Earth was born with some innate knowledge about the creatures that inhabit it. Sadly, the same can’t be said of the latter. We’ve reached a time in our planet’s life when we need to teach ourselves or at least be taught how to protect it. A basic education is no longer enough; we cannot afford to rely on common sense any longer, in matter of sustaining our planet.
David Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, is also a well known environmentalist active in many areas of environmental studies, including environmental education and environmental design. He asserts that all education must be environmental. Students must be taught that the human race is not separate from nature or above it, but an inherent part of it. Environmentalism can no longer be a choice, a luxury or a hobby. If the human race and any other life on earth has to continue to survive, environmental education is a necessity.
Putting together his two favourite things, environmentalism and education, Orr has worked with the community at the Oberlin College to develop the Oberlin Project. This unique initiative is meant to be self-sustaining many years into the future. It is entirely dependent on renewable sources of energy, has a Green Arts District, a huge green belt for local farming and the space and resources to lay the foundation for Orr’s dream project: a new approach to learning that teaches the principles of environmental protection and ecological responsibility in tandem with a regular curriculum. All this through a sustainable economic model, able to be replicated anywhere.
Recognising the dire need for education in the realm of sustainability, the UN declared 2005-2014 as the decate to educate all stakeholders towards achieving human development through economic growth, social development and environmental protection. This education is a wider planned instruction towards creating policies and programmes that will instill “values, behaviour and lifestyle required for a sustainable future and for positive societal transformation.”
The idea is to create communication and modes of instruction for environmental education, of a more holistic kind for the general public, going beyond mere information on environmental protection. It is clear that, if communities can make life altering choices and adopt values that reflect a model pro-sustainability lifestyle, perhaps we can look at a planet worthy of leaving behind for future generations to enjoy.
Earth Beyond: How do we create education that supports a hea