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  • 1. IAU Sao Paulo Conference, July 25-29, 2004 12th General Conference: The Wealth of Diversity Parallel Workshops – Session IINew Challenges and Roles for Higher Education in Education for Sustainable DevelopmentRosalyn McKeown & Charles A. Hopkins, UNESCO Chair, York University, Toronto, Canada.AbstractEducation serves as a powerful tool for moving nations, communities, and households toward a moresustainable future; therefore, the United Nations has declared 2005-2014 to be the UN Decade onEducation for Sustainable Development. This paper describes issues and challenges associated witheducation for sustainable development (ESD) and invites institutions of higher education (IHEs) tothink about new ways to respond so that future graduates can deal with these issues in their careersand lives. Higher education plays a vital role, not only in shaping the future by educating theprofessionals of tomorrow, but by creating a research base for sustainability efforts, and providingoutreach and service to communities and nations.ESD builds the capacity of nations to create, broaden, and implement, sustainability plans. ESDimproves sustainable economic growth by improving the quality and skills of the workforce. ESD alsocreates an informed public that can support enlightened policy and legislation and raises the qualityof life for all members of society. ESD has four major goals: (1) improve access to quality formaleducation, (2) reorient existing education to address sustainable development, (3) develop publicunderstanding and awareness, and (4) implement workplace training programs for all sectors ofprivate and civil society. Emerging challenges such as globalization call for graduates of highereducation to understand and address issues inherent in the quest for a sustainable future. ESD ismore than a Southern issue; the North could use ESD to address more sustainable production andconsumption patterns as well as other issues such as the undereducation of hard-to-serve populationsAs ESD is a newly emerging issue for higher education, the United Nations University proposes tocreate Regional Centers of Excellence (RCEs) for ESD, to develop innovative ways of collaboratingamong IHEs, primary and secondary educational systems, local governments, and other regionalstakeholders. RCEs will assist with the vertical alignment of curriculum from primary throughuniversity and with linking formal and nonformal sectors of the education community. This alignmentand linkage is essential to the success of a holistic ESD program for all citizens in the region.Institutions of higher education are seen as central to the development of an integrated regionalapproach to ESD. To facilitate communication, RCEs will be linked with a Global Center ofExcellence that will house a Global Higher Education for Sustainability Portal, an online resource.This paper expands on the roles higher education could play in national and regional sustainabilitystrategies.IntroductionEducation is one, albeit large, ray of hope for the global sustainability vision. Agenda 21, the world’sfirst action plan for sustainable development, made it clear that many paths to sustainable developmentexist. The document stated that work on multiple fronts (e.g., good legislation and governance,economic incentives, overcoming corruption, environmental protection, human rights and security,and creating infrastructure—from transportation to financial pillars) was necessary. While there wasmuch discussion and negotiation on these various key approaches, one path was adopted unanimously—the need for education, public awareness, and training.Now, twelve years after the Earth Summit and the adoption of Agenda 21, education still remains apowerful tool brimming with possibilities for implementing sustainability; therefore, the United
  • 2. Nations has declared 2005-2014 to be the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development(UNDESD). Each sector of the economy, government, and society must work synergistically toward agoal of sustainability to make brighter tomorrows possible. Higher education can play a vital role inshaping the future by educating the next generation of professionals, creating a research base forsustainability efforts, and providing outreach and service to communities and nations. Institutions ofhigher education (IHEs) need to be reorienting curriculum to address sustainability. Higher educationfaces great challenges, but by addressing sustainability, IHEs could greatly benefit their surroundingcommunities and the world.Governments see education as a powerful means of implementing not only local sustainability goalsbut also the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Thereality of the new millennium is that globalization—and its many ramifications on the environment,the economy and society—is forcing education systems at all levels to address new issues of purpose,content, and pedagogy. Each country asks: What should our students know, be able to do, and valuewhen they graduate? In answering these questions, the linkage between education and sustainabilitybecomes more defined because education helps nations build capacity, widen development options,and create more flexible and effective sustainability plans.Education and sustainability are inextricably linked, but the distinction between education as we knowit and education for sustainability (ESD) is enigmatic for many. ESD carries with it the inherent ideaof implementing sustainability-fostering programs that are locally relevant and culturally appropriate.All sustainable development programs including ESD must consider the local environmental,economic, and societal conditions. As a result, ESD and ESD in higher education will take manyforms around the world.Although ESD will challenge IHEs to move in new directions the core missions of IHEs remain thesame. “The core missions of higher education [are] to educate, to train, to undertake research and toprovide services to the community” (UNESCO, 1998 paragraph 3). The role of universities ineducating for social justice and a culture of peace is well documented in the publications of the WorldConference on Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action (UNESCO, 1998).The current and potential contributions of IHEs to sustainability through research are well documentedalso. The United Nations Education, Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held a series ofregional conferences and convened the World Conference on Science—Science for the Twenty-FirstCentury: A new commitment. Universities serve as sources of research that can support sustainability.In fact, universities often produce the science underlying technological advances in energy efficiency,medicine, and electronics. Such research is vital to create a new