- Presenters & Reviewers
- Sponsors & Exhibitors
Leonardo da Vinci to Higher Education: Lead us on a Healthy, Just and Sustainable Path Now
Humanity is at crossroads without historical precedent. Because of the extraordinary and exponential growth of population and the expansive dynamic of industrial capitalism, humans have become pervasive and dominant forces in the health and well being of the earth and its inhabitants. We constitute a planetary force comparable in disruptive power to the Ice Ages and the asteroid collisions that have previously redirected Earth’s history. Despite all the work society has done on environmental protection, all living systems are in long-term decline and are declining at an increasing rate, we are severely disrupting the stability of the climate which made human progress to date possible and there are huge social, economic and public health challenges worldwide. This is happening with 25% of the world’s population consuming 70-80% of the world’s resources. How will we ensure that current and future humans will be healthy, live in strong, secure, thriving communities and have economic opportunity in a world that will have 9 Billion people and that plans to increase economic output 4-5 times by 2050? This is the greatest moral, intellectual and social challenge human civilization has ever faced.
Marginal improvements to business as usual will not work. We need a transformative shift in the way we think act individually and collectively and higher education must lead the way in our role to provide the knowledge and the educated citizenry for a thriving civil society. Higher Education's rapidly expanding response to this challenge over the last two decades has been one of the most positive and inspiring societal trends – it is beacon of hope in a sea of turbulence. However, these efforts are far from sufficient given the scale of the challenge. Most efforts have not been significantly integrated with other socially focused efforts such as civic engagement, social justice, economic development in impoverished parts of the U.S. and the world, and human rights. Our efforts do not challenge the deep cultural assumptions that humans are separate from and destined to dominate nature, that economic growth can continue ad infinitum on a planet whose ability to provide resources and assimilate waste is finite and precarious and that technology will allows us to ignore these limits. With a few exceptions, sustainability, writ large, is not a central institutional goal, or lens for determining the success of higher education institutions.
What would higher education look like, organize and act if creating a healthy, just and sustainable human society were its central purpose? What would be the advantages and opportunities for society and higher education? What kind of partnerships would be necessary with local and regional communities, the private sector and social organizations? What state, federal and international government policies would be necessary to support this shift in society and in higher education? How can we build on and rapidly expand the current exciting higher education efforts in the next decade? Dr. Cortese will explore these questions and identify some of the short and longer actions that respond to Leonardo DaVinci's famous call to urgently move beyond knowing to action.
Anthony D. Cortese, ScD is a Senior Fellow of Second Nature, the Boston-based advocacy organization committed to promoting sustainability through higher education. He was its co-founder along with U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Teresa Heinz Kerry and Bruce Droste. He served as president from March 1993-August 2012.
He was the organizer of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium.
He is a frequent consultant to higher education, industry and non-profit organizations on institutionalization of sustainability principles and programs.
Dr. Cortese was formerly the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. He was the first Dean of Environmental Programs at Tufts University and founded the award-winning Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute in 1989 that helped integrate environmental and sustainability perspectives in over 175 courses. He also organized the effort that resulted in the internationally acclaimed Talloires Declaration of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future in 1990 now signed by over 350 presidents and chancellors in over 50 countries.
Dr. Cortese is a trustee of Tufts University and Green Mountain College and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been actively engaged in dealing with large system sustainability challenges for 40 years.
Dr. Cortese is a frequent presenter to a wide variety of professional audiences. His essays on Education for Sustainability serve as foundational reading for transforming the education and practice of higher education.
Partnering Social Justice with Sustainability: A Challenge to Expand Our Understanding of Inclusivity
As humans are the one animal responsible for (and capable of mitigating) the conditions, which make the work of sustainability a pressing necessity, we have a tremendous responsibility to embrace the complex dimensions of what living in more sustenant ways means. We often may feel frustrated, however, if we think our best sustainability efforts are thwarted by lack of support or apathy. This presentation posits that to increase our efficacy, we must recognize that a pursuit of sustainability cannot be separated from a pursuit of social justice. Jordana invites us to examine our institutions’ pedagogies, policies, and practices with a critical curiosity, asking questions like, “Whose interests and identities are represented in our curricula and institutional commitments?,” and “How are we creating conditions for as many voices as possible to be heard?”
Through rigorous scrutiny into the ways systems of social marginalization are (even inadvertently) reinforced, we have the potential as practitioners to cultivate more inclusive approaches to sustainability. Through exploring and honoring the complexities of diverse identities (i.e., intersections of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, religion, & myriad additional strata of socially constructed demarcators), we can create opportunities for more authentic, comprehensive dialogue.
When people’s lived experiences are recognized and responsively represented at every organizational level – from individual practitioner’s critical inclusivity to administrative practices and multiculturally rich curricula to community engagement – the power of collective solidarity cannot be underestimated. By acknowledging that each human animal has a uniquely complicated experience of what being a part of the interconnected web of all existence means (particularly when many individuals may be targeted daily by alienation or oppression), we not only come much closer to sustainability’s social justice dimensions, but we also have a far higher likelihood of fostering alliances we never thought possible.
