Human Insecurity Through Economic Development: Educational Strategies to Destabilise the Dominant Paradigm

By Alexander K. Lautensach and Sabina W. Lautensach.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Every day the media inundate students of all ages with conflicting information regarding economic development. On the one hand, the daily news abounds with triumphant reports about growth figures, annual profits and trade expansion. On the other, it seems that the global economy at present is using up resources at unsustainable rates, which has been steadily reducing the global environmental capital ever since the 1980s. While the exact numbers underlying the latter interpretation remain somewhat debatable, the assumptions informing the former appear far more questionable. Foremost among those unfounded assumptions is the utterly unscientific belief in unlimited growth, also known as cornucopianism.
While public support for sustainable policies and practices has steadily increased over the past decades, the ideological basis of cornucopianism seems to have hardly diminished. In order for humanity to achieve sustainability within the remaining available timeframe, it is imperative that this ideological basis be destabilised and reduced. In this paper we propose educational strategies that can contribute to that aim. They rely partly on the creation of cognitive dissonance in the student through a comparison of ecological footprint data for “successful”, growing national economies and “poor”, stagnant ones. The dissonance arises from the fact that only the latter are sustainable while the former expand largely by exploiting other regions and compromising human security. The strategies also rely on applying various moral theories, such as the principles of justice and non-maleficence, to lead the learner towards the realisation that the dominant ideology of growth is as morally bankrupt as it is scientifically untenable. While some might consider this a foretold conclusion, it has grave implications for such popular initiatives as eliminating poverty and fighting global hunger.

Keywords: Education for Sustainability, Human Security, Ecological, Footprint, Cornucopianism

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.347-360. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 802.074KB).

Dr. Alexander K. Lautensach

Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Northern British Columbia, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada

Alexander Lautensach’s academic background includes a DiplBiol. (University of Munich, Germany), an MSc. (University of Guelph, Canada), a BEd. (University of Toronto), an MScT. (McMaster University), and a PhD. (University of Otago, New Zealand). He is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Canada. His research expertise extends into environmental ethics and human behaviour, determinants of human security in the areas of health and environmental support structures, science education and affective learning outcomes, teaching and learning for sustainability, and bioethics education and cultural safety. He is also associate editor of the Journal of Human Security in charge of educational and environmental aspects of human security. As deputy director of the Human Security Institute he is involved in numerous international collaborations. He has recently published Environmental Ethics for the Future (Lambert Academic Publ. 2010).

Dr. Sabina W. Lautensach

Director, Human Security Institute, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada

Sabina Lautensach’s academic background includes a BA (hons.) in policial science and anthropology (McMaster University, Canada), an MA. in international relations (Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Canada), and a PhD in intercultural conflict resolution (University of Otago, New Zealand). She conducts research in social anthropology, sustainable policies in fisheries, confidence building measures in international affairs, conflict resolution, human security, and intercultural negiotiation. She is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Human Security http://www.rmitpublishing.com.au/jhs.html. As director of the Human Security Institute she coordinates collaborations with colleagues in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Bulgaria, Austria, Slowenia, Russia and other countries.

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