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|
Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Northern British Columbia, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada
Director, Human Security Institute, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada
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