generation of products that aremanufactured, used, and disposed of in more sustainable ways. Universities also research the socialand economic spheres of societies, uncovering inequities and trends that run counter to sustainabilityideals. Equally important, universities stimulate creativity and innovation, skills that will play animportant role in a more sustainable world.This paper takes a different approach to the discussion of the role of higher education andsustainability. The authors posit that large issues associated with education and sustainabledevelopment are rooted in the communities and nations that surround IHEs. Because IHEs educateand train future professionals and leaders in many sectors of society, graduates of our institutions willhave to grapple with environmental, social, and economic issues inherent in the quest for a sustainablefuture. What are IHEs doing to prepare these future professionals to work with, provide services for,and write policy that will promote equity for the poor and excluded members of society? What areIHEs doing to promote a just and equitable life for all, both now and for generations to come? Whatare IHEs doing to protect preserve and restore the environment so that people of all economicconditions can lead healthy lives?The issues and challenges described in this paper are often not part of university education; however,they are highly relevant to the students’ future careers as many will become leaders and decision-makers in their lifetimes. These complex issues demand interdisciplinary solutions. They call for newways of thinking about the role of a university education in providing experiences for students that
  • 3. will be relevant to their professional and private lives. The proceeding of the World Conference onHigher Education in the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action stated, “higher education systemsshould enhance their capacity to live with uncertainty, to change and bring about change, and toaddress social needs and to promote solidarity and equity;” (UNESCO, 1998, paragraph 14).This document explicitly describes some major issues and challenges related to sustainability andeducation. As you read each challenge ask yourself: Does this major issue face my community ornation either now or in the foreseeable future? Does my institution have the expertise to address oneor more aspects of this issue? Is this something my institution could address by reorienting thecurriculum? Is this something my institution could address with research? Is this something myinstitution could address through service? Could my institution partner with another institution orstakeholder to ameliorate the problem or provide part of the solution?Agenda 21 called for communities to create Local Agenda 21 plans. Some IHEs are creatingsustainability plans to allocate their already over-extended resources to arenas where they will havethe greatest impact. Using this model each IHE could create an institutional Agenda 21 plan that setsdirections and priorities for the campus, insuring that each institution creates a relevant andappropriate plan that maximizes its institutional expertise and addresses its unique environmental,social, and economic context. By examining programs, practices, and policies, institutions can findsways to reshape their many facets—for example, curriculum, teaching, research, service, businesspractices, and physical plant construction and maintenance. IHEs can do more than the traditionalroles of education, research, and service; they can be models of sustainable institutions with fairness intheir social policies (e.g., gender and racial equity in hiring), economic interactions (e.g., purchasingsafe substitutes for toxic chemicals and recycled paper), and environmental practices (e.g., reducingCO2 emissions and improving water quality management).2. The Northern need for ESDAs ESD is implemented in locally relevant and culturally appropriate manners, ESD will take variousforms. Some cultures see ESD as combating unsustainable consumption patterns while others see it asaddressing issues of illiteracy and rapid population growth, which keeps large segments of thepopulation in poverty. Often, we perceive the issues of “others” and not those of our own societies.As a result, too many IHEs in the North are not reorienting curriculum to address sustainability orinvolving their campuses in other sustainability-related reforms. These institutions see ESD as aSouthern issue. These Northern institutions are ignoring a powerful tool—ESD— that could addressother national issues and lead institutions, nations, and communities to a more sustainable future. Forexample, the rapid consumption of Earth’s resources and energy is a well known issue of the North —one-fifth of the world’s population consumes two-thirds of the world’s energy and raw materials. Thisinequity can be addressed through ESD. Northern citizens should become knowledgeable consumers.They should become aware that through both their daily and major purchases they can supportsustainable products and boycott unsustainable merchandise. They must see beyond the "greenwash"—public-relations efforts that highlight the more environmentally responsible corporateactivities and ignore or hide the major activities that are not. In much of todays world, people aresurrounded by such media as television, radio, newspapers, and magazines as well as advertisementson billboards, banners on World Wide Web sites, and logos on clothing. To combat all the hype,people must become media literate and able to analyze the messages of corporate advertisers. ESDtargets this societal need. With the world’s advertising and promotion budget set at approximatelyone-half trillion US dollars, the need for media literacy is immense.A much lesser known problem of the North is the under education of both youth and adults. Toomany students drop out as soon as they become legally of age (i.e., 16 or 18 years of age). Othersmentally drop out, attending classes but not mentally engaging in their education. For many of theseyouth, education seems purposeless and irrelevant to the jobs and lives they desire to lead. Anappropriately reoriented education will give these undereducated students the knowledge, skills,values, and perspectives they need to enter the workforce, to have sustainable livelihoods, and lead
