In Teaching Sustainability/Teaching Sustainably, Danielle Lake writes the best sentence I have ever read summarizing sustainability:
"Understanding sustainability as a wicked problem, and recognizing how an egoist ethic otherizes the environment and is thus in large part responsible for the abuses that have led to a number of current environmental and social problems, are central to the resolution of this pressing situation."
Teaching Sustainability/Teaching Sustainably, edited by Kirsten Allen Bartels and Kelly A. Parker, is simply the type of book you sit down and read the whole book enjoying each chapter and then get up. What is especially nice about this book is that it balances the humdrum of academic discipline with practical experience describing how to teach sustainability in a realistic manner to individuals in diverse careers, from museum professionals to engineers to farmers to literature majors.
While much is written about sustainability by scientists and financial specialists (of which I am both) focusing on how to solve the wicked problems associated with global warming and climate change, social equity and inequalities, and biodiversity constraints and collapse, it is obvious that these 21st Century wicked problems will be solved through engaging everyone else who is not a scientist or financial specialist. This is because, as Danielle Lake writes, the egoist ethic often prevents us from arriving at a sustainability-based solution to any number of issues we see written about daily on Mongabay.com.
What does resolving this egoist ethic look like on a daily basis? It means educators, including occasional graduate school educators like myself, need to ask how do we integrate sustainability successfully into our classrooms regardless of the material being taught, from art history to zoology, resulting in developing in promoting sustainably solutions to the three wicked problems of the 21st Century.
Teaching Sustainability/Teaching Sustainably, edited by Kirsten Allen Bartels and Kelly A. Parker, does provide some practical advice regarding how to integrate sustainability into the classroom. With sections on "Sustainability as a Core Value in Education," "Teaching Sustainability in the Academic Disciplines," "Education as a Sustainable Practice," and "Leadership and Reform Strategies for Long-term Institutional Change" the editors and authors provide practical examples of how to shift the education paradigm to integrate sustainability as a core concept within education into every major academic discipline.
In summary, adding sustainability to all facets of education is like adding computer technology to all facets of education—it is a core concept that is as fundamental to learning as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
How to order: Teaching Sustainability/Teaching Sustainably
Paperback: 284 Pages
Publisher: Stylus Publishing, LLC
Editors: Kirsten Allen Bartels and Kelly A. Parker
Gabriel Thoumi, CFA is a frequent contributor to Mongabay.com.