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Education For Sustainability Societal Sea Change

Education for sustainability to bring about a sea change in society

"This century may well be one of relearning on a grand scale", says Dr Morgan Williams, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, "relearning how we Homo sapiens can sustain ourselves on a planet that has limits".

This is a theme of the Commissioner's new report 'See Change: Learning and education for sustainability'. The report will help to raise the level of debate about education for sustainability and stimulate effective action so that New Zealanders can learn to live in sustainable ways.

"There will be heated debate," notes Dr Williams, "because this learning will challenge strongly held beliefs about our social and economic systems". Contentious issues include an economic system based around a narrow focus on economic growth, which often does not contribute to a better quality of life, and the role of advertising in shaping our lifestyles.

The report reviews the current efforts in education for sustainability of central and local government, the formal education system (primary through tertiary), and business, community and environmental groups. It also considers less formal influences on learning, including families and peers, religions, technology, and the media.

A case study is presented - looking at waste in New Zealand as an example - to show how education for sustainability can approach a particular issue.

In addressing environmental problems, the report notes that we need to look beyond symptoms and the role of individuals and to focus on underlying causes and systems. The report suggests important areas for focus and action, highlighting that there are many opportunities for people and organisations to contribute to a better future.

Dr Williams notes that with knowledge and understanding, we can redesign many of our institutional, economic and business systems, so we can improve our quality of life without ever-expanding demands for resources and ever-intensifying pressure on the environment to assimilate our wastes.

Education for sustainability will play a key role in all of this.

See Change can be downloaded free of charge from our website - http://www.pce.govt.nz/reports/allreports/1_877274_12_7.shtml Printed copies are also available free on request.

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