances of an environmental issue.
  • Develop new curricula at the high school or university level that integrate the economic, ecologic, and social well-being issues of sustainability.
  • Conduct faculty development programs in environmental and sustainability literacy education.
  • Design life-long learning public awareness programs to assist people in gaining a better understanding for what sustainable lifestyles are all about.
  • Support your use of environmental education and communication strategies, methods, and tools to strengthen community or organization efforts at reaching their environmental objectives.
  • Increase the legitimacy of your environmental policies and programs.

Check out our different sustainability education and awareness projects and discover what we can do for you.

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