Defining and Explaining Sustainable Development and Sustainability: A Review of Curriculum Guides and School Texts
The chapter reviews the way the concepts of sustainable development and sustainability are described and explained in curriculum guides, advice to teachers and school geography textbooks. Most definitions do not distinguish between sustainable development and sustainability, do not explain what is to be sustained, and do not lead to any tests of whether something is sustainable. Some of them also extend the idea of sustainability in conceptually confusing ways. An alternative definition of sustainability is proposed, based on the contention that sustainability is about a preferred state in which the functions of the environment that support human life and welfare are maintained into the future, while sustainable development is about a process for achieving this state. This definition identifies what is to be sustained, and leads to a set of principles that students can use to evaluate whether an environmental function is sustainable. The chapter also argues for students to be guided into much deeper thinking about the causes of unsustainability, and about the changes in our society and their way of life that may be required if unsustainability is to be significantly reduced.
KeywordsSustainable Development Future Generation Renewable Resource Environmental Education Precautionary Principle
The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Jonathan Noble and Nick Hutchinson to this chapter, and the insights provided by Philip Sutton in the paper listed in the references.
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