Strong Sustainability, its Holistic Roots and the need to Educate for Reconnection

By Tim Rimmer.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Sustainable development is interpreted and applied in broad fashion. Predominant focus on its economic aspects continues to result in biophysical damage and lack of cultural and social balance in the human arena. To be effective, sustainable development has to be the outcome of the integration of its environmental, socio-cultural and economic dimensions, not their separation. Such an order reflects a reversal of focus and an understanding that the environmental or biophysical sphere is the ground in which the others interrelate and embed. This realisation can be viewed as holistic and results in an environmental ethic underpinning more effective sustainable development, or ‘strong sustainability’. However, the term holistic itself, like sustainable development is widely interpreted and therefore needs to be more clearly defined in this context. It is suggested here, that this is achieved by investigating how holism is viewed in various fields of environmental philosophy, in particular, deep ecology, ecofeminism and ecopsychology. While there are differences, a substantial commonality is found in the way these approaches interpret holism as interdependence and interrelationship. How this is perceived and experienced is also important. If strong sustainability has holistic roots, which in part, grow in the field of deeper green environmental philosophy then education for effective change must incorporate the holistic approach of the latter, here called ‘education for reconnection’. After first outlining strong sustainability and its relationship with environmental philosophy, this paper discusses some of the key elements and issues involved in educating for reconnection, its implications, relevance and importance in both today and tomorrow’s world.

Keywords: Strong Sustainability, Holism, Environmental Philosophy, Educating For Reconnection

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.59-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 537.309KB).

Tim Rimmer

Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, Unitec New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand

Teaches environmental sciences, philosophy, resource management and sustainable design. Also works as a consultant/researcher in on-site 'waste' disposal, emphasising appropriate use of technology.

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