  • 4. sustainable lives.In the North, societal expectation has evolved that public schools must educate all children. Ageneration ago, about 20 percent of the students left formal education before graduating from highschool. They entered the economy often taking jobs that did not require in-depth reading, writing, ormathematical skills. However, now there are fewer jobs for people with less than a high schooldiploma so this twenty percent stays in school. Compared to the majority of students, this hard-to-serve group does not reap the benefits of traditional classrooms. Many of these students havepreferred learning styles other than reading, which makes learning from textbooks difficult. Whilevocational programs give many youth marketable skills, few schools, especially small schools, canoffer a variety of vocational programs. Also, in northern countries, social issues such as poverty, druguse, alcohol misuse, physical and mental abuse, and divorce encroach on the schools. Teachers takeon social work tasks in addition to teaching. Students often are distracted by family problems andcannot concentrate during classes or do homework in after school hours. Education for sustainabledevelopment with appropriate pedagogy, curriculum, and teacher training offers much hope for theNorth.Much of the remainder of this paper deals with issues important to the South. The reason the authorsaddressed Northern issues first is that we know from experience that many administrators from theNorth do not see ESD as relevant. We wanted to convey to these administrators what a powerful tooleducation could be to address societal issues of every nation and what a crucial role IHEs can play inESD.3. Undereducated people in every countryUndereducated citizens populate every country. Some 800 million adults in the world cannot read and100 million children ages six through 11 have never attended school—ninety percent of whom live indeveloping nations. International programs, such as Education for All, the Millennium DevelopmentGoals, and the Decade for Literacy, address these large issues. However, under-education strikes evendeeper and is not relegated to developing countries. For example, about a third of Montreal’s teenageboys drop out of high school before graduating. They dream of lives as musicians, athletes, and diskjockeys. Most end up unemployed, in criminal activity, or in minimum wage jobs. They do not havethe skills to change their livelihoods as the economy changes. In a perfect world, the educationalcommunity could predict workforce trends and changes and respond to them; however, more often weplay catch up in hindsight. Unfortunately, millions of people are under-educated in countries aroundthe world in both the North and the South. Myriads of local solutions exist. ESD with appropriatepedagogy, curriculum, and teacher training has much to offer. Every educational system faces the problem of undereducation. How can my institution helpretain students in the educational system? How can my institution create alternative visions for youththat make college life and the careers it leads to attractive?4. Education builds capacity in civil societyEducation directly affects the capacity of a society to create, support, and implement sustainabilityplans in the following three areas:Workforce. A national sustainability plan can be enhanced or limited by the level of educationattained by the nations citizens. Nations with high illiteracy rates and unskilled workforces have fewerdevelopment options. For the most part, these nations are forced to buy energy and manufacturedgoods on the international market with hard currency. To acquire hard currency, these countries needinternational trade; usually this leads to exploitation of natural resources or conversion of lands fromself-sufficient family-based farming to cash-crop agriculture. An educated workforce is key tomoving beyond an extractive and agricultural economy. A higher education level is also necessary tocreate jobs and industries that are "greener" (i.e., those having fewer environmental impacts) and moresustainable.
  • 5. Workforce supply and demands are often mismatched. In countries, like Botswana, although theunemployment rate is high—over 20%—industries import technically skilled labor because the currentworkforce lacks workers with specific skills. This story repeats around the world when the workplacedemands do not match the skills of the workforce. Unfortunately, this sad situation also hurts nationaleconomies. Many immigrant laborers send a portion of their wages home to their families inneighboring countries, thus taking money out of the local and national economies.The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) advises, “The level of education matters, andthe skills of employees need to be continually upgraded through on-the-job training to increase thefirm’s productivity and its ability to absorb new technology” (UNDP, 2004, p 19). Life-long learningopportunities, which allow workers to develop new skills and have life-long employment, is part of theESD vision.For private-sector growth to flourish, several factors must be in place, including: rule of law, physicaland social infrastructure, a sound local and global macro-environment (i.e., peace, political stability,transparency, and accountability), access to financing, and a level playing field. Access to skills andknowledge is also included in this list.Sidebar—Brain Drain"Technological innovations and the shift towards knowledge-based economies make human capitalinvestment a prerequisite for sustained economic growth and central to the start-up, growth andproductivity of firms. Many developing countries suffer from low levels of human capital investment,aggravated by the outward migration of highly skilled professionals. The cumulative "brain drain"since 1990 has been estimated at 15% for Central America, 6% for Africa, 5% for Asia and 3% forSouth America. The International Organization for Migration estimates that some 300,000professionals from the African continent live and work in Europe and North America." (UNDP, 2004,p 19).The outward migration of educated and skilled professionals illustrates that education alone will notsolve economic problems or sustainability problems. All sectors must work together in concert toachieve sustainability goals.Community-based decision making. Good community-based decisions—which affect social,economic, and environmental well-being—also depend on educated citizens. Development options,especially "greener" development options, expand as education increases. For example, a communitywith an abundance of skilled labor and technically trained people can persuade a “cleaner” corporationwith higher paying jobs to locate a new development nearby. Citizens can also act to protect theircommunities by analyzing reports and data that address community issues thereby preparingthemselves to shape a community response.Social tolerance. Modern sustainable societies are based on human rights and characterized by socialequity and tolerance of people whose ethnicity, language, culture, religion, race or traditions aredifferent than one’s own. Unfortunately, throughout history such differences led to suspicion andseparation, which often led to hatred and violence. In a culture of peace, using violence in times ofdomestic, civil, national, or international conflict is untenable. War is the antithesis of sustainability.Education has a huge role in developing tolerant and peaceful societies in which democraticcitizenship, values, and solidarity are important outcomes.Ministers of Education at a meeting in Paris emphasized the importance of “Equipping all childrenwith universally shared ethical and moral values in order to enable them to learn and practice thesevalues of empathy, compassion, honesty, integrity, non-violence, respect for diversities thus learningto live together in peace and harmony” (Ministerial Round Table on Quality Education, 2003, p 3).Quality of life. Education is also central to improving quality of life. Education raises the economic
