Research and Solutions: Education for Sustainability as the Mission of Higher Education
AbstractIn an era of rapidly accelerating, unprecedented, and disruptive economic, social, and environmental sustainability challenges, today's and tomorrow's businesses, governments, and professionals will need new knowledge and skills that only higher education can provide on a broad scale. Colleges and universities of all types are expanding learning, research, operation, and service with a goal of modeling and educating for sustainability to better fulfill their mission and to prepare students for citizenship and careers. These efforts have largely been distinct programs that help begin the cultural shift toward making deep and comprehensive societal sustainability the goal of higher education. Despite these efforts, education for sustainability still remains elusive. An overwhelming majority of graduates know little about the importance of aligning their personal, professional, and civic lives with sustainability principles for their personal success and society's stability. Current approaches focus largely on environmental challenges instead of focusing on better ways to meet individual, economic, and social needs in an environmentally sustainable way. For societal sustainability to be actualized, it must become a part of the core mission of higher education. Academic leaders must take a fresh look at the context of education, the content of learning, and the process of education. While any of the strategies for putting education for sustainability into action are not revolutionary, they do require a much more integrated and holistic approach for formal education to include co-curricular activities on campus and in the community, and they must be embraced as quickly as possible.