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Climate Change and Sustainability: Maybe it should be Stewardship

Topic: Stewardship in Conservation | 0 | Tags: None

According to the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) “year of science,” May was the month to focuses on sustainability and the environment.  Recently I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on sustainability with a previous director of the EPA.  It was an interesting discussion on policy and implementation. Many question were directed as to the focus of the past and current administrations on environmental concerns.  During that discussion the Brundtland Commission statement used to defining sustainability “Meeting our own needs without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Often the discussion would address the interactions that occur with sustainability between the environment, economic and social dimensions.  These are often called the pillars of sustainability.  Even though how these dimensions interact was debated, the importance of sustaining our environment for future generations was the overall conclusion.  When given the opportunity I asked the previous EPA director what could teachers do to help prepare students about sustainability and it’s complex interactions.  After he provided his response I smiled, as I was aware that many of the ideas he proposed were similar to those suggested in NABT’s Position Statement on Sustainability.   Visit NABT website for greater detail, but let me highlight just a few of these suggestions.  If you have other good examples, send them to NABT so that they can be included as good practices in teaching on sustainability and the environment so other teachers can learn from your example.

·      Expose students to the beauty and intrigue of nature.

·      Foster debate of environmental and other social issues

·      Allow students to express individual leadership and civic action, which promotes long-term, visionary thinking and encourages equity, social justice, peace, health and healing.

·      Introduce the topics on renewable energy, energy from the sun and wind and other renewable resources

·      Lead by example, help your schools to make substantive and well-demonstrated effort to recycle and conserve energy, water, and other natural resources

·      Explore how your school community works, including water and energy use, CO2 produced per student, the amount of materials procured, the amount of materials recycled, etc…

·      Follow principles and guidance set forth by organizations devoted to the teaching and practice of sustainable living


The teaching of responsible use of our environment may be one of the most important things we do.  Teaching by example may be the best way in which we can actually accomplish a sustainably minded society.So maybe it should not be sustainability, but Stewardship!  Sustainability is still a self-directed, self-needing, self… response.  Maybe we should remember that the World is NOT ours, but if we are to be living in it we need to work with it, help it, renew it …Stewardship!