  • 6. status of families; improves life conditions, lowers infant mortality, and improves the educationalattainment of the next generation, thereby raising the next generations chances for economic andsocial well-being. Improved access to and quality of education holds both individual and nationalimplications.These issues challenge IHEs to work in new realms and to be of service to society. How can myinstitution help raise the capacity of civil society? What can we do in higher education to develop askilled workforce? Do our undergraduate and graduate students enter the university with citizenshipand community membership skills? If not, how could my institution foster development of citizenshipskills after the students arrive on campus? Does anyone hold conversations with students aboutlifestyle choices? Does my institution contribute to students and graduates leading more sustainablelifestyles?What Is education for sustainable development?This paper has described the need for and the potential of ESD. Now we turn to defining goals for it.ESD was first described by Chapter 36 of Agenda 21. This chapter identified four major thrusts tobegin the work of ESD: (1) improve access to quality basic education, (2) reorient existing educationto address sustainable development, (3) develop public understanding and awareness, and (4) providetraining programs for all sectors of the economy.Quality Basic EducationThe first priority of ESD is improving access to quality basic education. Basic education is essentialfor improving the workforce and public participation in civil society, and it is central to a moresustainable future. The meaning of a quality education is being redefined in societies undergoingprofound social and economic change.Old notions of quality are no longer enough. . . . there are many common elements in the pursuit of aquality education, which should equip all people, women and men, to be fully participating membersof their own communities and also citizens of the world (Ministerial Round Table on QualityEducation, 2003, p 1).The content and years of basic education differ greatly around the world. In some countries, forinstance, primary school is considered basic education. In others eight or 12 years is mandatory. Inmany countries, basic education focuses on reading, writing, and ciphering. Pupils learn to read thenewspaper, write letters, figure accounts, and develop skills necessary to fulfill household andcommunity obligations. Girls, for example, may learn about nutrition and nursing. Pupils also learnhow their governments function and about the world beyond their communities.In many countries, the current level of basic education is too low and the quality so lacking that itseverely hinders national plans for a sustainable future. In Latin America and the Caribbean, manycountries have six to eight years of compulsory education with approximately five to 15 percent ofstudents repeating one or more years. In parts of Asia, especially Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India,many children attend school for an average of five years. A complicating factor in this region is thatmany girls receive fewer years of schooling to create that average. In parts of Africa, where life isdisturbed by drought or war, the average attendance in public education is measured in months, notyears. Unfortunately, the lowest quality of education is often found in the poorest regions orcommunities. The impact of little and/or poor-quality education severely limits the options availableto nations trying to develop short- and long-term sustainability plans.Simply increasing basic literacy, as it is currently taught in most countries, will not producesustainable societies. Indeed, if communities and nations hope to identify and work towardsustainability goals, they must focus on skills, values, and perspectives that encourage and supportpublic participation and community decision making. Basic education must be reoriented to addresssustainability and expanded to include critical-thinking skills, skills to organize and interpret data andinformation, skills to formulate questions, and the ability to analyze issues that confront communities.
  • 7. So what is the connection between basic education and IHEs? One connection is that in manycountries teachers are trained through higher education. Other connections might be that facultymembers sit on national primary curriculum writing committees, or publishers turn to universities forassistance writing textbooks. All of these examples are excellent leverage points for turning universityexpertise into promoting ESD. Are IHEs addressing the need for teachers, administrators, and policymakers, all of whom graduate from IHEs, to seek out and educate the vast number of excluded andundereducated children in our societies?As stated previously, more education is not the solution to an unsustainable world; simply educatingthe illiterate and undereducated will not lead the world toward sustainability. Unfortunately, the mosteducated nations leave the deepest ecological footprints. Education must be relevant to life in asustainable world. Does the curriculum educate children and youth to lead sustainable lives andweave sustainability into their occupations?Reorienting EducationThe term "reorienting education" has become a powerful descriptor that helps administrators andeducators at every level (i.e., nursery school through university) to understand the changes required forESD. ESD encompasses a vision that integrates environment, economy, and society. Reorientingeducation requires teaching and learning knowledge, principles, skills, perspectives, and values thatwill guide and motivate people to pursue sustainable livelihoods, to participate in a democratic society,and to live in a sustainable manner.The need to reorient basic and secondary education to address sustainability has garnered internationalattention. The need in higher education is just as great; however, it has not received as much attention.IHEs are educating societys future leaders and decision makers. If these young people are expected