Jordana DeZeeuw Spencer, Ph.D. has taught in both public and private schools, nationally and internationally, ranging from Massachusetts to California and South Africa to Greece. In addition to her classroom experience, Jordana has facilitated eight seasons of programs with Interlocken: Center for Experiential Learning (through which she has worked with students across Western Europe, Northern Africa, and the Hawaiian Islands). Jordana’s scholarship draws upon Critical Social Theory & Pedagogy, Feminist Theory & Pedagogy, an Ethic of Care, Dialogism & Communication Theory, and Intersectionality Theory to explore what capacities the human animal needs to nurture in order to connect in solidarity across “difference” (whatever we may perceive that to be). Jordana’s passions lie in Social Justice Education with particular foci on Gender & Sexuality, as well as Anti-Racism Studies and solution-oriented critiques of culturally constructed oppressive systems. Jordana complements her Graduate Faculty responsibilities at Prescott College with teaching in their undergraduate program and advising in their Sustainability Education doctoral program, while continuing her international work during the summer.
Sustainability: Changing the Operating System
A new film by Monty Hempel (coming fall 2012) This film will have its world premier at the AASHE Conference.
Almost everyone knows something about sustainability, yet relatively few people know anything about the operating system that is needed to achieve it. This film examines the basic features of that operating system. It explores the promise and limitations of sustainability as both an evolving concept for the common good and as a practical strategy for personal happiness. It boldly tells the story of how to create a world that works for everyone -- human and nonhuman -- by preserving opportunities to design and build communities that are green, profitable, fair, and "glocal".
The essence of sustainability could be defined as preserving the life of community. Sustainability, as a unifying ideal that is grounded in community, might just satisfy the disparate needs of people today and those who will follow for thousands of generations to come. It warrants the serious risk taking that all big ideas demand of those at the forefront of higher education.
Monty Hempel is a documentary filmmaker and environmental scientist. He is currently the Hedco Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Center for Environmental Studies at the University of Redlands, in Southern California. He is also president of Blue Planet United, a small 501(c)(3) educational organization that produces environmental films and publishes a quarterly news journal about human population, consumption, and sustainability www.blueplanetunited.org. View other films by Monty Hempel.
Hempel’s teaching, research, film, and public service interests focus on environmental science and politics, sustainability concepts, climate disruption, marine environmental protection, and wilderness preservation. His professional work is strongly interdisciplinary and guided by the goal of pragmatic idealism.
He is a past president of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) and was a founding board member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In addition, he has served on the executive committee of the national Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), and currently serves as a Senior Fellow of the InterEvironment Institute and California Institute of Public Affairs, and as an appointed member of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Benchmark Task Force.
Hempel’s book publications include Environmental Governance: The Global Challenge (Island Press, 1996), Gandhi's Significance for Today: The Elusive Legacy (Macmillan, 1989, co-edited with John Hick), and Sustainable Communities: From Vision to Action (Hewlett Foundation/CGU, 1998). He has also written, filmed, and produced more than a dozen environmental video documentaries, with subjects ranging from coral reef protection in Palau to the Kuna Indians of Panama.
GUPES: The Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability
On June 5, 2012 UNEP launched the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Hosted at the UNEP-Tongji Institute for Environment and Sustainability, GUPES is a platform that seeks to involve universities around the globe and address the challenges of sustainable development in higher education. GUPES brings environment and sustainability issues into universities at different levels, including teaching, research and the local community, showing the relevance of networking and the exchange of ideas to promote more sustainable practices, as well as the need and importance of environmental education.
This presentation will focus on the importance of network-building in the promotion of sustainable development in higher education and specially, the case of GUPES, looking at some innovative examples by which to achieve such goals.
Mr. Mahesh Pradhan, was appointed as Chief of UNEP's Environmental Education and Training Unit (EETU) within the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) in January 2011.
EETU assists with the implementation of UNEP's mission: To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. More specifically, EETU supports the delivery of UNEP's Medium Term Strategy 2010-13: "Generation of environmental education resources, networks and partnerships will support the implementation of the six cross-cutting thematic priorities and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)."
The core focus at EETU is UNEP's enhanced engagement with Universities. This is clustered around three key pillars of education, training and networking. Drawing upon the successful Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability into African Universities (MESA) initiative, EETU has initiated a Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) in June 2012, which was launched as a lead up to the Rio+20 Conference and the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI). Through the GUPES platform, EETU seeks to promote enhanced student engagement on priority and emerging sustainability issues, with focus on students at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Building Green at Minority Serving Institutions
This panel discussion will explore sustainability initiatives at historically black, Hispanic –serving and tribal colleges and universities. Topics will include infrastructure upgrades and green building, student activities and curriculum development. Panelists will share perspectives, challenges and unique opportunities encountered as these special mission institutions strive to embrace campus-wide sustainability.