The extent and pace of environmental degradation, on a global scale but often affecting people’s immediate locality, demands fundamental changes in outlook, expectations, beliefs and commitments. This is more particularly true for people living in highly industrialised countries where they consume a disproportionate share of the earth’s finite resources and have a major hand in over-straining, in some cases destroying, the ability of natural ecosystems to recover and adapt. Environmental education has a crucial role to play in encouraging such fundamental changes as:
- a switch from efforts to make economic development sustainable to making the sustainability of the whole Earth community - the planet and its peoples – the prime aim and measure of development.
- a move away from a culture of â€˜fast foods, fast cars, and fast life’ towards a culture where there is an appreciation of enough being enough and where simplicity is welcomed and enjoyed.
- a move away from an individualistic culture to a primary concern for sharing in a life lived with and for others.
The Education Coalition hopes to provide a forum within which to share educational initiatives that encourage these fundamental changes at the level of personal – and organisational – vision, values and priorities. What are needed are strategies that enhance understanding of the complex issues, inspire personal commitment, build up community, and strengthen political will for change. Particularly welcome will be details of initiatives that are shaped by Christian faith perspectives and that encourage theological reflection on the major environmental challenges that face us.
Ideas are needed, for instance, on how to stimulate thinking and action on:
- the link between ecology – economics – politics – social issues.
- environmentally sustainable alternatives to the dominant economic model of free market/growth/deregulated competition. Equally, environmentally sustainable models for â€˜economies in transition’ in Central and Eastern European countries.
- encouragement of â€˜bio-regionalism’, maximising the use of local skills and resources in support of local economies.
- ways of encouraging energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy, of developing cyclical rather than linear use of finite resources, of reducing the use of cars and planes.
- â€˜living simply so that others may simply live’, emphasising relationships rather than possessions.
- development and use of technologies that serve these purposes of bio-regionalism, energy and resource conservation, reduction in pollution, and simpler life-styles.
- the â€˜hidden curriculum’ in any organisation or community so that the â€˜talk’ and the â€˜doing’ are compatible. For instance, buying and using seasonal, regional and ecologically grown food, to match the â€˜talk’ of an alternative sustainable life-style.