tolead all sectors of society (e.g., government, health care, agriculture, forestry, law, business, industry,engineering, education, communications, architecture, and the arts) in a world striving towardsustainability, then current administration and faculty members must reorient university curriculums toinclude the many complex facets of sustainability.In reorienting education to address sustainability, curriculum developers should balance lookingforward to a more sustainable society with looking back to traditional ecological knowledge.Indigenous traditions often carry with them the values and practices that embody sustainable resourceuse. While returning to indigenous lifestyles is not an option for the millions of urban dwellers, thevalues and major tenets of indigenous traditions can be adapted to life in the 21st century. To date, fewIHEs have a good track record in educating indigenous peoples or showing respect for traditionalknowledge and wisdom. Ask yourself, is this an issue for my institution?Reorienting education to address sustainability is something that should occur throughout the formaleducation systemincluding colleges, universities, professional schools (e.g., law and medicine), andtechnical schools as well as primary and secondary education. Hans van Ginkel, Rector of UnitedNations University (UNU), says, “Education for sustainable development . . . is not a topic that can betaught in a few weeks just at a certain age, but should rather be given attention in all sectors and at alllevels in relation to relevant, already existing subjects in an integrated manner.”In fact, higher education is accused of indirectly limiting ESD. Too often, the reason secondaryschools give for not reorienting their curriculum is that they need to prepare students for entrance touniversity. This sad fact gives IHEs an opportunity to show leadership in coordinating thisreorientation process. The World Conference on Higher Education “insisted on the reordering of[higher education’s] links with all levels of education, in particular with secondary education as apriority.” (UNESCO. 1998, Paragraph 5). IHEs are supposed to take the initiative to align educationfrom pre-school through university. This mandate gives IHEs the opportunity to assist withreorienting education in primary and secondary schools as well as align it.One of the great challenges that lay ahead for those who reorient education to address sustainability isto emphasize attitudes and values that support sustainability. Professionals who work in many fields—environmental resource management, secondary education, public health policy—all mention that ifthe public “had a different attitude” they would act in more responsible ways. One person describedhow people left their water taps open, wasting this valuable resource; he was amazed that poor people
  • 8. who had so little could squander a readily available resource. His observation brings us to the issue ofa reoriented curriculum placing more emphasis on the behavior component of education. At one time,educators thought awareness and knowledge alone would lead to appropriate behavior, but research inenvironmental education shows this not to be so. Students need a chance to develop skills andattitudes and to have the opportunity to participate in meaningful ways that lead to the well-being oftheir environment and community.Although many administrators and faculty agree that reorienting curriculum should occur, the mainquestion is how to reorient education? The Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit offersseveral activities for analyzing the sustainability components in a curriculum and for weavingadditional knowledge, issues, skills, values and perspectives related to sustainability into existingcurriculum (McKeown, et al. 2002). As an early step, every course syllabus should be examined todetermine if knowledge, issues, skills, perspectives, and values related to sustainability are woven intothe course. Because each discipline can contribute to sustainability, each course should be examined,not only those that are traditionally associated with sustainability (e.g., ecology). As part of syllabusreview, a curriculum coordinator needs to look at the coursework as a whole to determine if thecourses in each major or career present a broad and cohesive vision of sustainability or one that ischaracterized by gaps or redundancies.As yourself: Does my institution address reorienting education throughout the institution? Whatshould be added to my institution’s curriculum? What should be removed from the curriculumbecause it does not contribute sufficiently to a more sustainable society?Public AwarenessSustainability requires a population that is aware of the goals of a sustainable society and has theknowledge and skills to contribute to those goals. The need for an informed voting citizenry becomesever more important with the increase in the number of democratic governments. Informed votingcitizens, who lend support to enlightened policies and government initiatives, can help governmentsenact sustainable measures.Years of resource management have shown that a public that is aware of and informed about resource-management decisions and initiatives can help achieve program goals. In contrast, an uninformedpublic can undermine resource-management programs. Education has also been essential in manyother types of programs, such as public-health efforts to stop the spread of specific diseases. Effectivepublic awareness programs when combined with realistic options for alternative action also changebehaviors and lifestyle choices.Within the context of each institution of higher education, many opportunities can arise for improvingpublic awareness. For example, many citizens look to IHEs as sources of less biased information thanthat which arrives from governments and corporations. As a result, IHEs have opportunities to impactpublic information campaigns. IHEs can work with media (i.e., newspapers, radio, television, andmagazines) to raise public awareness of sustainability issues and sustainable lifestyles. Public servicecampaigns, which are provided on a pro bono basis often create good will for the providers.To assist with this goal of ESD ask: Does my institution currently assist with any public informationor awareness campaigns? What could my institution contribute? What technical areas like facultiesof communications or journalism could be involved? What areas of expertise does my campus havethat are relevant to major sustainability issues facing my community?TrainingAgenda 21 also stressed training. A literate and environmentally aware citizenry and work force willhelp and guide nations as they implement sustainability plans. All sectors—including business,industry, higher education, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and community
