THE West has woken up to the concept of sustainability rather recently, whereas it is part of the way of life in most Asian courtiers. The amount of food, electricity, fuel and other natural resources wasted by the Western courtiers have been discussed in various forums, many times, with little or no impact.
The book Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice across Higher Education seems to be a renewed effort at inculcating the value of sustainability. The volume discusses the measures to be taken to include sustainability as part of the curriculum in higher education.
The increasing concern of the earth scientists at the fast depletion of earth’s resources is the chief propellant for the book. The main question it addresses is: “How can disciplines ‘embed’ sustainability into their theory and practice in a way that is consistent with the huge challenges that sustainability-related issues present-and will continue to present-to graduates?”
Edited by Paula Jones, David Selby and Stephen Sterling, it focuses on introducing sustainability as part of all subjects – science and humanities alike -with a view to influencing the minds that are potential decision makers. One is not sure if higher education is what should be the target for the sustainability campaign. Rather, it would be more practical and result oriented if the thought is introduced into younger minds. Paula Jones is Research Assistant at the Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Plymouth, UK, David Selby is Founding Director of Sustainability Frontiers and Stephen Sterling is Professor of Sustainability Education at the Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth, UK.
The book defines sustainable development as “a way of thinking about how we organise our lives and work – including our education system – so that we don’t destroy our most precious resource, the planet … It must be much more than recycling bottles or giving money to charity. It is about thinking and working in a profoundly different way.”
There are several adages in India that could actually be campaign themes for sustainable development. ‘Measure even what you throw in the river’ ‘Excess of even the life giving nectar (amrit) can kill’ are some of them.
Sustainability cannot be taught. It needs to be inculcated. From an academic perspective, this book opens up the minds of the educationists and policy makers in the West on the concept of sustainable development, or simply sustainability. The subjects covered in the book include geography, earth sciences, health, law, media and cultural studies. A useful guide to curriculum makers.
(Earthscan, Dunstan House, 14a St Cross Street, London ECIN 8XA, UK)