12 December 2016
Recently, I have been in
many discussions about how to mainstream sustainability and the sustainable
development goals into university curriculum frameworks. After doing some
research and speaking to a whole bunch of very smart people heading up faculties
all over the world, it has become clear to me that even us, as sustainability
practitioners and advocates, have fallen into the same trap as everyone else
when it comes to education. We develop experts in sustainability and systems
thinking, just like we develop experts in economics, ecology, health,
architecture, law, and every other profession out there.
However, if we take changing the status quo towards a sustainable human society
that understands that the Earth is one inter-connected system seriously, we
need to churn out professionals from all fields who understand how systems
work, how sustainability works, and how their profession can contribute to it.
In fact, we need to all understand our operating and living space, the space
that provides us with everything we need to survive, grow, develop and thrive.
Last year we decided, as a global community, to change the world into a place
where we can all thrive. And we put a deadline on it. The year 2030.
We all signed on to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals
are not perfect. But they sure are a huge step towards prosperity for all.
Seeing as we all signed on to them, we all need to make some contribution,
within our (vast) individual and collective agency, towards them. We have goals
that focus on building resilient infrastructure and inclusive cities for
people, and our engineers, architects and city planners will have to be
qualified to do this. We need to improve our health system from the profit
chase to the wellbeing and health chase, and our health practitioners will have
to learn to do this. I could mention more. If such professionals do not
understand systems thinking, they will always be trained only to solve problems
through symptomatic relief. I wonder sometimes whether systems thinking
understanding for all has not the potential to actually be the glue that would
close the gaps in understanding and willingness to work together.
Image Credit: Christopher Chase, Creative by Nature