  • 9. organizations—should be encouraged to train their leaders in environmental management, equitypolicies etc. and to provide training to their workers in sustainable practices.Training is distinct from education in that training is often specific to a particular job or class of jobs.Training informs workers how to use equipment safely, be more efficient, and comply withenvironmental, health, and safety regulations. For instance, a training program might teach workers toavoid changing the waste stream without notifying their supervisor. Further, if an employee isinvolved in a nonroutine activity, such as cleaning a new piece of equipment, she or he is instructednot to dispose of the cleaning solvent by pouring it down a storm sewer drain that leads to the river.Training informs people of accepted practices and procedures and gives them skills to perform specifictasks. In contrast, education is a socially transforming process that gives people knowledge, skills,perspectives, and values through which they can participate in and contribute to their own well-beingand that of their communities and nations.How can IHEs contribute to training? What degree program or specialization has expertise intraining? Adult education is a specialization within some faculties of education and pedagogy. Arethere other pockets of expertise in my institution in communications, business, agriculture, or forestrythat disseminate information to the public? What expertise could these faculties lend to businesses,industries, corporations, and government agencies for training workers and citizens? Whatinstitution in my country specializes in adult education or educates the trainers? Could we offer acertificate or noncredit workshops, rather than a degree, to help with this challenge?6. Adult educationThe World Conference on Education for All set the goal of reducing adult illiteracy to half the 1990level by 2000. Great strides have been made toward this goal in many countries. For example, inSyria, females ability to read and write rose strikingly from 60 to 73 percent over five years in the late1990s. However, in many areas of the world, adult literacy has not increased. Overall, the literacyproblem remains one of the major challenges of this century, especially for women, who compose60% of the illiterate population.For the 800 million illiterate adults in the world, adult education is the one great hope for a better life.For example, literacy and numeracy allow farmers to adapt to new agricultural methods, cope withrisk, and respond to market signals. Literacy also helps farmers mix and apply chemicals (e.g.,fertilizers and pesticides) according to manufacturers directions, thereby reducing risks to theenvironment and human health. A basic education also helps farmers gain title to their land and applyfor credit at banks and other lending institutions. For these farmers, education allows a more securefoothold in the economy, greater family security, and more efficacy as members of society. Educationenhances the quality of life while improving economic conditions.Beyond individuals, illiteracy hurts nations. Illiterate youth and adults have limited employmentoptions. Low wages and idle time lead to discontent and civil and political unrest, threatening socialcohesion. One of the great challenges of governments of rapidly growing populations is to providejobs for youth as they come of age. Providing jobs for thousands of illiterates is difficult at best.Governments compete to bring in industries that will employ the populace. Attracting industry withhighly paid jobs (e.g., software, electronics assembly, and aircraft industries) requires a highlyeducated workforce, not illiterate and unskilled workers. The magnitude of the illiteracy problem ledthe United Nations to declare 2003 to 2012 to be the UN Decade of Literacy,For IHEs with high entrance requirements, illiteracy appears to be a distant challenge that should nottake resources allocated to campus needs; however, ask yourself, how many of my institution’sgraduates will have careers that deal directly with illiterate adults and how many of the graduates’careers will be made more difficult by the social needs of the numerous illiterate population?
  • 10. There are obvious links between faculties of education and pedagogy in the realm of literacy. Howcan research in literacy for children assist with the adult issue? How can adult curriculum be revisedso it is relevant to the daily lives of adults and motivates them to learn even when it is difficult? Adultliteracy is a difficult issue; however, in places where literacy has improved, especially for women, thequality of life in the family and community has improved greatly. By working in these realms, IHEscontribute greatly to social equity and a culture of peace.Gender and education with implications for sustainabilityOne educational effort that can boost the economic potential of entire nations is educating females.During the past decade, some national leaders have recognized that educating the entire workforce,both males and females, is important for economic viability. Accordingly, some nations are removingbarriers to girls attending school and have campaigns to actively enroll girls in school.In the past, educating the boy child was a priority for many societies; however, todays leaders realizethat educating girls strengthens our families, communities, societies, economies, and governments.The roots of male-female disparity in education are complex, and the causes vary from society tosociety. Governmental policies, cultural traditions, familial expectations, and immediate economicpressures thwart the education of girls and women at every level of education. Fortunately, genderinequity in education is amenable to change through public policy. Changes in governmental policycan dramatically increase educational opportunities for females of all ages.Investment in education, especially for females, yields positive short- and long-term benefits foreconomies and societies. The connection between increased education of females and decliningpopulation growth has been well-documented. Lawrence Summer of the World Bank says, "Once allthe benefits are recognized, investments in the education of girls may well be the highest-returninvestment available in the developing world" (King and Hill, 1993, p vii).Education benefits a woman in life-altering ways. An educated woman gains higher status and anenhanced sense of efficacy. She tends to marry later and have greater bargaining power and success inthe "marriage market." She also has greater bargaining power in the household after marriage. Aneducated woman tends to desire a smaller family size and seeks the health care necessary to do so.Therefore, she has fewer and healthier children. An educated woman has high educational and careerexpectations of her children, both boys and girls.Population Growth and EducationRapidly increasing population concerns many national governments because it reinforces social andeconomic disparities, which in turn pressure social cohesion. Much of the worlds population increaseoccurs in less-developed countries that are least prepared to meet peoples needs. The challengesassociated with increasing population include, but are not limited to, caring for the poorest socialgroups, constructing and staffing more schools, providing health care for growing numbers of people,providing potable water, coping with sewage and waste disposal, and growing sufficient amounts offood. Education is one of the most effective as well as acceptable means of intervention available todecision-makers with regard to the population problem, which is perceived as a major threat tosustainability.One of the roots of sustainability is social equity. In many parts of the world, this means elevating thestatus of women and supporting their full participation in society. Access to quality education at alllevels is one of the foundational steps of this process.Educating women also makes economic sense. As nations enter into global competition, it isimprudent to eliminate half of the nations economic potential and workforce by not educatingfemales. It is a strategic economic measure to educate the entire potential workforce and thereby bepoised to use the human resource potential of both men and women.IHEs can play an important role in accepting and retaining females in all faculties and majors. Oftenfemales are admitted to traditional careers (e.g., nursing and teaching), but are not considered serious
  • 11. candidates for technical fields and physical science fields (e.g., engineering and chemistry). Askyourself, what are my institution’s enrollment policies? Do we support females entering and studyingtraditionally male fields throughout their courses of study? Does social science research on campusdeal with equity issues for female children and women? Are the results of this research disseminatedand put into practice?ESD partnership success storiesSome IHEs are already taking action on many levels regarding ESD. One such action is throughconcerted association initiatives. The International Association of Universities (IAU), CopernicusCampus, and University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, together with UNESCO, have formed theGlobal Higher Education Partnership (GHESP) which was launched as an official type 2 partnership atthe World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.In addition, at the WSSD, eleven of the world’s foremost educational and scientific organizationssigned an agreement (the Ubuntu Declaration) in which the members pledged to promote sustainabledevelopment through education at all levels – from primary to tertiary. Signatories also committedtheir organizations to strengthening the use of science and technology for sustainable development ineducation.1 The Ubuntu Declaration strives to ensure that educators and learners from primary to thehighest levels of education and training will become aware of the imperatives of sustainabledevelopment (United Nations University, 2004).Individual IHEs are also working collectively in a concerted fashion such as the Baltic UniversityProgramme, which links 170 IHEs from all 14 Baltic Sea Countries in research and education forregional sustainable development. Coordinated by Uppsala University, courses are produced with theexpertise of IHEs throughout the Baltic Region. At the managerial level, the rectors of these IHEsmeet yearly (Ministry of Science and Education of Sweden. 2002, p 15). Within Europe, IHEs havejoined together forming Copernicus. In the USA, University Leaders for a Sustainable Future is anetwork of more than 100 US IHEs working together to further ESD at the tertiary level. IAU,Copernicus, and USLF are working internationally as well to develop a major online Web site forIHEs to use in developing their own ESD strategies.Individual IHEs are making great efforts as well to address ESD. Many are modeling sustainablepractices and redesigning their campus policies. They are constructing far more energy efficientbuildings and retrofitting existing buildings. Likewise, they are reorienting their coursework andresearch to address sustainability. For example, in the European transition economies, the privatesector is placing new demands on IHEs.[C]ertain sector companies, which produce the so-called ‘large systems,’ such as aircrafts, have tocoordinate their efforts with thousands of subcontractors. All of this calls for new technical skills andmanagerial schemes. In particular, modern firms require substantial in-house capacity to recognize,evaluate, negotiate, and finally adapt technologies available from different sources (United NationsEconomic Commission for Europe, 2003, p 27 - 28). 1 Signatories to the Ubuntu Declaration are: · United Nations University · United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization · International Association of Universities · Third World Academy of Sciences · African Academy of Science · Science Council of Asia · International Council for Science · World Federation of Engineering Organizations · Copernicus-Campus · Global Higher Education for Sustainability Partnership · University Leaders for a Sustainable Future
  • 12. The challenge to universities to reorient their management and business administration courses is vitalto regional sustainable development outcomes. The International Association of Universities, theUNU, and UNESCO have been working as lead agencies on ESD for several years with networks ofIHE such as Copernicus in Europe, and they accomplished much prior to the UNDESD. 9. Next steps: Regional Centers of ExcellenceThe UNDESD and other global initiatives on education such as Education for All, and the UNDecades of Literacy and Water are bringing an unprecedented interest, activity, and growth to theroles of education, public awareness, and training in sustainable development. This activity willbroaden ESD to take new forms in communities around the globe and engage more people in theendeavor. Bold experiments and accompanying successes and failures will occur. All of this activitycalls for communication, collaboration, and synergy. A role for IHEs exists to act as clearinghousesand disseminators of best practices.The UNU proposes to create a network of Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) on ESD based atIHEs. Each RCE would create an enabling environment for collaboration among various partnersengaged in ESD at the local, municipal, or metropolitan regional level. The RCEs will work withmany stakeholders in the community to assure that ESD efforts will help achieve communitysustainability goals. RCEs will strive to assure that ESD efforts reflect the local environmental, social,and economic conditions, thus making ESD relevant to all citizens of the community. In thissymbiotic relationship, curriculum would benefit from being based in locally relevant sustainabilityissues, and the community would benefit from an informed and concerned citizenry.RCEs and partners will develop innovative collaboration among communities, educational institutions,nonprofit organizations, businesses, media, municipal officials, and other stakeholders of the region.The RCE will coordinate efforts of the formal, nonformal, and informal sectors of the education,public awareness, and training communities, linking primary, secondary, technical, and highereducation with other educational endeavors (e.g., nature centers, museums, public health education,adult literacy programs, and corporate training) and with the mass media. This linkage will helpdivide and share the responsibility of education for all members of the community regardless of age,gender, ethnicity, or means. RCEs will also work with the formal education system to align thecurriculum from kindergarten through university (K –U). They will also collaborate to assure the K –U curriculums are reoriented to address sustainability.Activities of the RCEs will include: engaging and mobilizing people to work in ESD; involving fromthe beginning many stakeholders to contribute ideas to ESD initiatives; assuring that new ESDprograms use best practices and a research base, especially integrating natural science and socialscience research results into ESD programs; aligning the primary, secondary and higher educationcurriculum; assisting educational organizations as they create curriculum for emerging issues andneeds; and linking the activities of the formal, nonformal, and informal sectors of the educationcommunity. RCEs will promote sharing and international cooperation in ESD. RCEs will encouragethe development of locally relevant sustainability goals and materials, addressing global concernsthrough locally based scenarios.Together, RCEs from around the world will constitute a Global Learning Space for SustainableDevelopment (GLSSD). RCEs will share their strategies, techniques, project descriptions, and otherefforts amongst themselves and with organizations involved in ESD. RCEs will also promoteinternational cooperation in ESD. This sharing and cooperation will be made possible and efficientthrough the use of integrated computer technologies. To reflect regional variations in ESD, the UNUwill select RCEs to be part of the GLSSD in a way that maximizes cultural and geographic diversity.Global Learning Space for Sustainable DevelopmentThe GLSSD will be home to the international network of RCEs. The GLSSD will also house a varietyof tools to help RCEs accomplish their goals. One such tool will be the Global Higher EducationSustainability Project Portal. The Portal is an online resource that will assist RCEs and IHEs withattaining their sustainability goals. The online resource contains a variety of topics related to
  • 13. reorienting curriculum, pedagogy, green maintenance of campuses, etc. The GLSSD will also offerteams of expert consultants to visit ministries of education, IHEs, and local governments to promoteESD and help organize stakeholder and public participation sessions related to ESD. The GLSSD willprovide other services on request.Concluding remarksEducation, public awareness, and training give the promise of a brighter, more prosperous world, inwhich people of all ages can contribute to the sustainability of their societies. A more sustainableworld depends on civic participation and a more skilled workforce, for which education is essential. Itis with this realization that many governments and members of the educational community areworking to change educational policy and practices to provide educational opportunities for allcitizens. IHEs could step forward to play a crucial role in coordinating ESD efforts. IHEs could linkthe formal, nonformal, and informal sectors of the education community and assist with reorientingeducation to address sustainability at all levels. IHEs could also become models of sustainabilitythrough their social, economic, and environmental practices and policies.There is a tremendous need for sustainable development throughout the world, and education is a vitalcomponent of a more sustainable future. Education alone cannot provide a sustainable future—thatwill be accomplished with many sectors of society working together. However, without education,public awareness, and training many doubt sustainability will be possible. IHEs have much tocontribute through their traditional roles of research, teaching, and service. The times, however,require that IHEs look at new ways of implementing these traditional roles. IHEs need to accept thechallenge and widen their activities in service to the community to address societys needs andaspirations.ReferencesBernard, AK (2000). Education for All 2000 Assessment, Thematic Studies: Education for All andChildren who are Excluded. World Education Forum. Dakar, Senegal. April 2000.International Literacy Institute. (2000). Education for All 2000 Assessment, Thematic Studies:Literacy and Adult Education. World Education Forum. Dakar, Senegal. April 2000.King, Elizabeth M and M. Anne Hill. (1993). Womens Education in Developing Countries: Barriers,Benefits, and Policies. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, for the World Bank.McKeown, Rosalyn, Charles A. Hopkins, Reginna Rizzi, and Marianne Chrystalbridge. 2002.Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit, version #2. http://www.esdtoolkit.org. Knoxville:University of Tennessee, Waste Management Research and Education Institute.McKeown, Rosalyn. 2004. "Education Policy and Gender Issues: A Sustainability Perspective."Encyclopedia of Earth Life Support Systems. Paris: UNESCO.Ministerial Round Table on Quality Education. 2003. Communiqué. Paris: UNESCO.Ministry of Science and Education of Sweden. 2002. An Agenda 21 for Education in the Baltic SeaRegion – Baltic 21E. Baltic 21 Series No. 2/02.)UNDP. 2004. Unleashing Entrepreneurship: Making business work for the poor. Accessed 6 July2004. www.undp.org/cpsd/fullreport.pdf .UNESCO. 1998. The World Conference on Higher Education in the Twenty-first Centry: Vision andAction. http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=19294&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html accessed 7 July 2004.
  • 14. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.2003. Industrial Restructuring in EuropeanTransition Economies: Regulatory Framework and the Role of Innovation. P27-28, United NationsPublications ECE/Trade/335 ISBN 92-1-116867-8United Nations University. UNU Update: Ubuntu Group holds first working session. accessed 6July2004. http://update.unu.edu/archive/issue25_12.htm.